True story: Recently–while driving well within the speed limit–I was waved over to the curb by a crowd of Parisian police officers: four men, one woman.
"Bonjour, madame," says the leader of the group, with a little salute.
"Bonjour, monsieur." (I almost say "officer, sir"–in English. I get nervous in situations like this. My husband is convinced I have a nefarious past, but I think it's uniforms. Some women are attracted to them; I get twitchy.)
"Turn off your engine." I turn it off.
"May I please have your license, your car registration certificate and the copy of your proof of insurance."
"Oui, bien sûr." Mind you, I still don't know why they've pulled me over. And I'm afraid to ask.
At this point the entire herd is peering into the car as I turn to reach onto the back seat to retrieve my purse.
Suddenly my throat begins to close up, my heart rate shoots skyward, and my primal fear of authority figures in uniform rises to overwhelm me. I'm realizing that I forgot to put the pertinent documents in my bag.
At this precise moment my husband turns to me and says with appalling calm, "It doesn't really matter anymore why they stopped you–you've already got three tickets. They might make you leave the car right here."
Instead of hitting him with one of the bags, I look up at my official audience, take a deep breath and launch into an explanation.
"Yesterday I was wearing my French blue pea coat [Yves St. Laurent, but I didn't elaborate on labels] and carrying my Lancel bucket bag, which is a lovely mauve-y blue and the perfect pop of color for the jacket." I try on a sincere smile.
My husband is starting to get agitated. I ignore him.
"Today, as you can see, I'm wearing my red pea coat (also YSL, but once again I didn't go there) and obviously my blue Lancel bag doesn't go with it, so I changed to my black sac Chanel and in the transition I forgot to transfer all of the contents."
My husband, wild-eyed, says to me, in English: "Now you're going to have five tickets, they're going to think you're mocking them." I ignore him.
Then I look up at the police and say: "I swear this is true."
Which it was. And they let me go (!).
Moral of the story: One can never over-emphasize the importance of proper accessorizing.
Tish Jett is an American fashonista living in Paris. She blogs at "A Femme d'Un Certain Age."
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