I was going to set this story in Paris. I have never been to Paris, but I took two years of French in the Community College. I saw some film strips and videos that may not have even been shot in Paris (the Eiffel Tower seemed always to be suspiciously prominent in the background) but it left me with an impression of Paris that I thought might be fun to use as a setting. Thin men in black turtleneck sweaters and berets smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Thin women with the look of a perpetual kiss riding forward at the front of their face. Baguettes were being carried back and forth, as if there were great piles of baguettes out of frame on either side. And of course red checkered tablecloths and bottles being uncorked. “Telephone,” somebody calls out a window. “Jean-Paul … telephone.” But in French, of course. I would have to look that up. I failed French. Maybe the textbooks are still in storage.
In my story a man and woman on vacation in France would fight about a broken camera, a wine stain, a cork crumbling into a bottle. The woman would look like my ex-wife. The man would look like me only taller and with a stronger chin.
My ex-wife and I went to Germany during the last year of our marriage. We fought about a broken camera, a beer stain, an uncooked sausage. I got drunk one night and made something that apparently could be interpreted as a pass at a pretty blond girl walking by with enormous pewter steins in either hand. You might ask me why set the story in Paris, then. A writer should write what he knows. And it is a point well taken. Write what I know. But I have never been to Germany either.
Written between 2:35 and 2:55 on 12/19/03 in my office at work with people either knocking on my door or looking in my window or calling on the phone to tell me things I really have no interest in hearing.