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Paris: A Far Cry From Romantic?

If you know anything about me, I’m a far cry from a romantic. It’s not so much by choice but more so about ability. In fact, I’m about as smooth with the women as a finely tuned table saw trying to cut through rock.

Marshall Hastings
Assistant Sports Editor





Photo Courtesy: Marshall Hastings
Photo Courtesy: Marshall Hastings

If you know anything about me, I’m a far cry from a romantic. It’s not so much by choice but more so about ability. In fact, I’m about as smooth with the women as a finely tuned table saw trying to cut through rock.

So you can imagine my perceived lack of romantic excitement as I bussed from Amsterdam to Paris, one of, if not the romantic capital of the world. The Paris nights, the Eiffel Tower, the beauty of the entire place. Pardon me for those not getting my motor running.

I’m single, traveling with a group of guys, and can’t speak a lick of French past ‘Bonjour’ (hello) and ‘Merci’ (thank you), so I realized I wouldn’t be seeking out romance, let alone finding it once I got into Paris.

But walking behind The Palais de Challiot at night changed everything. In one moment, romance came over me faster than Usain Bolt sprinting casually to a world record. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a beautiful French model casually sparking a conversation with me.

Approaching the massive brick buildings of the Palais de Challiot under a golden night sky, romance peeked its light from around the corner. All I could see was the mass of people, cameras held high, flashes beaming matched by a golden glow wrapping from behind The Palais walls into the sky.

As I walked casually into the open space in the center of The Palais’ semi-circle, a sun-like burst of light made me a romantic. A 986-foot, iron lattice tower, erupting with volcanic light dominated the night sky. At the top, a middle-school-dance-style disco ball sent two beams of light off in opposite directions of the Paris night.

The pictures and postcards just don’t do it justice. You haven’t seen the Eiffel Tower until you see the Eiffel Tower lit up like a Christmas tree with hundreds of tourists staring in awe.

Moments later, the Tower went nuts. Instead of just a powerful golden glow, lights suddenly started flashing all over the tower, mirroring the flashes that sparkled from the ground below. Like fireworks on the Fourth of July, the bursts of light lasted for ten minutes as children and adults alike stared in complete awe.

Romance was suddenly in my blood, and it wasn’t going to leave any time soon. Riding in the dreary metro of Paris, a man walked silently into the crowded car. With his amplifier tied to a mini-dolly he serenaded the metro car with soothing, melodious acoustic jazz music. And no one flinched. The entire car continued to go about their train ride as this complete stranger provided them all with music. Beautiful music that made a man want to hold someone close. The kind of music that makes you want to sit by the fire and enjoy the night.

As I sat there absorbing the songs, I couldn’t understand why I had suddenly become a romantic. Suddenly all I wanted to do was watch Dear John or The Notebook. I got sappy. The Eiffel Tower had broken me down, had weakened my romantic wall, and then the elegant acoustic guitar had completely taken me down.  I was the guy that laughed in romance movies, that thought they didn’t exist in real life, but now I had bought in. Now I was weak.

But as I looked around at the people in metro, I came to a grim reality. Seeing as I didn’t speak French and didn’t visit the city of love without a significant other, my chances for romance were probably higher in the Red Light District of Amsterdam than they were in Paris. If I wanted this trip to have some affection, I would have had to go shopping in Amsterdam, potentially getting a souvenir that I really wouldn’t want.

All I could do was sit there, watching the Paris lights flicker through the window with the light pollution blasting above in the French sky, wiping out the stars and clouds all together. I took a moment of silence for my love life, the love life that most definitely doesn’t exist in Paris. Probably a good thing though–Paris is expensive enough as is.

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