(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

what I did last night ... tales from the clumsy American.

in my usual state of dishabille, I organized myself at the last minute to depart for Chalus. Nonchalant at the prospect of driving nearly 70km on a Saturday evening with fair weather, I dawdled over my attire. Unfamiliar with my pending surrounds, both socially and environmentally, I opted for pseudo-casual-chic. Readers, this next bit is solely for my gal pal La Belette. Madame she-weasel, I ruminated over black head-to-toe options, staggering stillettos, skirts, blue jeans, or coordinated sets. I ultimately opted for comfort and what is becoming a more and more common color choice ... a sort of aqua teal. Isn't it funny how a color can slowly overtake your wardrobe? Its like one intruder gets in, sets up camp, and sends out coded messages to its compatriots to reconnoiter in the closet. but I digress. At least I think I do because frankly I'm not sure where all of this is going.

Oh yeah, I was opting for comfort. I wanted jeans but decided to go with tan jeans (aren't I daring?) and my tan granny boots with the black heel. Black BR belt with deco buckle. Aqua teal lightweight merino pull with draped wrap neckline. A (to me) stunning aqua necklace with carved glass beads and a large multi-faceted cut glass medallion. Silk scarf, micro-striped with vivid shades of aqua, fuschia, greens & yellows (a Parisian favorite from a few years back). Finished off with an unlined linen jacket, light khaki color with a bit of a safari cut. Girl, I even did some maquillage with 2 tones of eyeliner and extra mascara. I know its a special night when I do the bottom lash mascara routine. Isn't that odd? hope I have some advocates out there who understand the whole top lash only approach for the daily routine.

Its rather unlike me to devote so many sentences to ensemble preparation. But try living out of a slightly dark, decrepit, dusty, weird aroma having house with no full length mirrors and 7/10ths of your attire still in boxes in an adjoining building. I haven't been in anything other than jeans and tees since arrival. Well that might be a slight exaggeration. but not much. So having a chance, now that I'm settling in to dank dark and smelly, to put together an outfit - no matter how casual - was kind of a kick. Even if it was just for me.

Back to my state of disorganized chaos. I got all of my various shit together (like a quick perusal of my routier to make sure I landed up in the RIGHT Chalus, because of course there ARE 2!). I hop in the ole jalopy, fire it up and take off direction Thiviers. Quick double park at the cash machine. Stuff bills in wallet and hope back into the camionette. Queue 'ruh-roh' music.

My gas gauge was precariously far to the left. "What the f ...* I could have sworn I gassed up a few days ago. Remembers unplanned detour on several side roads through countryside. No worries, I'll just stop in for some gas and be on my way...Queue second round of 'RUH-ROH' music. Sure it is Saturday. A glorious Saturday. Time has gotten away from me and it is 8:00 p.m. The large percentage of stations are now unmanned. What remains are stations with card operated machines only. Sounds fine eh? Yah right except they don't take ANY CARD IN MY WALLET!

The inner dialogue is something like this ... "Maybe I have more gas than I think ... the light isn't flashing STEADY. And the gauge keeps moving depending on uphill or down. I can go pretty far per litre. Well I don't know exactly how many kilometres I get per litre, but I'm in Europe and European cars get better gas mileage. Let's turn around and go to that ONE station back in Brantome near the campers, maybe they keep workers later" backtracks the few miles. they are closed. "Great, just GREAT, now you wasted something like a half litre on that. Just stop at some of the other card only stations, maybe not ALL of them hate USA cards." stops at 24/24 station. inserts card. card is regurgitated like a bad taste in the French machine's mouth. Gets back in car. "Goddammit, I wish I had a better idea of how far Chalus is, freaking routier is indecipherable. Maybe I'll just drive some more and see what my gut feels like. Maybe someone will let me pay them to use their card. Maybe I should call J-Y in Thiviers and see if he'd meet me. Maybe that is the dumbest worst idea ever. Maybe the station at Champion is open and manned" nope. "Maybe I'll turn around at the next cirque and go home because I don't want to be stranded in fucking French countryside until Monday." best idea yet Kim. drives direction Limoges in anticipation of upcoming cirque. "Oh MY GOD there's a station and the mechanic's bay is open. Are those people inside?! Hallelujah pass the fucking pancakes!" leaps out and decides to go for broke and fill the tank. $50 euros and 5 minutes later, is happily humming on the road to Limoges.

Why is it that this is the travelogue of my life? Folks, I share about two-tenths of the running comedy of errors that is Kim's life. A little is funny. The whole truth might prompt a petition drive to have yours truly committed against her will. sigh. I'm way too far into this little nightmarish drama called my life to change now, at least it provides material.

Following this little episode, the drive was uneventful. And by the end I figured out that Chalus is roughly between 60-70 km from Brantome. Not bad.

I pull into the place and see a little corner bar bustling with patrons. The only bustling going on in the area, I might add. but the terrasse was full and, entering the bar I could see only one or two little tables available. I approached the bar and ask, in what passes for my French, if I can take the small table at stage's edge. The bartender responds they are complete for the night. Yikes! I fold and ask if I can speak English. Thankfully yes. "Amy invited me. Is there no where you can put me?" adds sorrowful expression. "Ahhh, Amy invited you. Well she's upstairs with Eric. Go on up. We'll figure something out."

I ascend the stairs and see Amy and Eric sat at a dining table, poring over what appear to be notes for the evening. Eric spots me first and looks askance. As soon as they hear my voice, I am recognized. Apparently I have an Accent! An American Accent! lmao. that still hasn't ceased to crack me up. I find myself mentally playing back my voice and analyzing said accent.

