Monday, 30 July 2012

THE THIRTEENTH WEEK - Roleplaying and Some Other Things

Our week started with the very lovely end of the week before.  A friend who’d been staying with us for a few days was heading back down to Oz and so we sent her off with a typical French picnic. We sat by the Seine, the river sparkling in the sunset and spread out a delicious feast of saucisson and cheese and salads and baguette. And wine, of course.
Dancers danced in the little amphitheatres by the riverside, each stone pit dedicated to a different style of music – a throng of salsa-ists in one, a sparse scattering of tango-ists in the next and a lone interpretive dance couple gyrating and leaping in another.
We walked past the towering monolith of the Notre Dame in the late summer heat and watched a  boat load of aging wedding guests dance to classic rock-n-roll by soft yellow torchlight.
Friendliness and dancing were in the air and it was beautiful.
Then, I was kind of almost mugged.  It happened very quickly, a drunk asked for money and, when refused, grabbed me around the neck.  I had no idea what was going on but my brave (and feminine) companions fought him off with angry words.  It was a strange experience.  So utterly unexpected after all the peacefulness and festivity before it.  It in no way soured the evening, which I guess shows how special the night was.
We’d spoken earlier in the week of ‘gender roles’ and it was such a perfect example of their fragility/bogusness.
On Monday I bumped into someone randomly in a far away arrondissement, and so for the first time felt nice and part of the city.  I’d been heading to meet another person but couldn’t find them, when someone shouted from across the street.  It was a guy we’d met at an exhibition some time earlier.  A nice feeling of being connected to the city.
Wednesday we had some friends over or dinner, it was a full night and it was nice to entertain. At lunchtime I met with M’s boss to discuss roleplaying.  It was an interesting lunch, sitting in a classy French bistro, surrounded by expensive suits and sparkling earrings, discussing the fact that the Dark Lords rule the Earth and only an Elven priest and his rag-tag entourage could hope to restore balance.
The next day M. and I walked around in the sweltering heat.   It was actually very fun – the city relatively quiet in the mid-summer sun, the trees cool and green; the bizarre mingling of the scents of rubbish rotting in the sun and croissants baking in the boulangeries.  And after hours in the sun, no third degree burns!  Unfathomable!
So Friday came, when I would put to use all the lunch-time preparations...  Another sweltering day, arriving at a grey cul de sac, Orthodox jews smoking outside the apartments, a few suspicious tracksuited youths jumping over fences.
M’s boss - a fun and energetic guy who reminds me of Michael J. Fox, that irrepressible youthful energy and easy smile – led me into the apartment and bid me don a mask so’s to increase the curiosity of the other players (none of whom, except the host, expected an extra attendant).  Sitting in the cozy room, around the coffee table, surrounded by all the nerdy books I’ve had to leave behind I wasn’t supposed to talk to the others and simply sat, sweating like a pig beneath the white plastic phantom face.  I listened enraptured, and a little nervous, to the music that is storytelling in French.  I think (hope) I actually understood quite a lot of it.  Then, the players were transported to an alternative reality (within this alternative reality – woo!) where, in an amazing display of generosity and bilingual skill, it was explained they could no longer think or speak in French but only in English.  And so, I was introduced and could remove the damn mask.
So the game began properly (for me at least) and the next several hours were joyous.  I realise this probably won’t make much sense to most people but for me the hobby of roleplaying is such a thoroughly enjoyable thing.  To have gone for almost four months without it has been well, not really difficult as such but ... to do it again: all the laughing, the thrill of shared imaginings, the story telling, sharing a few drinks and not talking about anything important, simply revelling in glorious make believe.  Ah, the pure fun of it
 The next evening a friend’s birthday.  We arrived at her apartement, such an apartement! High up on the fifth floor, quaint niches carved into the walls, cute pastel cupboards and tiny spaces.  Everyone was having fun and the sangria was flowing freely, we were welcomed like old friends and tried to practice our halting French.  So many smiles, so many broken sentences, and we felt a bit more like part of Paris.

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