I've been trying to psych myself up to tell the tale of the French firefighter (see fact #3) for a few weeks now. It's just not that easy because it's a very different project than my usual erotic story. I have to deal with the fact that my sexual adventures of my early years were less about erotic joy than a poignant attempt to affirm my desirability. Young women are the main focus of society's lustful eye, and yet they seem the least equipped to enjoy their sexuality in a subjective way. But I do want to tackle this eventually.
Today is Bastille Day (although it's almost over in France) and that brought back another interesting memory of my summer in Avignon, not related to the firefighter directly, but all part of the same box of souvenirs.
A group of students from my French language program and I decided to go into Avignon for the fireworks on Bastille Day. I did a lot of things with the gang that I might not otherwise have done, because I tend to avoid crowds, but this seemed almost a necessary event for an American. The crowds were assembled around the famous Pont d'Avignon where the fireworks display would appear (speaking of fireworks displays, if you haven't read Emerald's fabulous story, go do it right now) and as the start time approached more and more people arrived until the crowd was pretty dense.
I remember standing there gazing up into the starry sky and probably humming "Sur le pont d'Avignon" to myself when suddenly wham! A body slammed into me from behind and a hand grabbed my buttock and squeezed roughly. The butt grabber was clearly experienced. He managed to get a handful, his fingers jammed fairly deep in my crack, so that the total effect was one of violation rather than just a casual pat on the rear. I heard a deep voice muttering something in French and then my molester evaporated into the crowd.
That was it, although the mildly painful sensation of his fingers pressing into my tender flesh lingered.
This had never happened to me in the US. Verbal assaults, yes, but I'd been fortunate enough to have escaped physical violation. Later that month, on the way to Italy, our Rome-bound train was stopped in a Marseilles train yard and my friends and I were gazing out the window at an apparently empty car next to us. Suddenly a male figure stepped out of the shadows . He dropped his trousers and started masturbating. We let out a collective "euw" and fortunately the train began to move on. Again I was in college and it was hardly traumatic, but what was the guy doing there anyway? Perhaps he greeted each train as it arrived? "Welcome to Marseilles, here's my penis"?
Now I have plenty of other memories of my first trip to Europe--the breakfasts of cafe au lait and tartines, a concert in the Pope's Palace, the oddly haunting hill towns of Provence that made me believe in reincarnation--but the storming of my Bastille will always be the first thing that comes to mind when July 14 rolls around.
How do you celebrate liberty, equality and fraternity?