a cheapskate, a coquine and a B.J.

With a title like that, what on earth could I be getting into now?

You'll see, you'll see...

Before I get into that, there's something about an American actor or celebrity coming to Paris that always piques my interest. If I were to ever cross paths with, I don't know, living God Philip Seymour Hoffman here in Paris, I would see no problem in saying hello. Whereas if we were in New York, or worse the playground of stars, Los Angeles, forget about it. I wouldn't think twice about approaching him, no, not on our soil. I guess you could say that I would never dare. But being abroad, I feel almost akin to fellow Americans passing through, breaking down the boundaries of status, stripping down to our core, and sharing a common bond of what we are in this particular setting: Americans abroad.

With that in mind, last night Paris Cheapskate Jenna and I headed to famous Anglo bookshop Shakespeare and Company to hear B.J. Novak, the writer slash actor of the American version of "The Office" to read excerpts of his upcoming book. That's what I meant by B.J...geez, what did you think I was talking about? And I'm the coquine around here....

The reading was due to start at 7 and wanting proper seats, we planned to meet in front of the shop at 6. Arriving at ten to six, I saw no signs of Jenna and waited until about 6:15 and saw no choice but to do what any girl would do on a hot summer's day in a city; I treated myself to a glass of rosé on the patio of the neighboring café.

While enjoying the late afternoon sun beat down, I noticed that the line was begining to form outside of the bookshop. With still no word from Jenna, I had my last sip of wine and headed back over to investigate further. Jenna, who was already waiting in the bookshop since around the time that I arrived waved me in. Despite the fact that we were there before anyone, we were still escorted out of the mini shop, and asked to go to the back of the line. When explaining to the staff that we had been there for over an hour, we were served a steaming plate of tough toodles for us and our poor planning. We stood corrected at the back of the line with the other poor planners. Diss.

Just as we were moving forward, attendees that should have been us were sat in prime real estate, which was inside the bookshop. Before even getting a big toe in the front door, we were at the cut off mark and the shop was at capacity. We were invited to listen to the reading outside on the metal chairs they had set out for the unfortunate. Just then I heard one of the volunteers announce that there was limited seating upstairs. Reviewing our options, we could 1. listen to the reading outside in front of the store, or 2. do the same exact thing upstairs surrounded by books with the risk of it being devastatingly hot. Looking at the grey clouds creeping in, listening to the reading dry became a new concern, making option 2 the more attractive choice.

Once upstairs with ten other people, I overheard one of the shop clerks in the hallway barking instructions to the volunteer to give to us: "Tell them that once they are up here, they cannot leave, cannot go to the bathroom, cannot talk, cannot exit the way we came in, and that if any of them think that they cannot stay for the entire reading, they best leave now. Tell them!"

Jesus. It's a reading not high school detention. 

The volunteer repeated the strict instructions that he was issued before shutting the door on us ten strangers, locked in an attic-like room in Paris. Nothing lubricates an otherwise awkward situation like a little wine, and guess who came prepared? Me. Pulling out reinforcements, Jenna and I toasted to the mini bottle of Bordeaux I came armed with, complete with hot pink plastic cups. We were set for a reading in Paris. Cheers. 

Much to my amusement, the shop clerks and volunteers occasionally peeked their heads into the room to check on us, the kids. The reading itself, despite not being able to see the author was quite good. Some of his best lines were so simple, yet were pure gold. The writer in me couldn't resist the mental, damn why didn't I think of that? He is talented and that's why he writes for television...and I don't. He ended the reading by acknowledging that he was living out his dream, presenting his written work at this celebrated bookshop in Paris. Any writer could appreciate that, because he's right, it is the ultimate dream.

The reading ended roughly at 8 and a glass of rosé was offered to all of the attendees to enjoy outside, which presented an opportunity to meet in person. At that point Aurélien and his friend Tom showed up on their little French hipster bikes relishing and almost beaming from the Anglo action happening out on the street.

With Thomas providing full documentation of our meeting with B.J, this is sort of how it played out...

Scene 1:
B.J happy to meet his American fans.
Me, making my best Spring Break face.
I may have shouted "woo hoo" during this shot.
It is completely possible.

Scene 2:
Such disdain for la coquine! 
What did I say now?
I must have offended B.J somehow.
Again, completely possible.

Scene 3:
B.J giving up and seeing what the other American chick has to offer.
Me throwing a fit because B.J isn't lavishing me with attention.
Poor baby.