This upstairs area is also where the kitchen resides and there is massive activity underway, with dinners being plated left and right.

I'm embarrassed to intrude on the musicians' preparations, but after several rounds of "Please, sit down" and "No I don't want to interrupts", I finally take a seat and have a chance to chat with the pair.

Eric was gregarious and immediately began regaling me with tales of life in France and various bits of entertainment in a very fun accent. I won't dare speculate region, other than British. Amy was a bit more reserved, but so warm and welcoming and what a treat to hear a fellow American accent. I'm not sure why exactly, but I guess it is has something to do with being afloat in a sea of foreigners and ... no matter how lovely they've been ... to catch a glimpse of familiar terra firma and be reassured that not every last bit of one's otherness has disappeared.

It seemed we could sit and chat all night but then, hey! there was a restaurant full of folks downstairs awaiting the show and I was standing in between them and that. I was offered more wine in my glass and I made my way down the stairs. I was adopted by a friend of Amy's (Angie), a british woman living in France with her husband and teenage son Ned, a budding musician. Eyeing me milling about, wondering where to perch, she invited me to sit at her table for 2 and eventually it was made to a table for 3 when her son arrived. I still had time for steak frites before the show and then, around 10ish with the last plates having been whisked away ... the couple appeared and the show began.

And what a show it was! The two took turns performing a mix of each other's hits and cuts from their new c.d. (now in my possession! yay). When I say took turns, they continuously played together...backing each other up or singing duet.

Amy may be the more reserved of the two (in my limited observation) but she plays a mean and gritty guitar and her lyrics were compelling. She also played piano on a couple of numbers. Eric switched up guitars frequently, with some killer solos on the electric. They complemented each other amazingly well and, for just the 2 performers, the music filled the senses. There was some experimentation involving a laptop on 1 or 2 numbers that was also a kick.

I was surprised at the reaction in the audience, particularly the French. There was one table of 6 or eight right up front. The ladies at the table seemed rather sedate. Not a lot of movement in the beginning, but as they warmed up they were tapping and clapping. And when a few of them, on the final number "Take the K.A.S.H." arose and punk-hopped their way on the makeshift dance floor, it was something to behold. The big finish included "The Whole Wide World", which I've been humming most of the day.

The music and venue were fabulous. I enjoyed every moment of it. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby were engaging and rocked the house. If you are in one of the designated tour cities, you'll be loathe to miss seeing them in person.

I attempted some clips on my camera. I've not made a YouTube before, I'm going to try later and if I can and its worthy, I'll post it up. You can search them on YouTube and find them both as well, maybe that will be my plan "B".

The only bad part is now they are departing in a couple of days for their "Grand Tour" and won't be back until November ... so a rendezvous redux will be on hold until after then. I'm looking forward to a reprise, I think, no I'm certain an evening spent in the company of these two will be very entertaining!


Our Juicy Life said...

wow...you were "with the band", you were so cool! Glad you finally made it there and didn't run out of gas, that would really suck.

Didn't meet some handsome french man to take home?

La Belette Rouge said...

I am, as you can imagine, delighted that you shared a little about your prep and the mindset as you prepped for your big night our. I love that stuff!! Aqua? Hmm, are you feeling more watery, emotional or are you entering new depths?? What brought about this sartorial colour switcharoo??

And, just fyi, I hardly ever do lower lash mascara. I am impressed!!

Sounds like it was a great night---and that you didn't let obstacles stop you. That is the kind of gal you are.;-)

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

OJL-there were 1 or 2 cute French guys ... none came home with me though!

LBR-I don't know ... versions of this color have been haunting me for a while...it is even one of the primary colors for our store's walls and logo. I do love it~ (the photo in the link is more turquoise than the color ... but you get the drift)

Randal Graves said...

Wait, all we hear is that Visa is everywhere or some crap. You should have tried Discover. Or bartered with swanky American goods!

Sounds like it was quite the eventful evening. Good thing the barkeep spoke anglais. :)

Our Juicy Life said...

I am also a top lash girl.

Amanda said...

You really ought to include a photo of the turquoise ensemble. I enjoyed this post immensely!

La Framéricaine said...

French men think American women are easy. Which of course, I always was... But that is beside the point.

Beware of cultural stereotyping and small towns. It might be a very good idea to go to Paris for any walks on the wild side, assuming, of course, that you have the remotest interest in taking any, walks, that is.

I never did find any evidence of clumsiness in your post. Did you spill some of that wine? Did you put salt on the offending stain to stop it in its tracks?

Congrats on hanging with the band and getting out and about. It sounds like you had a wonderful, adventurous time!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

RG-you gotta go when they're in Cleveland - She's live in Cleveland, man! she understands ...

high fives OJL~

Amanda ... do I detect a new commenter! thanks, maybe I shall, and I look forward to checking out your blog. Welcome to mine!

LaF-the clumsiness of my mind and almost getting stranded, and no ... no spillage (whew). It was an absolute blast!

Jaap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pieter said...

Sorry for the lateness, but I am on edt time.

Dazzle is what you have done to me.

You were able to hear and talk to the Lord Eric and Her Ladyship Amy.
All I have been able to do is have a one-way talk to the albums.
Very Limiting.

I too have had that drive in France looking for gas in all the wrong places
and seeing nothing but miles of lonely dark roads.

As to my profundities, I will have to investigate deeper into its meaning
before I will be able to reply sagaciously.

I will now return to the cave forthwith

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

pieter, welcome to my blog and don't stay in the cave forever! the albums are wonderful, I'm sure but won't compare to the actual amazing couple.