So let me give you a mental image: it’s just after midnight and I’m walking through the Marais with my Swedish friend. If you don’t know Paris, the best way to describe the Marais is a young, Jewish, gay neighbourhood, home to the Centre Pompidou modern art museum. We’ve just left a bar, but the night is still young and so are we. We pass an open window four stories up where we can see people dancing to loud music. That’s the type of party I always want to go to in Paris, to make me feel like I’m not just skimming the surface of living here. Every city has an infinite number of worlds inside it that most tourists never see. I’m constantly afraid that I’m not plunging through the surface, and so standing on the street below, I look up and imagine…what would happen if I crashed that party?
Skip ahead an hour and the bar we’re at is closing. It’s now 1:30, we’re walking back the way we came, and the party is still spilling out these windows. Knowing that most bars would be closed (and acting off the extra drink we’d each just had), we start waving at these Frenchies hanging out the window. Salut! C’est quoi le code pour entrer? For some crazy reason, a guy shouts down to me the code to open the building’s door. Too bad I misunderstand the seven for a six and can’t crack the code. Just when we’re about to give up on entering the party (and me on my childhood dream of becoming a spy who can break any code), a couple guys come to enter the building…and we slip in the door behind them.
Making casual French small talk on the staircase – as is completely normal when crashing a party – I ask which floor they’re headed to. Le quatrième?! Nous aussi! Je suis une amie de Pierre. (There’s always a Pierre. Oddly though, this time the guy didn’t know a Pierre.) “Thomas m’a invité, mais il n’est pas là. Il est avec sa meuf,” he told me. Ugh, actually so annoying how Thomas is always with his gal when we wanna party.
So we enter the apartment, and basically this is one of the funniest situations I’ve ever found myself in. Not only am I an American in a room full of French people, but I’m also easily the youngest person there. The best part is that no one even notices my friend and I are out of place. I simply smiled and pretended that I knew everyone. Acting completely natural, everyone just assumes you actually do fit in naturally. Somehow we spend the next two hours dancing with really drunk people, try to converse in French despite the level of noise in the apartment, and whenever someone asks who we know at the party, I just respond, “Je suis une amie de Thomas, mais ugh il est où? Toujours avec sa meuf!”
Soon before we leave, I start talking to someone, saying “Salut! Ça va? Ça fait longtemps!” acting as if he was an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. It turns out he is the guy who had been hanging out the window trying to give us the code to enter! Even better, it turns out he is Thomas! Of course we thank him for his hospitality before we leave; I might be crazy, but at least I remember my manners!