What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you while traveling?
Last fall, Mr. A and I were in Paris walking through the Christmas-themed market on the Champs-Elysees, and came upon a stall selling all kinds of sheepskins and sheepskin-themed things. Because I was the size of a house with Kick, I zeroed in on the baby booties and Mr. A went looking for a skin to cover the floor of her room.
(On the grounds that the rug we’d bought was not going to be soft enough to cushion her once she started crawling around. Because of course it wouldn’t.)
He called me over to see some giant, mangy, greasy thing that the young man who ran the place was sure would work perfectly. It smelled like a whole flock of sheep had been licking it, and it felt stiff and unpleasant. I smiled at the proprietor and after the usual inept attempts at French explained in English I would rather have something more fuzzy.
The owner wrinkled his nose. “What is … fuzzy?”
The words don’t convey the epic disdain in his tone, as if “fuzzy” was a particularly disgusting sex fetish I’d just asked him to satisfy. And his expression grew no less contemptuous when I tried to define fuzzy by petting another animal skin, washed and bleached and probably fake. Tourists, ugh.
In the end I convinced Mr. A that hauling a smelly dead critter on a plane was one of those things that got you put on the no-fly list, and we took home a pair of booties instead. Just yesterday it was finally cold enough for her to put them on.
And the whole hourlong walk we went on, I kept asking her, “What is fuzzy?” Her answering expression mirrored the man who’d sold us the boots precisely.