Friday, January 13, 2012

Foam Quest 2012

It's not my fault that I've neglected the blog for the past week.  The fault lies squarely with Les Soldes.  That's right, it is sale season here in Paris. Twice a year, every store has a huge sale - once in winter, again in summer.  In fact, the term "Soldes" (which means "sales") can only legally be used during these two periods of the year.  We arrived just after the summer Soldes ended so I have been more than intrigued as we waited for January 11 to arrive.

But I'm getting ahead of myself as good stuff happened even before the sales.  Baby Oil turned one!  And as his birthday present to himself and to us, he got really, really sick the night before his birthday.  I even had to cancel his birthday party.  Never fear, he still had cake.  And I know there is all of this mumbo jumbo about what kind of cake you are supposed to feed your kid (when can you introduce chocolate? should it be a "healthy" cake?).  All I wanted for Baby Oil's birthday was a classic photo of him covered in chocolate cake.  Mission accomplished.

My step-mom came to Paris to celebrate the big first birthday (excellent timing as she was here to help take care of sick baby and sick mommy).  After a day of sitting on our worlds-most-uncomfortable-sofa-that-came-with-our-furnished apartment, I told her my idea of trying to restuff the cushions.  And thus, Foam Quest 2012 was born.

It went a little something like this.  We went to the neighborhood with all the fabric stores, and at the first store, used a lot of pantomime and a few words to explain what we wanted.  Finally we were told that they didn't sell sofa cushion stuffing, but we should be able to find another store on the street that did.  At each successive store, we figured out more words that were required until we had mastered what we needed - Nous cherchons le mousse pour le coussin, le mousse en bloque?  (We're looking for cushion foam, specifically solid foam?).  And at each store, the employee would point us further down the street. Then around the corner.  After the third or fourth store, we asked each other whether the required answer to "Where is the foam store?" is "straight and right".  Until we finally found a store simply called "Mousse". 
Foam. At the foam store. It's all foam.

I never before even realized there would be a store that sold nothing but foam. The foam guy was very friendly and after we drew him a picture of a couch with cushions, the language barrier was no longer an issue.  I should also point out that since we don't have measuring tape, we measured the dimensions with a string, then marked the string with a pen. They looked at us like we were a little crazy when my step-mom whipped out this string when they asked for the dimensions. I also never knew that foam is expensive!  Our new coach cushions cost over 100 euros, but it so worth it to have a couch that you actually want to sit on. I am thinking right now that either a) I'm not sure I did Foam Quest 2012 justice in this re-telling or b) most regular people (I'm now assuming that you, dear reader, are a "regular person") do not find this story as exciting as I do. It was pretty awesome.
Foam guy cutting our foam.

But as I mentioned at the start of this post, my delinquency is telling the world about the wonders of Foam Quest 2012 is all because of the Soldes.  On Wednesday morning, Baby Oil and I went down to Printemps.  Mistake #1 - do NOT take baby with you to go shopping, least of all on the first day of the sale!  Printemps was a zoo, with huge lines at all of the designer sections and pretty much all of the cash registers as well.
The blurry yellow signs are actually huge and bright and pretty cool. They say "SOLDES". And a loud voice comes on every few minutes in Printemps to announce "Soldes Supremes!".
My take on the sales is that 50% of crazy expensive stuff is still expensive, but not crazily so. And it is 50% off!  Of course, the item that is 50% off (as opposed to 30%, or 40%, or only a measly 20%) is probably not really want you want.  But if you are willing to do anything for Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Chloe, Paule Ka, etc at a discount, then its worth braving what seemed like a significant portion of the population of Asia and a huge amount of Russian tourists.

At one point, I picked up a pair of Jimmy Choo's and thought, 50% off 230 euros isn't bad!  And then I realized - 230 euros was the after sale price.  Not my ballpark.  We did pick up a few gifts for Baby Oil's first first cousin who will be born in March and the salespeople in the children's section were relatively patient with us when Baby Oil pulled an entire row of socks off the wall, and then tried to eat the labels.

Mistake #2 was heading across the street to C&A. This is the only store where I actually buy clothes for Baby Oil because it is actually fairly inexpensive.  So 50% off of cheap clothes is actually really cheap.  Which is clearly what the heavily immigrant crowds (think many African women dressed in their typical bright colors, with small children attached to them with more brightly-colored cloths) also realized.  Every person in line had at least 15-20 items. Stubbornly, I waited to buy the three things I found.  Baby Oil was not impressed.  

And just when I thought I could not learn more about Paris in a given week, I discovered the smoosi.  Our local grocery store now sells a ready-made smoothie drink (ground-breaking, I know) called "Smoothie".  Seems straight forward, no?  For those French unfamiliar with smoothies, Monoprix has kindly explained on the labeled that you should pronounce this word "Smoosi."  Happy birthday Baby Oil - I raise my smoosi to you!