When Jacques Chirac Trumps it All

Yesterday, for Copain's 31st birthday, I planned a scavenger hunt around Paris based loosely on the theme "Thirty-Fun"- thanks Heather Spohr!

Each riddle took him to a new spot where he had to take a photo - photo with Victor Hugo (also born in February), photo at number 31 at Hôtel de Ville, ride around the Grand Roue (ferris wheel) at Concorde, etc etc. The whole time he told me that I needed to make it easier - that he was not a riddle guy. Duly noted...

He got especially stuck on this one:

The Academie Française would die if they knew the words we used and why! Do they even have a clue that royals can be dophines too? So find the street where fish would swim if they came to Paris on a whim. Extra points at 31 if you make a fish-face just for fun :-)

Ok. maybe it was a stretch that he would see "Academie Française" and know that it was about a play on words, then connect the French word for someone who is royal with the French word for dolphin (that I purposefully added an "e" to, in an effort to help him out!), then think - ah! yes! she must mean the rue Dauphine!

Yeah, that didn't happen at all. I had to coax him along and finally end with - you know, royals! Dauphins! but also - un dauphin! a dolphin! You know, like the rue Dauphine!

Not exactly the effect I was going for. But alas.

My plan for the rue Dauphine was to take him to a sushi lunch at one of our old standbys, but on our way to number 31 for the fish-face photo, we passed by the restaurant Azabu - one of the nicest, most authentic, Japanese restaurants in Paris. We had tried to go about 2 years ago, but hadn't realized that it was more of a special occasion kind of restaurant until we looked at the menu out front. In any case, it made my sushi plan look a lot pathetic. Despite Copain's claim that a sushi boat sounded really good, I knew it was the price tag that was keeping him from admitting he really preferred Azabu. Heck, I preferred Azabu! And, it was his birthday - so, feeling bad that I hadn't thought of it myself and made a special Azabu riddle (that he would not have understood) - I insisted that we eat there instead.

As we negotiated our way to the two open spots at the bar (instead of downstairs, where they initially suggested we sit), Copain hit my arm and whispered, "Do you know who that is??!!!!!" 

Ladies and gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs, Jacques Chirac, The President of France from 1995-2007, was eating lunch at Azabu.

Copain could barely contain himself. 

As I begged him not to take photos and embarrass me in this restaurant no bigger than 200 square feet (I could have thrown my chopstick and hit Jacques in the head), he immediately starting updating his Facebook status, texting his parents and telling me that I just couldn't understand. Then he told me that it would be like having Bill Clinton at the table next to us. 

What he doesn't know is that I would never take a photo of Bill Clinton. Or Brad Pitt, or Beyoncé. J'ai horreur de ça!

We ordered our lunch and started to dig into the deliciousness that had been cooked right before our eyes by Azabu's amazing chef.  It was obvious that the restaurant and all of its patrons were on pins and needles having The Jacques Chirac in their presence. Then, as the Chirac party finished their meal and stood up to go, Iphones suddenly appeared out of nowhere! Everyone wanted a photo with the man himself. Even top chef, and sushi chef, and tiny waitress in the back, and busboy from downstairs. 

And the Japanese tourists sitting next to us.

At 80 years old, poor Jacques was so weak from illness that he could barely walk or hold himself up; each new person who jumped in for a photo became his support cane.  Sometimes he'd throw a bisous on the waitress' forehead for good measure. 

I could see Copain sweating - should I ask for a photo?! Finally, he jumped up, gave his Iphone to Bisous Waitress, plugged himself under Jacques armpit so he wouldn't fall over and said Cheese.

And that mes amies, is how Jacques Chirac trumped my birthday scavenger hunt, my Apple store gift card and my dinner reservations at Mama Shelter.

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