Photo by Jamie Moncrief/Copyright

Monday, May 03, 2010

an unromantic in paris

Everything they say about the romance of Paris is true. The city’s magic even works on the decidedly unromantic, including my husband.

Now John is one of the best husbands a woman could ever hope to have. He’s intelligent, honest, ethical, fiercely protective, funny, sweet – my best friend for nearly thirty years and counting. But romantic? Not so much. He doesn’t dance; can’t make him. The one time I received flowers with his name on the card, I discovered later that his mother sent them. If he ever comments on what I’m wearing I might have a heart attack. As it hasn’t happened in thirty years, though, I’m probably safe.

But even John, it seems, is not immune to the romance of Paris.

Especially at night, when the monuments glow, Paris is utterly seductive. So despite the early spring chill, we fell into taking long strolls after dinner. Because it’s so beautiful and only a block from the hotel where we stayed, those strolls always led to the Louvre. And each night, in the acoustically perfect outdoor passageways that cut through the palace, we would encounter one of two musicians: a fiercely intense and gifted cellist, or a playful but equally talented classical saxophonist.

On our last walk through the Louvre the saxophonist was in residence. We stopped to listen for a while – the only pedestrians anywhere in sight due to the cold – and he seemed to revel in having an audience. Because we’d enjoyed his performances all week, John dropped a handful of Euros into the musician’s case and we strolled away, holding hands.

That’s when the magic happened. The saxophonist interrupted the classical piece he was performing – stopped in the middle of a complex run, no less – and began to play La Vie en Rose, the beautiful ballad that is virtually the city’s theme song. Never in all the times we’d seen people drop money into his case had he changed his tune, let alone play a pop song. It stopped us in our tracks. We stared at each other, dumbfounded.

And then the magic became a miracle. John wrapped his arms around me and, humming the tune into my hair, began to sway. We were dancing. In the Louvre. To our own private performance of La Vie en Rose.

In that moment I thanked my lucky stars for my unromantic husband. If he did this sort of thing all the time it wouldn’t have been special. It wouldn’t have been magic. He’d waited thirty years for this moment, and when it came, he made it perfect. And isn’t that the essence of true romance?