The People of Europe
Once, recently, I forgot about Oliver who was our waiter at Lou Pescadou in Paris. After we sat outside and had foie gras and French onion soup it was late and there was a view of Saint-Sulpice and we had drinks with Oliver after closing. What about Regan, who was a college friend and who happened to be in Paris for one night and we met her for an evening at the Eiffel Tower and it sparkled and we had the cherries from Le Quatre Saisons and the rosé Champaign from Nicolas that we had picked up on Rue Cler on the way. And then of course speaking of Rue Cler, I also forgot of our café called L’Éclair where Simon our waiter called our names from down the street every evening when we returned to close out the night at our café.
I forgot that in London at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant called Maze Grill in Chelsea our waiter Stefano gave me a list of his favorite London cubbyholes, and that there was no pound coin in my pocket because I forgot about the Russian girl who was working the mulled wine stall at a Christmas market under Millennium Bridge, and who smirked at my Russian when I tried, and then after I said I would buy her a coffee for her trip to Seattle, which she was leaving for next weekend, said she didn’t know coffee was so cheap in America and made me slide one more pound over the counter to cover it. For the life of me I forgot the names of the staff at Burghley House and even that I could always check the credits of the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudiceto find their names because they were extras in the movie which filmed there and we talked for hours about the director Joe Wright and filming with him and the actors. What about joining tables at Wild Honey with a Michelin chef who was sitting next to us and having Champaign and talking for hours about how London was modern and more importantly why that’s important. What about reading to the dog named Star that lives on the Book Barge with the owner or playing guess the wine with the sommelier at Angler which is my favorite restaurant in the world. And punting down the River Cam with a Cambridge alum and hearing his stories of going to college there while floating past the colleges there.
It was when I was working with a producer friend of mine, whose name is Laura, that I forgot all of that. Laura works for a very respectable production company that does many of the TV shows you’ve heard of and she asked me to do some work with her. Some would be on camera and some would be voiceover. I said yes because there’s nothing better than working alongside talented, creative, awesome people. Also she’s a real life jet setter, like the kind designers on Project Runway talk about designing for and you’re like I don’t know anybody like that in real life. Also because being in front of a camera is easy work. All you have to do is bear your soul but you don’t even have to try. It’s like when Frodo puts on the ring and the great eye of Sauron is staring right through him and says in a smoker’s voice, “I see you.”
Except when it came to voiceover work I sat down across from Laura and this long pointy black microphone was pointing right at me as if it were poking me in the chest like a long pointy finger. The best I could do were a few mismatched platitudes like the bartender in The Boondocks Saints. You gotta make hay while you cast the first stone. People in glass houses should not throw a penny earned. Etc. I should have known I’d stink at voiceover because I can’t sing. I can’t even hit do much less re or the impossible mountain peak ones like mi. Oh, a note to follow so? Is that all, Fräulein Maria? I murder do so awfully I’m like the person who shot Bambi’s mom.
I ran to the airport to tell Laura that I felt bad about wasting an hour of her time but that I just couldn’t find the soul of that long pointy microphone no matter how hard I tried. Nothing happened at first as I stood on the runway but then after a pause the window of her seat on the jet rolled down. “You know how you never shut up about how good travel is finding the Parisians and not Paris?” she said. “How it’s more important to remember the Londoners and not London because cities are just things, as opposed to the people who live there.” She disappeared back into the jet and when she returned she held the microphone out the window and said, “Just speak to me, to my soul, not the mic’s, silly. It’s just a thing,” and she dropped the mic to the tarmac where it shattered and then she slapped the outside of the jet, signaling she was ready for the driver to go, and flew out west in search of a Hollywood sunset, which she never misses.