Scene 4: 
Jenna, working her magic.
No dice.

Scene 5:
Leaving, looking fulfilled with our B.J. experience.
And we were.

The night continued with Mexican food at a nearby restaurant, an impromptu dance party alongside the quai to a brass band performing under a tree rehearsing for tonight's fête de la musique, and a night cap on a sweet little boat cafe playing bossa nova along the Seine.

Summers in Paris may be rainy and cool, but it will take a little more than that to stop the American gals from a having a good time.
We just can't help it.

Bon week-end!


  1. Supper fantastic!
    I love how you put your hand on BJ's shoulder as if you were old pals. hahaha

    Bon week-end à toi aussi!

    1. I kind of felt like I knew him, you know, after watching so many years of 'The Office' on television, the ultimate source of honest portrayals! I had fun chatting with him those few minutes, but I think he was done for the night and was ready to go out without people asking him Dunder Mifflin questions. Couldn't blame him, he was only in Paris a few days!

      It was a great evening. I hope you had a lovely last weekend as well!

  2. Oh my God! It's the Fête de la musique today! How fabulous! One day, I WILL be in Paris on that date! I hope you get nice weather!:))

    I watched (again!) last week one of my fave French films - Le Code a changé -, which takes place on the 21st of June two years in a row. It was filmed in June 2008, when France was presiding the EU and the Eiffel tower was blue:)

    Enjoy and have a great weekend!:)

    1. Yeah! We had a nice time. We went to a cafe up the street that has a great cover band, so we sat ourselves American style at the bar (that was empty because everyone was on la terrace) and enjoyed the tunes and conversation. The weather held up and only had to wear a mohair sweater and a scarf! boo.

      I'll have to check out Le Code a changé. Is there mention of fete de la musique? Or we just know its June 21st?

      The final scene in "2 days in Paris" is supposed to be on the 21st. It's subtly mentioned in the dialogue, Julie Delpy merely says it's "Music Day" and we see performances on the street, but we're too distracted by their break up scene to accept this piece of information. It took living here to understand what she meant by music day!

  3. Bon weekend from moi aussie. Your lovely description captures the spirit of a good summer night out in Paris Perfectly.

    BJ is a great improvement on Ricky Gervais I must say.

    Love Denise

    1. Are you referring to the British "Office"? A big American shame on me: I have never seen it. I have seen Ricky Gervais in other things and do think he is really funny though. Is he not as loved in the UK as us Americans think he is?

      In that vein, I had drinks with an Australian girl a few nights ago and just automatically assumed that she loved Nicole Kidman, because don't all Aussies like her?

      I hope you had a lovely weekend. Heading over to your blog to see what's new. : )

  4. AnonymousJune 23, 2013

    Love the story and the pics. Sorry you didn't get in the main room but alas, you were prepared with the vino! Good thinking!

    Oh, and, I am the same with celebs.. I wouldn't never go up to one in NYC, but a fellow American in France-- if I'd actually go for it, that would be the time (a glass of red would help)!

    1. You know, I think the upstairs was quite nice. We heard him perfectly through the monitors and I sipped my wine, closed my eyes and just listened. There was also a nice breeze (read: oscillating fan blasting) coming in and out of the otherwise stuffy room. I was made in the shade. : )

      So it's not just me who thinks it is kind of okay to say hi to stars here? Good! I just feel like we're "allowed" to over here. No one is excused from culture shock and the experience of being on foreign land that for once you have something immediately in common with them. One of my French girlfriends has seen Maggie Gyllenhaal like five times in the past year here....not sure I'd say hi to her though, I really like her but she seems kind of mean. : )

  5. This is so funny, I love your captions on the photos. I think BJ was so personable and I've seen his face so many times that I kind of felt like... we were already friends or something? And it got really easy to ask him ultra-specific questions like "What are you doing this weekend?" and "How long are you in town for?" And then all of a sudden (around scene 4) it finally dawned on me that actually, no, we do NOT know him and he is NOT interested in what we have to say.

    Oh well. Still a good Thursday night BJ.

    1. Hahahaaha we SO thought we were down with the B.J...but yeah, in the end, not so much.

      Hahahaha "ultra specific questions"..."Where are you staying? -- no, I'm not following you." I think that was the moment he had given up on me and moved on to you.

      I do wonder where fete de la musique took him. Maybe he has a blog too....

  6. Tee hee, love the instructions for staying in the loft :oD Did you make off with any good books up there?