A reader has asked me to give the prices for certain ordinary things in Paris. I came here prepared for high prices, so things don't seem so terrible to me. A small saucepan: 16 euros, $19.50. A four-pack of yogurt: 1.83 euros, or $2.25. A bag I really want at a cool shop called Upla near St.-Germain-des-Pres: 125 euros, $152.50. A haircut on the Right Banks: 60 euros, $73. I'm figuring at 1.22 euros to the dollar.
Already, I seem to have adopted a nonverbal way of expressing myself in French. It's done with the eyebrows and shoulders raised, the lips loose and unsmiling; then a little gust of air is emitted. It means I'm surprised, I don't know the answer, and I don't care, all at once.
I've been noticing the figures of the French, especially, whether they are fat. Their obesity rate is growing but it's still much lower than ours. Anyway, I watched people passing by from a seat on the terrace at Aux Fins Gourmets, a nice little restaurant on St.-Germain-des-Pres. A quarter of the first 20 who passed from left to right were paunchy; three of the first 20 who went from right to left needed to lose a few pounds. Which means, what? That people are fatter in the 7th Arrondissement to the left than to the right, in the 6th? It made no sense to me so I settled down and ate my pot-au-feu, though I couldn't bring myself to slurp up the marrow in the tailbone the way all the people around me were doing. Marrow tastes funky to me.
By the way, that purse sits in the window at Upla. I doubt I'll break down and buy it, but it's just about all I can think about.