Tony and I were in Paris in November of 2001, just two months after the 9-11 tragedies. The interesting-ness of the trip began with the flight leaving out of New York. As we waited for our plane, a palpable discomfort seeped through the passengers because of two middle eastern men waiting to board too.
Sadly, we were all relieved when they were taken away and visibly searched. In hindsight, I still feel for the men. They looked as uncomfortable and pained as the rest of us, but how awful to be the suspects, based on appearance. But the wounds were fresh and so were our fears, and those fears led to change.
When we arrived in Paris, on a Sunday or a holiday, every shoe store was closed. This shouldn't have mattered, but it did, because I'd packed two left foot, running shoes--the shoes I'd planned to walk in all over Paris. It was an uncomfortable day, and I have never been so grateful to buy new running shoes.
Then there was the day Tony was attacked by the gypsies...
Every morning after our hotel continental breakfast, when we headed for Le Metro or just headed out into the streets to explore, our first stop was always at La Boulangerie for a fresh, often warm croissant of varying flavors. Sometimes it was two croissants, sometimes a chou-chou or a cream puff. On this one morning, it was a pain au chocolat and a cream puff--one in each hand. Tony had finished one of his delicacies when a group of gypsies boarded the subway. One played his guitar and the others sang. Their intent was to earn money and I'd enjoyed their entertainment, so I asked Tony for a few coins and I handed them over and said, "Merci." We arrived at our stop, and I proceeded to walk out of the subway car. I sensed something was wrong and I turned around to see two of the gypsy men, each one, on the ground and wrapped around one of Tony's legs. They were holding him down. One of the men was reaching into Tony's front pocket where he had seen him reach for the coins I'd given in gratitude. One of Tony's hands was on his back pocket protecting his wallet. I yelled at the men and charged forward (though this sounds like a greater threat than I could have possibly been). At that moment, a few coins flew from his pocket and the men scrambled to pick them up. Tony broke loose and we hurried out. It was then that I burst into laughter.
Tony was still holding the chocolate croissant in his hand.
Most men would have dropped the buttery, flaky, Parisian treat, and defended himself two-handed against the gypsies, but my husband knew what was important.
It is a scene I can never forget and one day, I overheard our granddaughter retelling the story while in the same physical stance as Tony, one hand in her pocket and one hand almost above her head with the pretend, protected croissant. Apparently, the visual of the story was strong enough to remember and to emulate. Hopefully, you can see it too.