Picture, if you will, the look on my face one day about a week or so ago, when I showed up on a corner near a little park to meet a man I thought was the journalist from M6, a French TV station that wanted an interview about No Love Locks (we have over 5200 signatures now, by the way!) The reason I say "picture the look on my face" is that I arrived there assuming this guy, standing next to his motorcycle, was there to interview me.
That is, until he handed me a spare helmet. And gestured towards the moto.
I thought for a moment my brain had just had some sort of stroke or seizure, because SURELY he did not mean that I was supposed to get ON that contraption and GO somewhere for this interview? He MUST be joking. Please, God, let him be joking.
Because. I. Do. Not. Ride. Motorcycles. EVER.
No, he was serious. They were waiting for me with a camera on the bridge. And thus, I realized that I had been screwed over again by my own inability to accurately comprehend a conversation in French on the telephone. The producer who had begged me for this interview with absolutely zero notice had sent not a journalist, but a moto-chauffeur. And if I wanted to get the interview for our campaign, I would have to do something I swore I would never do, ESPECIALLY in Paris: ride a motorcycle.
Five minutes later, more terrified than I can remember being in a very long time, I was sitting behind the chauffeur with my purse shut away in the little cargo box behind me, trying not to hug this total stranger inappropriately in my fear. I also hoped I wouldn't topple us over going around the curves by panicking and overcorrecting my balance. I though he would take the side streets from where we started in the 15th arrondissement to the Pont des Arts, but instead he took us into heavy traffic on one of the riverside roadways... the same one where poor Princess Diana met her untimely fate (as a result of paparrazi on motorcycles). All I could think of was: "Keep your damn kness and elbows IN or you're going to lose one of them when you clip the rearview mirror of that bus!" I couldn't believe how we got within centimeters of other cars. I've ridden the bus and ridden in taxis and often marveled at the daredevil way the moto drivers weave in and out of traffic, usually making their own lanes. And here I was ON one of those things doing exactly that... well, as a passenger.
I wished I could have relaxed more and enjoyed the trip because it was like a mini tour of the prettiest parts of Paris. We passed the Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde, Invalides, the Pont Neuf. But none of that mattered because I was afraid to look anywhere other than straight ahead so that I could brace myself if I saw disaster coming. I hoped the driver didn't hear the whimpering in my throat. At least he was kind enough to give me a helmet with a radio transmitter inside so I could listen to some music while I prayed for my life to be spared long enough to tell Georges this story.
Finally we got to the bridge. I pulled off the helmet and hoped like hell I didn't have "helmet hair" for this on-camera interview. The interview itself lasted 10 minutes. Just as we finished, I was ambushed by yet another news crew, this one from France 2, who had apparently sent me a message that morning also asking for an interview. So I did one more quick blah-blah-blah and then raced back to the waiting motorcycle so I could get back to where I was supposed to be.
Of all the strange things that have happened in the past couple of months since my friend and I started No Love Locks, THIS by far has topped them all. When I got home and related the tale to Georges, he laughed so hard he fell over on the bed! Even my mother laughed hard, imagining her oldest child being hijacked by a bunch of foreign journalists and whisked away on two wheels across Paris.
The next time I hear a producer mention the world "moto" during a phone conversation, my only response will be "NON!" I wish I could be the sort of person who would be comfortable on even, say, a little Vespa scooter, because really it is the best way to get around Paris. But part of being bold is knowing your limits... and I think this is one of mine.
Well, if nothing else, I have something to check off my bucket list. Not that this was ON my bucket list to begin with...