It is the beginning of another month and thus time for another installment of the Ohmygod saga (the previous installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Five ‘B’, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight–or you can check them out in the menu up top). As you will recall, I used to be a cycling tour guide in Europe for several years. Through that job (yes, it is a bit difficult to call it a ‘job’) I met countless interesting people and have a few compelling stories to tell, but most of them pale to the story of Ohmygod, one of the clients that I had for two weeks. Some may wonder about the moniker, but the name chose itself really; it is what I uttered repeatedly during just about every interaction with him.
In the previous installment, we were in the hotel dining room in Chenonceaux, where Ohmygod had just indirectly caused the spilling of several glasses of wine as well as directly causing an ice bucket careening to the floor. And we had yet to order our meals.
The rest of dinner proved to be far less eventful. I ordered the rabbit which was prepared with a very nice mushroom sauce and served with a wonderful side of fresh carrots (which I thought was a bit cruel and wondered if the rabbit once intended to eat the same carrots himself). Much to my amazement, Ohmygod ordered the same dish, which was more than a bit surprising. First, most North Americans have an aversion to eating rabbit for some reason that is probably worth exploring. Second, while many clients on my trips were hesitant to speak French for fear of butchering the language (and therefore would order something that had already been said at the table) this was certainly not the case with Ohmygod. Thus far, he never passed up an opportunity to converse with the locals in “French” since, after all, he was “fluent” (nothing could be further from the truth, but he was convinced that his two years of studying French in junior high school some thirty odd years earlier was sufficient to label himself “fluent”).
Last, up until that point he had eschewed every single tidbit of advice or directive I had given him (with the notable exception of demanding that he shower before dinner). For a brief moment I arrogantly theorized that I was finally getting through to him and that he might be coming around. I briefly drifted off and recalled the François Truffaut film L’Enfant Sauvage where a feral boy is found in the countryside and is gradually socialized by a determined doctor.
I was jolted from this reverie when the meal arrived.
As the waiter was explaining (in French) that the plates were very hot, Ohmygod, who apparently could not wait another moment to start stuffing his cavernous pie hole, grabs the plate from the waiter. He immediately shrieks in pain and drops the plate to the table, instantly grabbing his glass of water which he poured onto his smoldering fingers. He continued to wail after dumping his entire glass of water all over himself and the floor as he surveyed the entire room looking for another remedy to alleviate his seemingly agonizing pain. As he began to rise from his seat I envisioned yet another disaster of epic proportions. Somewhat instinctively, I quickly and forcibly placed my hand on his shoulder, momentarily denying his freedom. As he shot me a glance of combined disbelief and distress, I reached for the ice bucket (which had been repositioned next to my seat after the previous debacle), and grabbed several cubes with my napkin. As I turned to hand the napkin to Ohmygod, he had already started eating with his unharmed hand—he had picked the sauce covered rabbit up without the use of any of the provided utensils and was holding it to his face as if he were trying to smother himself.
For the rest of the meal, I tried really hard to ignore him and did my very best to get completely schnockered. We started off with a wonderful Sancerre from just a few miles away, followed by a series of chenin blancs from right up the road in Vouvray and literally right around the corner in Chenonceaux.
We had decided earlier in the day to head to the Sound and Light show at the Château, so we were rushing a bit at the end of the meal to not be late for the start. As is custom in many parts of Europe, I was soaking up the remaining sauce with a piece of bread (I always feel a bit odd doing this since it seems a bit vulgar, but I see it done all the time in even the best restaurants so I am trying to get over it) when I glanced over to Ohmygod. He was doing the same.
With his fingers.
I passed him the bread basket, but he waved it off with a grunt. I tried again, same response. Realizing that subtlety is not his strong suit, I said “You know, you really should use some bread to do that.”
He looked at me with a puzzled, somewhat hurt and confused glance and muttered “I don’t like bread.” I realized that I was not likely to “win” this battle so I just told him that we needed to go right away to get to the show. After rising from the table, I saw that Ohmygod had taken one more swipe at the sauce, this time with all four fingers at once. As he rose from the table, he stuffed his whole hand into his mouth and slurped off the remaining sauce. He paused for a moment.
We arrived at the castle just in time for the start of the show. The show consisted of a narrative of the history of the Château (in French), accompanied by a rather artistic light show cast upon the façade and grounds. After translating a bit for Grumpy and Mr. Personality, I turned around and Ohmygod was not there. I was presented with the ultimate moral dilemma: Ohmygod was an adult and he technically was on his own, but I knew that he could not survive out there in the wild. On the other hand, my life would be infinitely easier if I just “let it go.”
After a few moments trying to convince myself that I was blissfully happy with the recent development, I decided that I needed to go and look for him; it would be easier than dealing with the police, the morgue, or the Societe de la defense des animaux (the French version of the ASPCA) in the middle of the night. Luckily (I guess), I didn’t have to look all that far. He had found some other Canadians just a few steps away and they were sitting around drinking beer (way to perpetuate the stereotype, eh?).
As I approached, I noticed he was eating something which looked a lot like bread. I was more than a little steamed and decided to confront him about it.
“I thought you didn’t like bread!”
“It isn’t bread, it’s a croissant.”
Realizing that trying to point out the idiocy of the statement would only be met with a blank stare, I took another approach: “Where did you get a croissant at this hour?’
“I just found it in my jersey pocket.”
“I think it might be from yesterday.”