No one was on the streets last night. Ségo and Sarko went face to face for the first and only time in the presidential debate on TF1. Those few who missed the debate didn't watch it because they were watching Manchester and Milan face off in the League of Champions. Hard to say which was more brutal between the two.
Today in the streets, presidential fliers were everywhere.
I stood outside the Odéon métro station this afternoon watching a young man in an "I heart Sarko" t-shirt handing out Sarkozy pamphlets. People either smiled and accepted one or hissed at him and went on their way. One guy passing by poured his full bottle of water over Sarko Guy's head as his girlfriend laughed and clapped. They walked away and a man in the crêpe stand next to him stepped out and sympathetically handed him some towels.
"It'll dry off," Sarko Guy said with a shrug and a smile.
A few minutes later, a Ségoist strolled up and handed out Ségo pamphlets. Then one if his buddies joined him. Soon, there were four friendly men handing out Ségo's final call to voters while this one guy rushed around to meet enough people to keep up with them. Not long after, walks up this man that looks like Tom Petty's head on Shaquille O'Neale's body (ignore the color difference, I'm going for the size factor). Bouncer type asks Sarko Guy for a few pamphlets and rips them up and throws them on the ground. Then he closed in on Sarko Guy like he was going to beat him up until one of the Ségoists stepped in and calmed him down.
Political opinions aside, I had to admit Sarko Guy stood his ground. You had to like the kid's moxy, so I took a pamphlet from him and went down into the station.
Irked from all the bad vibes outside, I sat in the métro opposite a young hippie type who squinted at me and the paper in my hand.
"Excusez moi," he said to me. "You're not really going to vote for Sarkozy, are you?"
"I can't vote in France." I braced myself for what was coming.
"Oh, well that's good, then. It's just, you believe all his conneries. You would vote for a dangerous man."
This is where I hit my limit.
I leaned forward and said, "Do you see me giving you a hard time for doing your hair like a grandmother? No. I see people in the métro and I stay out of their business."
It's not a habit of mine to insult the hairstyles of total strangers in the métro. Though it was true that he did his hair in a bun and looked like the cartoon on a box of Mother's Cookies. Usually, I'm overly polite. It's just that this guy pushed the wrong button at the wrong time. It takes me back to crossing the campus of my San Francisco university where political activism is as fashionable as it is about a cause. I couldn't get to class without someone with a barbel through their nose yelling in my face about the evils of big business, local media, WASPS and how I was contributing to it by reading the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle! Imagine if I'd been reading the National Review? Ironic how people yelling about peace can't seem to leave people in it.
Which takes me back to this guy in the métro. The straw that broke the camel's back.
After I snapped at him, he shrugged and leaned back. Between being caught off guard and fueled up, my French came out all floundered though and I can't even tell you if the guy understood me or not. As I was stepping off the métro, I heard an old man say, "What'd she say about her grandmother?"
Then I got on the last train to get home. After I found a seat, a middle aged woman sat across from me and immediately started shaking her head. I saw this out of the corner of my eye. I also saw the girl next to me watching her shake her head and following her gaze to me. The woman may have had a nervous disorder. There was a lady with a nervous disorder in a building where I used to work and I always thought she was shaking her head at me until the guard explained her condition. In any case, I wasn't looking to get in another train confrontation so I kept my eyes on my i-pod and put on Django Reinhardt's version of La Marseillaise. That always puts me in a nice mood.
We'll know who the new president is Sunday night. Both parties think they've won the debate. It's going to be a close one. Until then, while taking public transport, I'd rather just say "Je ne parle pas français."