Monday, June 1, 2009

Me and Camus at Yale

You've heard of Camus, haven't you? Oh puleeeze. The French man of letters? The grumpy existentialist who didn't want his work to be labeled existentialist? Of course you have.

To tie in with the 1st of June, which is officially part of Plagues Week according to expateek, you get to hear a little story from expateek's formative years involving The Plague, by Camus. Then, if there's time, we'll unleash another plague on some unsuspecting victim the French boss of the bad news.

Many many years ago, expateek was going on a tour of universities with her father, in the hopes of choosing where she would spend the next four years of her life. She visited Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr. She dropped by Princeton, Mount Holyoke, and Smith. She saw Brown, Wellesley, and Harvard. And she visited Yale.

She applied to several of those universities, but she most definitely DID NOT apply to Yale, because after she saw the type of students at Yale? Not so interested.

expateek had the obligatory interview with Admissions, while Dad was off colluding with the Yale economics faculty about labor economics or some such esoterica. She finished up her interview, and then decided to go outside to the lovely park in front of the main buildings, so she could read her book, La Peste, by Camus.

Surely, she thought, a lovely girl sitting on a park bench in New Haven, reading a book in the original French, would be ever so captivating. Perhaps some handsome Yalie might even stop and exchange a witticism or two about the banalities of life, or the existential sorrows of university, or..? The possibilities were endless. expateek sat and read about bubonic plague and les bubons in the park. Because she knew how attractive pestilence and pustules could be.

Then, from afar, she heard the clack, clack, clack of someone walking in platform shoes. (Yes, it was the 70's, since you ask.) The clacking slowly came nearer. It was an odd, three beat clacking, though. Two footfalls, and then a third metallic tap.

expateek's curiosity got the better of her. She looked up.

Approaching her from across the park was a tall black man, dressed entirely in a purple three-piece suit. He wore a purple cowboy hat with a huge purple feather plume stuck in the band, and purple glitter platform shoes. And carried a silver-topped purple walking stick, which provided the interesting third tap.

expateek quickly cast her eyes back down to her book.

The tapping and clacking came closer and closer. And closer.

And then suddenly, Mr Purple had joined her on the park bench.

Whatchoo readin', beautiful?

expateek didn't answer. She suddenly couldn't speak. Jumping Jehosephat, what the hell was she supposed to do here? She was too polite terrified to tell the dude to get lost, so she decided on the spur of the moment to pretend she was deaf. Or mute. Or something. She tried to keep reading.

I say, girl. Whatchoo readin'?

Mr. Purple continued, perhaps sensing that expateek had been rendered speechless by his amazing pimp-style splendour.

That book in another language? You read French, girl? Thas' so sexy, baby.

Oh sh*te. Suddenly "sexy" was the last thing expateek wanted to be.

Um. I'm just waiting for my dad. He'll be here in a minute, expateek said in a tiny mouse-like peep.

Yo' daddy? Why, baby, I be yo' daddy. You know, ah gotta whole stable o' beautiful girls jes' like you. Why donchoo come strollin' with me, back across the park, and come see mah house. It's beautiful, baby, jes like you.

OMG! It's the invitation to come to his house and join his business! As a ho'! How awesome is that? What in God's name was expateek supposed to do now?

expateek gulped, closed her book (carefully folding down the page corner so she wouldn't forget where she was) and said in a firm trembling voice, I think I hear my dad calling me. I have to go. Cuz that used to work on the playground ten years before and it sounded kind of plausible and not rude.

She stood up and started walking toward the Admissions building.

Don't be like that, baby! You can have yo' own room, even, at mah house! Jes' come on with me and have a look.

expateek heard the *clack clack tap* of Mr Purple following her. She walked faster.

Come on, girl. It'll be fiiiiine. The *clack clack tap* was keeping pace behind her.

expateek walked faster still. The *clack clack tap* sped up.

Suddenly, expateek made the biggest decision of her young life.

We'll see if The Dude can run in his flippin' platforms.

Short answer? He couldn't. Or wouldn't. And expateek tore pell-mell, all the way back to the Yale admissions building, arriving with heart pounding, and breathless with terror.

And that's how expateek made the decision to avoid a life of vice, and also a life at Yale, and she went to Wellesley instead.

But meanwhile, it's Plagues Week! And the plague of the day is.... HAIL!

Ah, look. Our favorite friend is walking, once again, on the streets of Rueil-Malmaison, just outside Paris. A lovely day, and yet...

What is this? A cloud passes overhead. Are these the blossoms from one of the flowering trees lining the boulevards of Paris? But no, eet ees a bit cold. Non, it cannot be hail. Non! But it is! Hein! How ees zees possible?

Let us try to capture this rare meteorological phenomenon on film!


5791clownhail1, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail2, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail3, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail4, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail4, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

expateek knows what you're thinking to yourselves. Shouldn't she have intervened, when she realised that le boss was going to be buried in piles of hail, dying a cold and painful death on that lovely French pavement?

Sorry, but that question only reveals your ignorance, people. Professional reporters simply report the facts, documenting the news as it happens. They cannot insert themselves into events they are covering. It's simply not done in journalism. Unfortunately, some lives will be lost, but ... how do you say it in French? C'est la vie.



Jim said...


C'est la guerre!


expateek said...

Ha, you make me giggle! Very apropos, my dear! x

Mr London Street said...

If only we could invent more plagues, like the plague of being constantly subjected to party political broadcasts on a continuous loop.

Lana said...

that was the scariest pimp story i've ever heard. yale seems to be overrated anyway.

Michel said...

a pimp AND a clown.

This blog is my worst nightmare!!!


expateek said...

Mr London -- I think nightly foam parties would be even more dreadful, though, don't you? Or are you talking about those Tory broadcasts, because they can be rawr-thuh tiresome.... Even worse than Gordon Brown in his rumpled suit.

Lana -- We specialise in scary pimps here! In fact, while researching "purple pimp" on flickr images, I realised that my purple pimp may have been the proto pimp of all time. Early 70's, streets of New Haven, first purple pimp ever! All the ones after were just wanna-bees.

Michel -- tell me your other terrors, and I'll try to work them in. As if the Sudan and its terrible cake shortage is not awful enough for you.

Mr London Street said...

Yes, I was probably too old for a foam party the one time I went to one. Sadly, the Tories have improved their broadcasts since you left the country. And Gordon Brown is just awful. Maybe a biblical plague of being smiled at by Gordon Brown would fit the bill.

Christine said...

I am speechless. That doesn't happen often. I need to screen Excuse me:

EEEEEeeeeeee! Eeeeee! Ahh! Eeeeew!

Purple pimple, ummm, I mean pimp!

Don said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wow, that was awkward said...

How flattering to be recruited as a dirty ho! At Yale no less. I hope you put that on your resume.

expateek said...

Mr London -- yes, Gordon Brown smiling at someone... too horrible to think about.

Christine -- speechless? Excellent. You can thus save your energy for the rest of the weeding you should be doing today!

Comment deleted -- Why thank you very much, sir! I'll take that as a compliment, even tho you took it back!

Wow -- I know! My resume is just chock-a-block with interesting bits like that. I just can't understand why no one ever hires me. :-( It's so weird?!?!