Forget Paris
Written By: Gringo

For no other reason that I was chatting to Joe about family holidays (chatting over the Internet! Oh Jesus! The shame!) I decided to write up the story of what happened when I went on holiday with my parents and one of my two brothers to Paris. That's in France for all you dumb Yankee hicks that never leave the good old United States of America.

Anyway, we only took one of my brothers because the other said something like "You are all screwy! Stop saying I am related to you! GET OUT MY HOUSE!" and so we left him alone to play with his toy soldiers and things. Our trip was back in the day when Disneyland Paris had just opened and I was an energetic teenager yet to discover the joys of Internet porn or yet to draw the first whisker on Sheriff Gringo's moustache.

Instead, I was playing computer games on my NES and combining my Ghostbusters action figures with the ones from Batman in some weird crossover movie that premiered in my brain. And that's as close to 80's nostalgia shite as you'll get on this site. Anyway, the year was 1990 or 1991 or thereabouts and my parents had deduced that going to Paris was the way forward for success.

As I wasn't legally or financially in a position to either refuse to go or instead go on my own holiday, cruising for sex, I had to go along and dutifully packed my elasticized-waist gray tracksuit trousers and Indiana Jones t-shirt into my fluorescent-yellow backpack. Sadly, I'm not making any of this up. This was just five or six years after I used to take my Garfield suitcase on holiday with me, despite the fact it was about three inches big and had clouds painted all over it. Hell, at the time I was even taking my ALF doll on holidays with me and getting worried when customs wanted to scan his face.

I guess they thought I might have been a 30-something midget with a baby face trying to smuggle heroin overseas under the cover of a sarcastic alien the colour of poop. But on this Parisian holiday, it was just tight black trousers and shirts with clown faces on them. I'd reached a whole new level of style! We drove down to Dover (right by the white cliffs, apparently) and got on some ferry. Not that I drove, because it'd be a bit stupid to be a teenager at the early end of the 13-19 scale behind the wheel of a car on a British motorway. My parents are smarter than that.

So we were on a ferry, sailing for France. Joy indeed. I don't know if anyone reading this has ever been on a cross-Channel ferry, but they're the most boring things in the world. They don't last long enough for you to need a cabin where you can go to sleep, and they're not short enough to mean you don't get bored easily. The three other members of my family decided lunch and a sit down would be a good way to pass the time. I thought better and went off to explore the ferry like the friendless joker I was.

I went down to where all the cars were parked in the bowels of the ship and was told by some officious jerk that exploring that area wasn't allowed. So I went out on deck, where it was raining. The wind was rather strong, and I wasted two happy minutes leaning over the railings, chancing the fact that if I slipped, I'd be swept out to sea and start my own country on some desolate isle. Because I didn't have a baseball to take with me, I passed on that idea and went back inside and joined in the sitting theme. Big fun.

After a while, and some driving once we docked at Calais, it was on to Paris. I'd just like to say that the drivers in that city were the most annoying, impatient fucks I'd ever seen back then, and it's safe bet they still are today. Once my dad had successfully ruined Anglo-French relations in his own special way (winding down the window and telling a passing Parisian motorist to fuck himself) we got to the hotel, which had a piano in the lobby.

Sure, not normally a crucial factor, but I had just started piano lessons and for some reason thought I was the next Liberace, albeit without the plastic surgery and gay sex. I played the only tune I knew - a very, very basic version of Yesterday - and tried not to notice the general lack of interest everyone showed. Sadly, I didn't realise the dandy piano recorded what was played and in seconds I heard the tuneless drivel I'd just mashed out. I hid in my room for the rest of that first day.

When the morning came, my parents dragged my brother and me around the city, looking at various sites and doing the obligatory shopping. I wasn't really fussed and was just looking forward to the big surprise - the moment mum and dad would say "Now let's go to Disneyland!" Guess what? If that was the big surprise, it's a gigantic surprise present day, because it's still not been said to me. No theme park for young Gringo. Oh no! Instead we got yet more shopping and trailing round the city.

Paris is nice and all, but it's just another big city with unique architecture. When you're a surly teenager there is nothing about buildings or shops or strange French people that is remotely interesting, and it's safe to say I spent most of the holiday bored out of my mind. It was nice to spend time with parents, who I've always got on well with, the rest of the city just plain sucked ass. We only spent a couple of days there - my memory of the trip's fading, but I think it was just a weekend break - so we didn't really achieve a lot in the way of seeing major shows or exhibitions. We went through that city quicker than the Griswolds, but with funnier jokes.

There was just one highlight of the holiday, and it's only taken more than 1,000 words to get round to. On the last night, my dad and I decided to go and see if the hotel had a swimming pool. Turns out no, it didn't, because the owners were French. It did have a sauna and jacuzzi, but that was it. So dad and I went down to the place where these facilities were on offer and found we were the only ones in there.

While I was in the sauna, counting my rolls of puppy fat, he was in the jacuzzi, probably having a flash to the future that his son would create this website and letting a solitary tear trickle down his face. Once I'd finished in the sauna, he went in there (was he trying to say something?) and I went in the jacuzzi. All well and good, except when he came out the sauna he decided to indulge in a spot of childishness.

He got as many free bubble bath bottles as he could find and emptied them into the very powerful jacuzzi I was ensconced in. Almost instantly, huge bubbles started to mass and engulf me. I got out of the water before I started spluttering, and joined in the laughter with my dad as I watched the bubbles grow so large they encased not only the jacuzzi but most of the room it was in. And showed no signs of stopping.

We were giggling insanely at this point, unaware of the po-faced family of four that had just come into the room. They looked at us giggling and then dad and I decided to make a run for it. He was out of sight before I was, and that's when I heard a huge thud. I got to the top of the ten-or-so stairs only to find my dad slumped in a heap at the bottom of them. The best thing? He was still laughing, in fact so much that he was crying, and hobbled off into the distance.

Sadly, that was the only real highlight of the entire short holiday, and before I knew it we were sailing back to Britain. We never did find out if that family survived the bubble attack.

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