August 4

Everything was going so well last Saturday. I'd come back from a trip to Germany in good order. My niece and sister-in-law spent a night with me on their way back to L.A. after spending a month and a half in Europe. I felt positively upbeat.

That morning I went out to do some errands. I'm always very careful about double-locking my apartment door when I leave. Then I put the key in a special pouch inside my purse.

When I got back to the landing outside my door, I couldn't find the key and panicked.

There's a marvelous little tea shop near me, Les Nuits du Tea, where I go so often they've gotten to know me. So I used their phone to call the two people who have copies of my key. Neither was there. Then the owner of the shop suggested calling a locksmith.

Big mistake. I should have gone to a movie and tried to reach the key-holders afterward.

When the locksmith arrived, he said it would be necessary to drill a hole to get in and then replace the lock, a Picard, one of the most secure you can buy in France. I knew it would be expensive, but I never dreamed what it would cost. The locksmith drilled the hole before telling me the price of the lock replacement, so I was stuck. The tab: 1,000 euros, about $1,200. The locksmith said my landlord could get the money back from homeowner's insurance, which is obligatory in France. I'm doubtful. And then the locksmith said he didn't take credit cards, so we had to go to a cash machine. I felt those 1,000 Euros draining out of my account like blood from a vein.

It's only money, I tell myself. And frankly, I'm getting taken simply by living here, because of the weak dollar-euro exchange rate. But what a way to go.