Mighty Life List
Jul 15 2013

American Theme Party in Paris

I finally make it home from Paris Bastille Day celebrations at 3 a.m., having been trapped in a huge crowd at the Eiffel tower.

I’m woken at 10 a.m. by vuvuzelas. The American bar across the street from my apartment is hosting an American theme party. I watch them out the window as they arrive and laugh at each other’s costumes. There’s a small group of men in overalls with no shirts, one of them is wearing a new Giants baseball cap — my home team. There is a single black man, he has a pick lodged in his hair. They scream and honk when cars drive by, the cars honk back. Everyone cheers. More men arrive in Hawaiian shirts and straw hats.

The women show up wearing workout sneakers, low-cut T-shirts and shorts, or shirts with slogans printed on them. They have fake tattoos drawn on their upper arms, large flower fascinators in their hair. All of them are carrying things — multiple plastic bags, huge purses, messenger bags with the straps worn cross body, and an inexplicable giant SpongeBob doll. Two more women arrive with huge cameras around their necks and begin snapping, so the Parisians gamely pose by removing cell phones from their bags and taking selfies.

Another car drives by and honks. They cheer.

A few hours later, the men begin to do push ups in the alley, sitting on each other’s backs. Then one of them overturns a keg and tries to run on top of it like it’s a barrel. While his friends hold him up on either side, they shout traditional American sayings like:

AH, fuck me!
That game was RIGGED!

They also imitate American tourists imitating French people:

VIVE LA FRANCE! VIVE LA FRANCE!

There’s a detail out of place of course — every one of them is smoking. And smoking. And then having a cigarette afterward. I watch their increasingly athletic efforts until someone arrives with a bull horn. The noise grows frantic, and a man’s voice shouts “THREE, TWO, ONE!” The whole group takes off on a sprint around the block, kegs hefted over their heads.

It has been quite a while and they haven’t returned. I would assume they surrendered the effort, but that would be tasteless.

Viva la France.

12 Responses to “American Theme Party in Paris”

  • Mai Says:

    Was going to write something about Dexy’s Midnight Runners posing as Americans when they travel to Paris, but overalls are actually making a comeback. So, well-played French people, well-played.

  • Mrs. Kennedy Says:

    Well, at least no one burned a flag.

  • Anne At Large Says:

    I kind of wanted this to be an “American In Paris” theme party. I love so many things about that movie. This sounds like something out of a movie as well, but less Gershwin-y.

  • Laura Mayes Says:

    I love this. I now want to throw a theme party where Americans dress as people in Paris throwing an American theme party.

  • dd Says:

    Brilliant. It feels like eavesdropping to hear what people really think of you!

  • Sarah Von Says:

    When I lived in New Zealand (I’m American), our going away party was built on the theme of ‘America! Fuck Yeah!’ We served brownies, chili, baby carrots with Ranch dressing and played Bob Dylan/Jon Bon Jovi/Bruce Springsteen/John Melloncamp.

    Everyone dressed up and the best was a couple in which the woman dressed as Evel Knievel and the man dressed as Colonel Sanders. He carried a bucket of chicken with him during the entire party and would occasionally microwave it and then wander around, wafting the smell of fried chicken in party goers faces. It was amazing. :D

  • Roxanna Says:

    But did they have red Solo cups? That is the key, Frenchies!

  • Nan Says:

    But the women also have to constantly shriek “Ohmigod!” at everything and everyone at an American-theme party or it’s not an American-theme party.
    The “d” is optional.

  • Malface Says:

    Ha that is awesome !!! Something I would have wanted to see. Maggie you are an amazing writer BTW. Described it perfectly.

  • Pulasthi Wanniarachchi Says:

    Visit Sri Lanka to feel the natural beauty

  • MOLLY! Says:

    When I was in Paris someone didn’t believe I was American because I wasn’t wearing “flop-flops.”

  • Jeff Wing Says:

    We spent all of 20 minutes in the Paris environs on our honeymoon. Wandering Gare du Nord, the train station, like wide-eyed stroke victims. We were en route to a picturesque/macabre little village called Uzerche; all beige buildings and cobblestone, and cocktail lounges lit up like operating theaters. Dizzyingly odd. In our Parisian 20 minutes a dapper gentleman with a Cousteau mien asked if we needed help buying our connecting tickets and we held out our ninny hands, the funny French currency slowly awakening from its crushed wad like a flower blooming. The full flower of our idiocy. City of Light.