My husband, Bob, and I were married on New Year’s Eve 20 years ago this December in Paris where I lived in 1989 and 1990.  Bob had lived in Vienna with his first wife in the early 1980s and always dreamed of showing me Vienna through his eyes.  We decided to combine that trip with a visit to my Parisian friends. 

Bob approached the trip quite romantically.  He wanted to visit the church of our wedding and take our friends back to Chez Les Anges (basically, The Angels’ Place), the restaurant where we originally had the dinner-reception for all 7 of us – Valerie, Fabrice, Anne-Marie and Claude, Christiane who came from Lausanne, Bob and me. 

After an absolutely gorgeous meal of lovely presentation and beautiful wines, I excused myself to the ladies room, ‘je vais aux toilettes’.  The toilettes were down a hall, one end of which opened into the restaurant near the servers’ area.  The rest room was also nice – all marble…..floors, walls, ceiling and door.  It was about 3 by 5 feet.  I went in, turned the dead bolt,  completed my business there and thoroughly washed my hands.  I then turned the deadbolt the other way and attempted to pull the door open.  Nothing happened.  It didn’t even budge.  I tried it again, turning the knob the other direction.  I turned the knob in conjunction with the door knob.  More nothing.  I pushed and pulled.  I sat and waited for Bob to come for me.  I worked the knobs.  Did I mention the room was all marble including the door?  Did I mention there was no ventilation?  It got hotter and hotter. 

I began knocking on the door, a futile attempt in that it was then 10 pm, peak dinner hour for Parisians and the restaurant had gotten rather noisy.  The servers couldn’t hear me at all.  I began to wonder, ‘is hyperventilation a self-destructive response to this situation?’  Deciding ‘yes’ to that question, I grabbed the two knobs with both hands and began banging the door against its frame and, alternately, slamming my palms against it.  Now, one would think that the other members of the party would notice if one hadn’t returned within nearly half an hour. 

En fin!  A waiter came to the door and I told him in my best English – to hell with French at that particular moment – that the door wouldn’t open.  ‘Un moment, madam,’ he said, departing.  A few minutes later he returned and worked on the door lock for a while.  Finally, you’ve seen this in movies, I know, he turned his shoulder to the door and ran across the hallway, about 6 feet, slamming into the marble slab.  Again and again and again.  I didn’t know exactly where to stand in the tiny room in case of his success.  The door gave about 1/8 inch.  Again and again until he triumphantly crashed into the bathroom, having knocked a chunk of marble from the door frame.  ‘Si bon’, he declared with a big grin on his face. 

By that time, Bob and my friends were in the hallway gaping at Monsieur et moi in the bathroom.  Someone who was possibly taking his life in his hands mentioned that it’s probably not a good idea to lock the ladies room door after entering because it’s possible the bolt will not return, it will be hotter than a sauna in there before they come to retrieve you, and some guy will break into the bathroom and proudly declare ‘si bon’.

NO, not si bon.  Not at all si bon.



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