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STORY TIME: That's One Way to Meet a (French) Movie Star


The only real trouble my old high school friend Jon and I had traveling our way across Western Europe when we were nineteen (aside from sharing the same name) was a single spat caused by a grumpy me, me being grumpy from lack off sleep, coming off yet another long train ride, this one overnight, and the inevitable overlong urban hike from train station to youth hostel after, the sun already high in the sky, our massive Mountain Equipment Coop packs on our backs helping to exponentially increase the temperature back there, where the pools were forming and sliding steady droplets down the base of our spines.

I want to say we were in Amsterdam at that point, but now you know why I have good reason not to remember so well. (All those museums, Mum.)

Like many, when I get tired I mumble. Over the course of the two months Jon and I travelled together, whenever I mumbled or, to be fair, when he was tired, Jon would say, 'Huh? as in what. I was never a big fan of being huh-ed and on this particular mumbly, grumbly morning the frequency with which Jon managed not to hear me and the general annoyance of the rudeness I perceived in the word just got to me. So after yet another, 'Huh?' as we walked down another endless sidewalk leading nowhere close to where it seemed we needed to go I threw it right back at him, mimicking him with it, going 'Huh?' and again, 'Huh? managing to make it pretty damn hostile. At which point Jon dropped pack from back and whatever he'd been shlepping in his hands. This, I thought, might really get ugly. He didn't punch me, though. He just said he’d had enough of my shit. The word fuck was used. He was tried of my grumpiness. I can be a grumpy bastard and so felt immediately wrong. Like so many who grump easily, I'm also a relatively excellent apologizer. And I was sorry and the fight was basically over after that.

But about that name thing.

Seriously. We felt pretty dumb. It wasn't just that we had the same name, but the fact that the notably (or at least usually) Jewish spelling of our name is in fact the short form for a full name neither of us felt comfortable using at that age, and the sixteen times a day that you meet someone new when you travel and the inevitable introductions that Jon and I grew to quietly dread:

-Jon, I’d say by way of introduction to our new roomate, train seat neighbour, or fellow bus #64 traveller to the Vatican (that detail I do, inexplicably, remember). 
-Hi! I’m So-and-So, So-and-So would say. 
-Jon too, Jon two would say.
-Oh. Ha ha ha, So-and-So would laugh. That’s so funny. Jon squared. That’s easy.
-Yeah. Ha ha ha, one of us Jons would fake laugh. The other was required to not so subtly roll their eyes.
Multiple times in multiple new cities arrived at we considered making up names but weren’t adventurous or courageous enough to stick with.
That, however, is not the story I want to tell. Cause the story I want to tell, well:
It'll start in Egypt.
And it'll end in Paris.
If our absolute best were khakis and hiking shoes,
how, you wonder, is it ever gonna get glamorous?

And how about that movie star?
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