Beheadings & Bubbly: Why Bastille Day Rocks
~By Melissa Wiley, Families in the Loop
Holidays are not occasions I celebrate with ease. They demand too much ready conviviality and interrupt the normal flow of day-to-day life. Moreover, they require belief in some patent absurdities. Why, I ask you, is the Easter Bunny swiping eggs from neighboring hen houses? Why are all of Santa’s helpers suffering from some sort of growth disorder?
Even the Fourth of July asks me to accept the incredible: that there really was a time in our nation’s history when the most enlightened of men voluntarily wore wigs, false calves, and opaque pantyhose. And try as I may, I just can’t summon genuine enthusiasm for an egalitarian ideal that excluded everyone who wasn’t white, wealthy, and male.
So my zeal for Bastille Day, which marks the inception of the 1789 French Revolution, doesn’t really have to do with the holiday per se at all. It pertains to celebration itself on a vast, beret-wearing scale, one that expects nothing of me in return. I enjoy celebrating, just not when I’m required to do so, so foreign holidays really make the most sense for me. Plus, it wasn’t my bloodbath of a holiday to judge, and it afforded a glittering pretext for journeying to the famed City of Light.
Bastille Day is by all accounts an odd cause célèbre, particularly if you aren’t French. In essence, it glorifies the offing of aristocrats’ heads, which eventually included the impossibly pretty noggin of Marie Antoinette. Now who doesn’t love Marie A.? She was beautiful, privileged, fiercely imaginative, feted and beloved, not to mention highly fashion conscious, everything that every women’s magazine goads its readership into aspiring to be. But c’est la vie, Marie. I had a plane to catch.
Once we arrived in Paris, my husband and I ducked inside the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, strolled through the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens, hopped on a Ferris wheel overlooking the Eiffel Tower on three consecutive sunsets, and ambled along the Seine browsing Marxist book stores and flower stalls. In between, we feasted on chocolate crepes and rode the carousel like galloping ponies on Montmartre. We also drank champagne, lots and lots of champagne. If Marie was going out, we wanted to send her off with a bang.
Twice we brought a bottle of bubbly to our little yellow Left Bank room, where we popped the cork out our wall-length window and onto the quiet cobblestone street below, both of us in our nightclothes for a little afternoon l’amore. The first time, we ducked under the beds as soon as the cork blazed through the air. The pressurized ejaculation rang out like a shot, and a crowd quickly gathered beneath our window, when voluptuously nasal voices began interrogating the air that swam above our heads.
On the second round, feeling considerably looser under the spell of a solid four-day stretch breathing the Parisian oxygen, we nonchalantly released the cork out the window around 4 in the afternoon. This time we didn’t even bother to duck. Waving down in our barest essentials to the freshly bewildered assembly of shop keepers, we explained in our verbless pidgin English, “Champagne cork. No gun. No problem. Bonne journee.” Tipsy as we both were at the time, I still can’t think of a more compelling reason to celebrate Bastille Day.
The pic comes from Sip With Socialites.