Had the best day in Paris I ever had, probably because I took it as a day, living in the Moment(French pronunciation,) not expecting or hoping that something was just around the corner, just looking at the corner itself. And of course there are no more beautiful corners in the world than the ones in Paris-- a friend of mine once called it an open-air museum, and that is what it is. My clever daughter-in-law had come here once on an architectural tour so had given me a destination I had never even heard of the two times I lived here(very young and not that old,) the Butte Chaumont, a park in the 19th where I'd never been.
The day began exceedingly fair, not a cloud in the sky, rare for Paris. Mimi and I walked the Champs Elysees, crossed the Avenue Montaigne, where I'd begun as a sprite-in-training, to the Pont de l'Alma. There were still fresh flowers on the Herald-Tribune monument, a gold torch in symbolic imitation of the Statue ofLiberty's. Most people think that a memorial to Diana, since that was the place she went into the tunnel. A Parisian woman put a rose on the pile at the base, and said it was good that people still remember. Someone said in the course of this journey that the whole thing about Diana had gone on too long, but I'd read a wonderful piece in the NYTimes about our need to grieve, and that this at least gave us something good to grieve about.
Then Mimi and I crossed over to the Left Bank, made an attempt to talk reason to Air France which charged $150 for Mimi to come and refused to let me pay round trip at the start, wanting the 150 Euros to take her back, which by the time I leave will probably be about $250. Every day sees another bad hit thanks to George Bush, whom the good George(Clooney) called an imbecile in an interview with the French press. Anyway, it has been worth it to have her here as she is loved by all the French, even those who can't stand each other. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friendship with the family who lived upstairs from me on Rue de la Pompe; they'd invited me to dinner my fist night here, so I could renew my love affair with Gaspard, who is now eleven and was my favorite little boy(he was two) until my gifted son made me a grandma.
Walking along the Quai D'Orsai I stopped at Cafe Fregate across from the Louvre and wrote the following pome.
Je trouve my groove
En face du Louvre
Trying not to move into rage
At seeing George Bush
With his moosh like a tush
On the Herald-Tribune front page.
They were just out of it
When we stopped for a bit
At the Pont de l'Alma ce matin
Where Diana's face
Still haunts the place
Where the end of her life began.
The absence of news
Liberated my Muse
And Paris became its own pome
Where the sky looks much higher
And souls aspire
To make this work of art into home.
The air is so frais
On this rare, sunlit day
That you think you could live here forever
With a heart full of love
And that sky high above
And a head full of things that are clever.
But the unvarnished truth
Is that even with yourh
And a truly original flair
Though the place won't erase you
Neither will it embrace you
It's a city that just doesn't care.
Actually when I first returned to live here in '97 I met a woman who'd been Art Buchwals's secretary. She was still beautiful, Dietrich-ish, and when I told her how much I loved(or wanted to be loved by) Paris, she said the city was "indifferent." I suppose it's easy to be indifferent when you're that beautiful. Used to praise.
Anyway, I loved the park in the 19th, took Mimi home for her first ride on the Metro which was almost her last. There was a pit bullwithout a leash, against the law but that doesn't bother Parisians, and Mimi had the same innocence I guess I used to have, and greeted him with a friendly bark. Fortunately he was as indifferent as Paris, so ignored her, lying fat and panting under the seat of his owner, a few chairs away from a baby in terrified Mother's arms. Ah, Paree! Toujours an avanteur.
Had dinner with a French mother and daughter I knew from Bali, and the next day lunched with a lovely Frenchwoman, Dominique, and her son Dorian, whom Robert, my son, calls "the little boy who killed Happy." If you remember the story, Happy and I on a visit here in '97 had lunch at Pere La Chaise, at the tomb of Oscar Wilde, and that night ate at a small restaurant where a chubby little boy, just over one year old, ran up and down the sidewalk and played with Happy. A beautiful woman came and put a glass of champagne in front of me and said, in French I could understand, "this is because you were so kind to my son Dorian." "Dorian?" I repeated. "After Dorian Gray," she said.
Being then in the deepest trough of my mysticism, I could not think it a coincidence, made friends with her and invited them to come to my hotel the next evening for a drink. Dorian was in his full puppyhood, and Happy, quite old, seeing the presence of a younger dog, went fully into his macho, and became Happy of the Jungle, fiercely running around the room, holding his toy bone in his mouth, his youth and vigor restored.
Right after that, we all left the hotel. They went their way, and Happy suddenly fell to the sidewalk, legs outstretched, rigid. I called the vet and he said it was a heart attack, and I would have to put Happy down. We sat a restaurant, Happy in my lap as I sobbed, and gave him a strand of fettucini Alain Delon. I took him back to the hotel, called Robert in LA, and we wept over it together. Then I told Happy I didn't want to have to put him to sleep. I turned off the light and patted him, comforting him, asking him please to help me. When I turned on the light at four in the morning, he was dead.
I took him to Vanves in the back velvet bag I had used to smuggle him into the Literary Guild party, and cremated him, afterwards sprinkling his ashes on all the greats of Pere La-Chaise. The poem about it exists, if any of you want to read it. Gregory Peck liked the poem so much he was kind enough to record it for me.
Dorian,.a beautiful boy, now eleven, still has Happy's toy bone on his wall, his mother told me. And, oh yes, he has a CD that his mama, gave me. I do hope it's wonderful. And that he will become a great vedette. That's star.
It would be only right. Happy was sooooooooooooooo talented.