the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Imaginary Paris on $5000 a Day

I love imaginary Paris. I love the cafes, the art, the fashion, but mostly I thrive here because this is the famed city of French existentialism and moral relativism. I am comfortable here using the $5000 that I found in that imaginary wallet yesterday. Sure, I COULD have returned the wallet to the owner, but what’s going to happen to me now that I didn’t? Will God strike me down? Of course not. Not in a city where God is dead.

Imaginary Paris is at its finest in the spring. The flowers are blooming and the scent of perfume is the air. And the women? Oh, the women. I was in an imaginary tiny bakery in the 18th arrondissement just below Montmartre when I met Juliette. She had just finishing doing a fashion shoot for Paris Vogue across the street and was now enjoying a quick espresso. I immediately knew my reason for coming to Paris. I had to know this woman.

“Bonjour.” I said flirtatiously, deciding to open the conversation with a sure-shot French ice-breaker. “Excuse-moi, j’ai perdu mon numero de telephone. Est-ce que je peux emprunter le tien?” (Excuse me, I seem to have lost my phone number. Could I borrow yours?)

She smiled, wooed by my charm and wit. We chatted, at times in English, at times in French. We had some Parisian friends in common, including Elisabeth of La Coquette, Lauren of Maitress, and Tara of Paris Parfait. I made some jokes at the expensive of American culture and she laughed, her eyes twinkling. I offered her one of my Gitanes Brunes, and we enjoyed a smoke together. There was something very sexy about the way she smoked a cigarette. Like only a French woman could do.

I love imaginary Paris. Of course, there were some changes since the last time I was here. American chain stores had moved in. There was Starbucks. And Kentucky Fried Chicken. I even found a CVS Pharmacy right in Paris! I’m not a superstitious man, but I was half-expecting something bad to happen to me for using that $5000 dollars on my trip. But not in Paris. Nothing could destroy the magic of the City of Lights. In Paris, I was able to sit across from a beautiful model wearing a strapless Dior dress while dining at Le Grand Véfour, a restaurant nestled under the arches of the Palais Royal, overlooking a beautiful little park, at a romantic table once occupied by Colette and Victor Hugo and Jean Cocteau.

After dinner, I brought Juliette to my hotel room. She stood in front of me as I sat in bed. She danced for me a bit, swaying to a Carla Bruni song, then let her dress gently fall off her body. I felt a tinge of anxiety. Always neurotic and pessimistic, I figured this was the moment of bad karma. Here I would be with the most beautiful woman I’d ever met and because of my guilt over the $5000, I wouldn’t be able to get it up. But clearly this doomsday scenario didn’t occur. She looked at me and smiled. She slid next to me, purring.

“Avez-vous un préservatif?” (Do you have a condom?) she asked.

“Oui, I do.” I answered.

Luckily, before dinner, I slipped into that Parisian CVS Pharmacy and bought les condoms!

Within moments, Juliette and I were making passionate love. All I could hear was her heavy breathing and the pounding of the bed against the wall.

Or at least I thought it was the pounding of the bed against the wall.

In reality, it was the Paris police breaking down the door to my hotel room and an Interpol SWAT team smashing through the window. Apparently, when I bought the condoms at CVS Pharmacy, I used the CVS ExtraCare frequent shopper card from my wallet – but it wasn’t my card! It was the CVS card of Mr. Craig Tellerson of Studio City, CA, who had lost his wallet and $5000 cash while riding his bicycle in Redondo Beach.

“Fraud is a federal offense in France,” said the Parisian police officer.

Today, I am blogging from Devil’s Island in French Guiana, the first day of my 300 year prison sentence. On arrival, we greeted by the warden who said, “Welcome to the penal colony at Devil’s Island, whose prisoners you are, and from which there is no escape.”

While I enjoyed my date with the French model, this certainly was one expensive bill to pay. Take it from me, if you find a lost wallet, return it to the rightful owner. God is alive… and vengeful. C’est la vie!

Two years ago on Citizen of the Month: Clock and Crow


  1. Jeannette

    dear citizen of the month,
    does god care if i eat two pieces of tiramisu before dinner?
    what if I skipped lunch?
    looking foward to your insight,

  2. Elisabeth

    You must have met my niece’s husband, Lionel, when you got to French Guiana – in fact, I bet he’s the gendarme who escorted you to your prison cell. He is a French gendarme, and was on assignment there for the first few months of this year.

    You need to brush up on your French, Neil, so that, next time, you can spice up your story with more French idioms. I also think that, these days, Juliette might have danced and stripped to a Carla Bruni song.

  3. Neil

    Yeah, sorry Elisabeth. Took Spanish in school. I could have found some French phrases on Google, but I thought that was cheating. I should have consulted you beforehand. The Edith Piaf reference is probably old. Next imaginary trip!

  4. V-Grrrl

    Neil, I would have thought the French would have sent you to a *penile* colony for a condom buying offense.

    I’ll come visit and smuggle you some cigarettes.

