I am watching a program showcasing movies that will premier in France this week. There's one called La Moustache that seems particularly interesting. From what I gather, a man shaves his mustache, then goes crazy because his wife and friends do not notice that he shaved his mustache. They, in fact, claim he never had a mustache. Everything is seen from his (unreliable?) point of view. In the trailer, there's this haunting bit: the man is broken, crouched in the shower, clutching a fistful of hair, then letting it slip down the drain. Intense. I die laughing.
The mustache thing is supposed to be a trope, I get that. By loss of mustache the director looks to convey loss of sanity. But is he also looking to convey Tom Selleck? Porn stars? They keep replaying one somber line, "What would you say if I were to shave the mustache?" Oh, this movie is going to be good.
Confession: I just started showering at the gym last week after more than a year as a non-showerer. Lugging my cleansing gear is definitely annoying, but I was scaring too many Parisians before, tromping to and fro in my nylon shorts and sweaty ponytail. I needed to change. Literally. It's not something I'm particularily proud of, my non-showering ways, but there you have it.
A French girl sauces onto the bike in front of me at the gym today. She is very svelte and alluring, but I am worried about her outfit. Striped brown socks, Petit Bateau camisole, droopy cotton shorts. It kills me how these French girls will arrive in something perfect, like ballet flats and a trench coat, and then change into this. She looks like she is going to a twelve-year-old's slumber party.
Later, a man gets onto the treadmill in a polo shirt and shorts with...belt loops? He looks eerily like my father. Similar sartorial philosophies, for sportswear at
least -- untroubled by the advancements in moisture-wicking technology or elastic, but preferring to remain very 1970s tennis player. He's adorable. You just want to slip on some aviators and roller-skate with him to Simon and Garfunkel.
I am done working out. I enter the stretching room. You must say bonjour to everyone there. The French are way into the salutations. But the room feels like a sauna, which makes me wish they were a little more into air conditioning.
When I enter the locker room later, I see a sign saying traveaux (construction) from June 31--August 15. During which, there are "provisionale" showers. Umm, there they are. Simply freestanding boxes of glass, erected smack in the center of the room. It's like showering in a snow globe. Modesty? I am ruined.
"I can't believe this," I say, to no one in particular. "Oh, me neither!" says an older woman beside me. Then, she shrugs and throws off her towel. Gah! That was more than a little alarming.
I enter the shower. Apocalypse. Everyone can see me through this glass and I am going to die. Once an American prude, always an American prude! I think about the sad, crazy mustache man, so alone and misunderstood. I keep my bare backside pointed at the locker room, but focus on not brushing it against the glass.
Later, as I'm getting dressed, a girl who is entering the shower inquires as to the water. "Glaciale," I say. It is true; it was freezing. "Good for the circulation! Keeps you young!" the older lady butts in. Then she swings her gym bag onto her shoulder, flips open a packet of cigarettes and pulls out her lighter.
I say au revoir to each person at the front desk (see above: the importance of salutations) and head onto the sunny street in a Cacharel summery top and linen pants, feeling better. Fashion never hurts. I was hoping to get some sort of reaction from the gym staff, the first time they saw me in real clothes. In my fantasy, they would have been blinded by my unassuming sophistication. Maybe they wouldn't recognize me. No one said a word. At the bus stop, there's an advertisement for La Moustache. I feel more sympathy for this guy by the minute.
Mustaches are like babies, once you have them on the brain, you start seeing them everywhere. On the bus ride home, a man climbs on with...actually, he's just generally unshaven. But if you squint, he sort of looks like Johnny Depp, incidentally, one of the rare modern-day men who can naturally rock the mustache look. Depp is also (double incidentally!) a Parisian. Coincidence? As this doppelganger heads to the back of the bus, all I know is, I'm happy not to be wearing my gym clothes.