Once again I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know what the fuck was happening. It’s not like I’ve always had a problem with insomnia, and I knew it wasn’t exclusively jet lag—something else was happening. I could pinpoint the triggers but the exact details eluded me. All I could say for sure is I woke up with less than three hours of sleep, couldn’t stand it, got up and wrote until the girls woke up and then passed out again.
I woke up in a rush a few hours later. I jumped out of bed, dressed in the shower and caught a cab down to Palais Royal for Issey Miyake’s runway show. The girls had told me to meet them there at 13:00, so when I showed up at 13:20 and they were nowhere to be found, I got a little nervous. Lucky enough, they were even more fashionably late than I was, showing up five minutes later with a, “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long!”
“Not too long,” I said, “maybe fifteen, twenty minutes.”
We were escorted into the show by the fashion week American liaison, and as Amanda went back stage to shoot hair and makeup, Hayley told me what I’d missed.
They’d gone to meet a girl named Aimee at a hotel restaurant for brunch, but had shown up way too early and had to eat breakfast instead. Someone cool owned the restaurant apparently, but nobody remembered who that person was. Aimee, however, was very cool, in Paris writing a travel diary for Harper’s. She had previously interviewed Milk Made’s social networking guru Jess Conatser, and from the sounds of it, Aimee had a bright future ahead of her.
I shrugged off my jealousy and headed backstage to see what Amanda was doing. Backstage passes gave us more than access for capturing behind the scenes madness—it gave me access to free sandwiches and coffee. I’d barely eaten anything so far in the trip, and the free baguettes were as good as gold to me. After satiating my appetite, I went back to the riser and waited, making friends with random photographers and writers from around the world.
The show itself was okay but it made me think about all the months of prep that went into pulling off such an event. So much money was involved, funding a proverbial army of stylists, hair and makeup artists, and assistants who helped craft an image for the mercenary wing of photographers, videographers, and critics to convey to consumers eager to digest. Months and months of preparation, all for a show that lasted less than five minutes. Bizarre.
After the show, we worked our way back to the hotel just in time to leave again. Hayley had booked us reservations at a dinner party at a house owned by a guy named Jim Haynes. He’d been holding dinner parties at his spot every Sunday night for 34 years, inviting guest chefs to come cook dishes and hosting up to 80 people each week with a first come, first served, everyone’s invited reservation policy.
I wasn’t completely sure what Hayley was talking about, but she said it was cool, so we decided to do it. At the very least, the concept of dinner at some random place sounded amazingly appetizing. We all jumped on the Metro and spent the next forty minutes trying to find a nondescript gateway in the middle of nowhere.
When we finally made it inside, the polished Bohemian feel of the place hit us with force. Jim’s house was filled with a diverse crowd, with old drunk people mixing with young travelers, each with a different backstories of where they were from, going, and how they had come to be there. Hayley instantly started socializing, talking to an assorted bunch of characters including a mother who was in town for a few weeks to take ballet and French classes, a shy business student from London, and an ex-fashion PR rep turned special educator from Dallas, TX. Amanda was too exhausted to get too personal, choosing instead to hide behind her camera for most of the night, an effectively solid diversion.
I too was exhausted but had nothing to stop me from talking to people. Most of my conversations were with older people, men in their 60s who were interested in philosophy and social issues. I listened to their life stories and found ways to tie our different experiences together, giving us the chance to relate to one another. We discussed global capitalism and the current state of affairs, and every single one of them seemed especially perturbed by the political situation in the United States. I got the feeling that there weren’t very many people sympathetic to the Republican movement in the room, least of all me.
‘How did all these people find out about this place?’ I wondered.
I turned my attention to Jim. Born in Louisiana, Jim had lived in Venezuela, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam before finally moving to Paris 40 years ago. He started his dinners 6 years later and had been running them ever since. He knew everybody in the room. Jim kept introducing everyone to everybody else, probably to help him keep the names straight himself. It seemed like a very effective approach. He had a warm generous nature often found in men of his philosophical leanings, and we were very happy to be his guests.
And then, before we were ready, it was time to go. We had a party to be to, and even though we wanted to stay longer, we had places to be. We thanked our gracious hosts and said goodbye to our new friends before getting back on the train.
“Where are we going now?” I asked Hayley.
“The ‘This is New York’ party at Le Régina,” she told me.
“Will there be free drinks there?” I asked with a surprising amount of concern.
“We’ll see,” she replied.
On the train, we practiced our French.
“Bonsoir Mike Abu. C’mon ca va?”
“Bien, et toi?”
“Comme ci, comme ça.”
We laughed at our limited knowledge of the language.
“How do you say ‘I’m sorry in French’,” Hayley asked me.
“Je ne sais pas,” I replied.
I don’t say I’m sorry in any language.
We arrived at the club just before the gates opened, getting in line and meeting up with our old friends Ilene, Kelly, and our new buddy Oli Evans. We chatted outside as we waited, hearing about Oli’s restaurant and how I’d disappeared at Maxim’s. The girl with the list slowly started allowing people to filter through the door, and somehow we managed to be one of the first groups inside. We walked down a winding series of stairs to the basement bar. The place was decked out in dark red lights with angular mirrors on the ceiling, and it felt very much New York.
It was an open bar for the first hour, so I did what I always do when they’re pouring free drinks—bellied up to the bar. I ordered two vodka tonics and started writing nonsense in my moleskin, just so I didn’t have to leave my post and get back in line after finishing my drinks.
I had a system. It was called “Get Hammered.”
As I loosened up, I started talking about girls and how ridiculous they were. Oli had just broken up with his girlfriend of three years and he had a lot to say about it.
“The other day she called me up and asked me if I felt like I was single or not,” he told me.
“That’s a total trap,” I said.
“I know,” he agreed.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
Then the coolest looking guy I’d ever seen in my life looked over his shoulder and jumped into our conversation. I couldn’t quite place his background but I’m pretty sure he was German, raised in Japan.
“Nothing will fuck you up like the right girl at the wrong time,” said the blonde with a heavy Asian accent.
I don’t know if it was the words, the accent, or the sparkling lapel, but I believed him.
We all went our separate ways and I dance over to Hayley and Ilene, who were chatting about the party. Azealia Bank’s “212” was playing over head, an interesting follow up to the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. From the way Azealia describes it, I bet she get’s plenty of satisfaction.
“Parties like this don’t happen in Paris,” Ilene was telling Hayley. “They don’t usually play good music or throw good parties. How cool Parisians are is a myth.”
At that point some super cute girl walked up to me.
“I saw you writing at the bar,” she said, “Are you a writer?”
“Sort of,” I told her.
“Me too,” she said excitedly. “I’ve been covering all sorts of shows, it’s been nonstop! Yesterday I literally broke down and called my mom crying, I was so overworked, but today has been incredible! What kind of writer are you?”
I paused for a second and thought about it.
“An honest one,” I said with a sheepish shrug.
“Oh,” she said and lost interest. Fucking girls.
Then some 6’3” model, too drunk for her heels, fell over and poured her drink in my shoes.
We stayed at the party until our eyes burned with smoke, but really we left after they played the same Rihanna song for the third time. We caught a cab back to the hotel, where Hayley forced me to try to sleep on the bed.
She said that if she woke up and I was still lying on the floor, she would be offended.
“If you’re gonna lay around and stare at the ceiling all night long,” she said, “you might as well be comfortable doing it.”
Photos by Amanda Hakan
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