This morning I was embarrassed before I'd even opened my eyes- a new low. I just lay in bed, burning with dark shame, struggling to remember why I was embarrassed. Then, as I became more awake, my cloudy head cleared and my memory sharpened, coming into focus before splintering into fragments from last night, each memory a sharp pain, making me wince and shudder:
Hiding a huge carton of vodka and apple juice in my tights... Eeesh.
Squinting at my phone, typing an embarrassing Facebook message... Ouch.
Winding down a car window, leaning out over the side and heaving... Aiiiee.
I have disgraced myself. The antics of last night will cling to my reputation like a slimy shadow and now I shall never find a husband. Who will keep me in petticoats and potted beef?
Yesterday it took me five hours to get home from Manchester. On the plane I sat next to a lady with a cat in a basket. The lady told me it was an Egyptian cat ('Un chat des pharaons!' she kept saying) and that she'd taken it to England so that a sexy Egyptian stud from Durham could make her pregnant. Life would be a lot easier if I had an old lady to organise my sex life- I could stop worrying about boys and just get on with my life while she organised trips across Europe for me.
"We're going to Dublin tomorrow, you will have sex with an Egyptian stud."
It would be good if she could groom me for the meetings as well- wax me and moisturise me, maybe rub a bit of fake tan on in the winter.
She didn't speak English so I had to be her translator (apparently I can speak French now, but only when I'm not in France) as she wanted to ask an English woman if she could steal her seat next to the window and then she wanted to make the same woman swap seats with me, because I said I loved cats and wouldn't mind sitting next to one.
The English woman was really nice and didn't mind where she sat, but she was a bit bewildered, especially when, after finally sitting down in my seat, the air hostess came along and asked her to move to a different row so that the cat could have its own seat. Then the air hostess said that the woman couldn't take her handbag to the new seat, for Some Reason, but she wouldn't really say why. I think actually the English woman could speak a bit of French, but she just wanted me to confirm that people were really saying the weird things she thought they were saying.
Anyway, the lady with the cat asked me if I wanted to teach her daughter English and offered me a lift home, but when the plane landed I felt a bit awkward bringing it up again so I just said goodbye and got off the plane as quickly as I could.
Going through border control took about forty minutes, and I was the only white person in a sea of Japanese people. I couldn't see anyone from my flight and then they all arrived at once, stood in a different queue and went through really quickly, while I hopped about looking anxious and wondering if I should switch lines. When I finally got through I couldn't find my bag for ages, then I couldn't find the Roissy Bus, then it wouldn't let me pay on my card... I needed a wee and I was thirsty. I was seconds away from a complete Travel Meltdown, when tiny traveling stresses build up and up until you feel like throwing your bag down, ripping all your clothes off and running off into the wild, free from baggage and borders.
I felt like I'd never been to Paris before. I had no money in my purse and no money in my English bank account. I started getting really worried that I would have to walk home, but I found a cash machine that let me get twenty euros out.
Some men in army uniforms stopped our bus for twenty minutes, blocking the doors to the airport so that nobody could get on. It reminded me of when my little brother was told by the army that he couldn't get on the Roissy bus, and then his phone didn't work and I thought he'd be lost in Paris forever. Whenever I think of that night I get a horrible feeling of dread in my stomach.
The traffic was awful and it took us over an hour to get into Paris. At one point the man in front turned round and asked me if I knew what time the bus back to the airport was. We were driving through Place de Clichy at the time and I thought that maybe he didn't like the look of Paris and decided to go straight back home, but he told me that he had a connecting flight at 10pm and had planned on getting something to eat in the city, but now it looked as though he wouldn't have enough time.
We chatted for a bit and I found out that he was South African and English was his second language. ("What's your first language?" I asked him, stupidly. I didn't know Afrikaans was a language.) I told him that I'm from Manchester and that I work in Paris as a teacher and then we discovered that his English aunty lives up the road from my gran! What a teeny tiny world we live in.
Anyway, I've rattled on for so long that I don't think I'll have time to tell you about last night. I didn't plan on going out, I wanted to stay in and save my pennies, but Julia kept persuading me and well, you know how the song goes... I'm just a girl who cain't say no. I'd forgotten that Pitchfork Festival was on at Villette Enchantée and Julia said you could buy tickets on the door for twenty euros. (It was fifty euros for a day ticket.) Julio Bashmore and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs were playing and Julia had a litre of vodka that she wanted to sneak in. I had no idea how she was going to sneak it in, so we tried to drink as much as we could before going in.
When we were at the entrance, we filled a half-empty carton of juice with vodka and I stuck it in my tights, pushing it to the back of my thigh. The queue to get tickets was pretty big and we were worried that they would sell out of tickets, but then a ticket tout came up to us and offered us two tickets for twenty euros. Julia suggested that I go first and then if the ticket worked, she'd pay the man and go in.
As I walked up to the security, I tried not to look like I had a carton on apple of juice wedged in between my thighs. I walked up with my bag open, holding it out ready for the woman to take a look. No vodka in there, miss. Then I took my coat off and told her to look inside the pockets, which might have been suspiciously over-enthusiastic, but she just smiled. Lastly, she wanted to pat me down. She patted my arms and my midriff, then she moved onto my legs and patted my thighs around the carton, but without touching it at all. AH-HA!
In hindsight, I kind of wish she'd discovered the vodka and disaster might have been averted.
Woah, I'm really tired now, and I can't type for a minute longer, sorrrrry!