Saturday, February 7, 2015

A New Mexican in Paris

As a student from New Mexico, Glen was excited when he was offered the summer internship in Paris.  The excitement came partly from his finally getting a chance to practice the language he had studied for three years, and partly because it would be his first trip to Europe.   Mostly, however, he was excited to be working for an entire summer at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

This promised to be the best summer of his life.  True, the job was a menial, unpaid position that would chiefly entail running errands and performing tedious tasks, but it was in Paris!  At Notre Dame!

It was not lost on Glen that this also meant that he would miss a summer in southern New Mexico, where the blazing hot winds of June and July were like suffering the hot breath of Satan.  While he wasn't quite sure what the summer would be like in Paris, he was pretty damn sure it would be better than summer in a New Mexican desert.  (At least, he had never heard of a dust storm in Paris.)

As it turned out, the Parisian summer was fantastic!  Glen loved his new job, he loved his tiny student apartment, and of course, he loved the Gothic cathedral where he worked.  Finished in 1365, the old stone cathedral was older and taller than any building in southern New Mexico.

Every morning, Glen would climb the spiral stairways of one of the cathedral's towers to the top.  There, he could watch the sun rise across the famous city.  He had to be careful on the old stone steps--they had been rounded and worn by centuries of use, making them as smooth as glass and almost as slippery.  At the top, Glen always took the time to admire the numerous gargoyles.  His favorite carving reminded him of one of his former instructors, Professor Maleficent, who was now the Dean of Women at the state penitentiary. 

His job wasn't all sightseeing: he spent most of his time running errands for the cathedral.  During his first week on the job, he had been checked out in the cathedral's car, a red Peugeot 308—a type of car not sold in the United States.  The small car had a gold outline of the cathedral on the doors above distinctive large gold lettering: Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.

Once he got used to the insane complexities of driving in Paris traffic, Glen loved to drive the car.  The lack of lanes, the narrow streets, and the insane parking conditions were balanced with the adventure of a new culture, the magnificent architecture, and a city steeped in history.  While he invariably got lost, no matter how tiny a dead-end cul-de-sac or out of the way alley he eventually wandered into, smiling and friendly Parisians came out of nearby buildings and surrounded the car.

Even while driving down major thoroughfares, Glen got the impression that people stopped and waved at him whenever he drove by.  And even the taxis—world famous for their aggressive driving—seemed to brake and allow him to easily change lanes.

Glen could hardly believe how friendly the people were!  He wondered if this was because the locals could tell he was an American....  Or, did they just really like the people who worked at the old cathedral?

One day, Glen asked Emmanuel Cloche, the director of the intern program, about the incredibly warm reception he was getting from the people.  Was it really because they could tell he was an American?

"Êtres-vous fou?" asked Emmanuel.  "Non, no!  It is not you they are excited to see, it is the car they want to see.  It is world famous: everyone on the planet wants to meet la petite Peugeot."

"What?" asked Glen.  "I've never even heard of it."

"Don't be absurd!" cried the Frenchman.  "You have never heard of the Hatchback of Notre Dame?"  


  1. Bada bing bada boom. He who would pun would pick a man's pocket. Alexander Pope.

  2. A 656 word pun and I didn't see it coming! Congratualtions upon your mastery of the art form.