  5. Neil

    V-Grrl — Have you always been so funny?

    Elisabeth — I took your suggestions and changed the singer and added some “sophisticated” French pick-up line I found on some cheesy site for pick-up lines to use on European women to give the post some more authentic flavor.

  6. Danny

    “Avez-vous un préservatif?”

    You should use the French word for condom in your fantasy since it always makes Americans laugh.

  7. Neil

    Danny – perfect. I have to give you and Elisabeth co-writing credit on this one!

  8. Neil

    This is the best way of writing a blog post. Just adding in reader suggestions to make it better. Was CVS Pharmacy a good choice for the laugh? Are there CVS Pharmacies all across the country? Would Walgreen’s have been a better choice?

  9. Miss Britt

    That’s what you get for banging the skinny broad.

  10. Finn

    Did you at least get to, um… finish?

    And LOL at Britt!

  11. pam

    Now, again, only with the god being a French god. A French god wouldn’t end the story this way.

  12. natalie

    i can’t even imagine how this story can be any better. seriously. cracks me up. you, my man, have such an imagination. imaginary turkey…what’s it like? i’m sure it is way better than the real thing!

  13. Annie

    What miss britt said :-).

  14. sizzle

    Once a guy I was dating planned a pretend French date where he made and posted signs in French along our path, got French food from a local restaurant, bought a disposable camera, etc. It was the most ingenious and adorable date ever.

  15. Lynda

    Those French police are rather tough. But then again, you never said if you found the wallet on French soil. However, since it was Mr. Tellerson of Studio City, I am thinking that maybe they should have expediated you back to the U.S.A.

  16. miguelina

    You had me at “strapless Dior dress.” And “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

  17. Jane

    Ah, but Paris is a progressive city, Neil. The imaginary prison would be co-ed, and your cell mate would likely be a murderous young ex-Dior model who shot her designer during a bulimic fit. She would be beautiful, once you got past the hairy legs and pits. And she wouldn’t murder you, because you are so very good in the cot.

  18. 180/360

    Oh Neil, vous êtes fou!

  19. Paige Stanton

    Aw, so funny. What a rude interruption! LOL.

  20. Sarah

    Another reason why those CVS Cards are evil (Ok…so I admit, I buy into the evil…but it’s nevertheless annoying when the CVS-Employee-On-A-Powertrip makes you shuffle through your bag in vain search for one while anxious customers behind you huff, then tells you they won’t use the guest card if you can’t find it).

  21. abbersnail

    “I’ve lost my phone number, can I borrow yours?”

    That is EPIC. I love this line!

  22. Five Husbands

    Ah, I didn’t catch the climax, apparently neither did you.

    Jewish men, gotta love them, they can’t escape guilt, even in pretend Paris.

    I am baking you pretend rugelach, half raspberry/nuts and half tiny files.

  23. Mad WIliam

    Paris imaginairy est mon endroit préféré.

  24. melanie

    welcome to the continental breakfast of cockroaches and beetles.

    yikes. all for a measly 5000. lovely jammies neilochka.

  25. Bec

    Remember when going to imaginary Paris to guarantee finding the prettiest model, take Pierre Louis Colin’s guidebook which tells you where to find them!

  26. -RM

    I know that street! I bought a pair of glasses in a store on the street adjacent to that street!!!!

  27. HeyJoe

    As a truck driving, gun toting, patriotic American, I take offence at your smearing our wasteful, gluttonous ways. SO WHAT if I eat more Freedom fries than a normal 300 pound man should consume. I’m an AMERICAN. I’m entitled.

    And why would you care to sit at a table formerly occupied by Jacque Cousteau? It would probably smell like day-old squid.

  28. Haley-O

    Ahhh, French Existentialism….LOVE.

  29. teahouseblossom

    You used the familiar second person to address a perfect stranger? Quel horreur. Vous avez les grandes joyeuses.

  30. Roadchick

    Because I heart you.
    An award awaits at the Roadtrip.

  31. AnnieH

    A fellow who lived in French Guinea
    Was known as a silly young ninny.
    He utterly lacked
    Good judgment or tact–
    Told une petite ami she was too skinny.

  32. chloe

    you didn’t mention the smell of piss in the metro. it’s not Paris if it doesn’t smell of piss.

  33. Pearl

    At least you only imprison yourself in your imagination and not do more vigorous torture. ;p

  34. Jessica

    Sounds like more than the wallet was lost…that poor girl was robbed of her passionate moment with you!

  35. plain jane

    “I made some jokes at the *expensive* of American culture…” Hmmmm

    Your just jealous that villanovababy is in Paris this week.

  36. maitresse

    wow, you did Juliette? she’s a hottie, and so sweet– definitely one of my favorite imaginary friends 🙂

    Let me know next time you swing by imaginary paris, we can get a nonexistent cup of coffee!

  37. Paris Parfait

    Oh Neil, you hilarious guy, you really should come to the REAL Paris – then Maitresse and I could introduce you to the city’s charms. : )

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