Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Last Trip to Versailles

This weekend I went on my last trip to Versailles.  I say "my last trip" because almost no incentive in the world could entice me to go to Versailles again.

It is not the palace's fault.  It's not the town's fault, and definitely not my family's fault.  It was just the universe converging in an annoying - for lack of a better word - way.

My family (dad, stepmom, and three brothers, who you may recall from our 2011 adventures in Normandy) is in town to spend time with Mademoiselle, and celebrate the Passover holiday.  So we went to Versailles for the day since my brothers had never been.

First clue that I had upset the universe in some way was the woman who yelled at me on the train.  We sat down in a virtually empty car to travel from the Gare St Lazare in Paris to Versailles.  I was saying something to one of my brothers across the aisle and, sure, I have a loud voice.  The French woman who had boarded after us, and chosen to sit directly behind us despite the numerous empty seats, said rudely that I was being too loud.

My first thought was, "I'm not in a library, am I?  No, I'm on a train. An empty train."  But the woman continued to berate me - though to be honest, I understand about 30% of what she said - and finally I said, in French, "You could just go sit somewhere else."  Which cause her to exclaim something I did not at all understand - in fact, a word I had never before heard but whose meaning I think all of us could guess.

This was a big outing with Mademoiselle, especially as Mr. Oil was staying behind to work, but as an experienced mom, I was fully prepared.  Diapers, burp cloths, a spare outfit, bottles for the baby; diapers, snacks, water bottle for Baby Oil.  You name it, I had it.

But about five minutes after we entered the palace, I realized the Baby Oil's water bottle had leaked all over my bag, completely soaking the burp cloths, spare outfit, several diapers, paper towels, and tissues.  Awesome.  While trying to dry out my bag in the corner, Baby Oil spied the Goldfish crackers I had brought as a snack and insisted on eating them throughout the palace tour.  Needless to say, you are not allowed to eat in the palace of Versailles.  But every time we tried to pry the crackers away, screaming ensued.  Instead, I made sure to place myself between the munching toddler and any guards we saw.

Finally we sat down to lunch in one of the garden restaurants.  It was a medium-chilly day, the kind where you can sit comfortably as long as you keep your jacket on.  My stepmom was holding Mademoiselle when wham! - baby poop explosion.

Which is why I had brought the spare outfit.  Oh, right, but now it was soaking wet.  As a result, we had to strip my poor two-month-old baby naked in about 45 degree weather, wipe her clean, wrap her in a t-shirt and a fleece jacket, and try to get her to stop screaming her traumatized little head off.  In the middle of lunch.

And here's where my day got really awesome.

If you have had a baby, or spent time caring for one, you know that when the baby is screaming, you start babbling to try to calm her down.  Most of the time, you couldn't pay me to tell you what I am actually saying. It's a stream-of-consciousness-thing designed to soothe the little one with varied success.  On the empty table behind us, I was attempting to get Mademoiselle into the Ergobaby carrier both for warmth and comfort.  While doing this, I was engaged in the aforementioned babbling.

Suddenly, an American woman about my age sitting a few tables down looked over and said rudely, "Excuse me, but some of us are trying to eat lunch here."

Thinking she misunderstood what I was doing, I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not changing a diaper or anything, I'm just trying to get her in this carrier."

She replied, "Well, you are announcing to all of us that your baby pooped through her clothes while we are trying to eat."

Taken aback at this - since a) I had no idea what I had been saying and b) is this girl for real? - I replied, "Well, maybe one day you will have a baby and then you'll understand."

Now, I realize this is not a terribly politically correct thing to say.  It's patronizing and makes all sorts of assumptions, but to be honest, the baby was still screaming and I really didn't understand why this woman was acting like a total b*tch.

She responds, "Actually, I am a child psychologist."

Apparently, this is meant to imply that she does understand.  And therefore, that she is in fact simply a b*tch.  (Because if I replace the letter "i" with an asterisk, I am definitely not using profanity.)

My come-back?  "Well, then it's too bad you don't know how to be nice to adults."

And then I exited the restaurant as fast as possible.  I'm not known for my confrontational abilities.

Mademoiselle finally calmed down and slept the rest of the afternoon.  Baby Oil actually had a great time exploring the grounds of Versailles, and we all made it back to Paris in one piece.  Nonetheless, between the two different verbal attacks, the wet bag, and the poop disaster, that was my last trip to Versailles if I have any say about it!