I had just flown 10 hours on a plane, and walked 6 miles in the rain to find our friends, Clarence, Kris, and Tabethya Hofheins. I was sooooo tired, and a little grumpy. But we only had a few hours to spend together, so we had to make the most of it and pack in as much as we could . . . which included the Eiffel tower.
I got in line with Kris, while the rest of our group took off for a crepe stand across the street. Sort of a jip if you ask me. Why do the mom's always get the "wait in line" job and everyone else in the family gets the "go for treats" job?
I hadn't even been in line 10 minutes when I saw several French army guys come walking through the crowd with machine guns. That was not the hilarious part -- seeing men with real machine guns wandering around. That was unsettling. It was a vivid reminder that there are places around the world who see violence in the form of bombs and shootings at public places.
Not long after, Matt came up behind me and handed me a crepe dusted with powdered sugar and a splash of lemon. Pure heaven. It made up for the 6 mile walk. I felt renewed.
An hour passed and we were still winding around in line. But it was ok, because it gave us time to catch up with the Hofhiens, and shop for Eiffel Tower key chain souvenirs that were being peddled by young men sitting on tablecloths around the line.
As we were chatting away, I noticed a group of about 15 people -- they looked like family, all standing next to the line, but not in line. I happen to make eye contact with one of them, a smiling woman with short brown hair. She walked towards me, and her entire group followed right behind her.
As the woman approached, she started muttering zyah, zyah, zyah with this happy look on her face, like we were friends who hadn't seen each other in a long time. I thought what in the world is she doing? So I said No French in my best French accent. (Which, as I have mentioned in prior posts, my family mocks all the time.)
The woman raised her eyebrows and made this "just go with it" face, and continued gesturing and talking away with her muttering zyah . . . zyah . . . zyah. Eden leaned over and in a laughing whisper said I think she's trying to pretend you are buddies, and you saved her a place in line.
He hadn't even finished the sentence and sure enough, that entire group was in line directly behind us, and they were all laughing and nodding at me. I think it meant "Hello relative who is saving our place in line." Then Eden and I started laughing too because it was funny. That took guts, 15 people all butting in line together. I had to let them. Any mom in a foreign country willing to mutter to a perfect stranger just to get that many people in a line deserved a break.
Eden leaned over and whispered in my ear: They have a devil may care attitude. We should have thought of that! Mom, why don't you just go up to someone and start mumbling in your weird pirate/French accent and see if you can get us to the front of the line!
I whispered back: Because I would be pulled out of line by an army guy, and we would suddenly be in an I Love Lucy episode!
Then, one of the teenage Line Butters handed me a package full of pretzel/biscuit looking things covered in poppy seeds, and the entire group of Line-Butters smiled at me again. Claire said: Oh look, they just gave you a "thank you for letting us butt in line" treat!
I had to reciprocate, so I reached in my back pack, pulled out a giant box of Skittles, and handed it to the girl as good will gesture. She looked pleased.
Eden was not pleased. He whispered Oh that is so ..... not a fair trade! Butting in line AND Skittles, for a pack of Russian pretzels!
I said What makes you think they are from Russia? That muttering didn't sound Russian at all! And by the way, you just had a Nuttella Crepe, the last thing you need is a box of Skittles.
Still whispering, he responded: The writing on the package is Russian! Man, if this is their special treat, I never want to visit there, they don't look very tasty to me. Who covers pretzels in poppy seeds! Those Line Butters are going to go nuts over Skittles.
And I whispered back Why are we whispering, they can't understand a word we are saying!
And then we laughed our heads off.
Once we had composed ourselves, Eden and I broke open the Russian treat and had took out a pretzel. We both made a face at the very same time -- the "these are delicious" look. But as we chewed, I could tell that Eden was thinking the very same thing I was thinking, because the minute the Russians weren't looking we both mouthed "dog biscuits" and then burst out laughing again. I was so tired I could not stop, which sort of embarrassed a certain girl in my family. I think she tried to butt in line with the group ahead of her just to get away from her pirate/French speaking mother.
It was the most fun time I've ever spent waiting in line -- lemon crepes; new Russian friends, with whom we could not communicate; eating bad pretzels, and laughing.
Our wait ended with this conversation -- Eden, declaring that the French would like us more if we all pretended we were Canadian.