Perpignan breeds crazies. It actually does. The amount of insane people in this city is completely disproportionate to any other city I have ever been in--all of us have remarked upon it, but none of us really know why. Emma had a theory that only two more weeks would turn us all crazy (we're at the point of naming pigeons and muttering 'que pasa' under our breath mid-convo already). Luckily, she's peaced out already, and I've only got a week and a half left--Alice and Karen, on the other hand, are gonna be full-blown Perps crazies by the end of the month.
Anyway, I'm pulling another out of the archives (news this week is far too depressing to blog about: Emma's gone back to Blighty, leaving only three of the Core Four here...), one that highlights the crazies that are already established in Perps, and the crazies that we are gradually turning into throughout our year as assistants in Perpignan.
A couple of weeks ago, Kili, Emma, Alice, and I were sitting outside at our local haunt, Louis--a cafe/sandwich/pastry shop where the staff hate us even though we're essentially the only clientele keeping them in business--when a woman walked inside. We could not. stop. staring. She was about sixty years old, wearing this huge, fake, red flower in her hair, and what essentially was a red top. It was a halter, probably ployester, about tunic-length, and had ruffles on the lower portion. But this woman was wearing it as a dress, although it didn't even reach quite past the bottom of her butt. Just grazed the bottom bit, but just. Heels, red top, red flower in her hair.
I think I've mentioned before how windy Perpignan is. I mean, we had a hurricane. But even on the days where the wind isn't gale force, we still always have breezy weather. This day at Louis was no exception. As she walked in the door to Louis, a breeze blew up her "dress", revealing exactly no pairs of underwear under there. Not even a little bit. Just butt. We, and all of the other modest Frenchies surrounding us, were scandalized.
You have to understand that style and dress in France is far different than in the States. I consider myself to be a fairly modest dresser for the most part back home. Here, I am the odd woman out for showing a bit of my collar bones or wearing a skirt without nylons or tights. It's very unusual to see a French person--or anyone in France, for that matter (most foreigners, myself included, are shamed into dressing modestly for the benefit of the French population. Either that or they're just sick of the stares and animal noises)--wearing as little clothing as this woman was. It's kind of a big deal. It was also the most exciting thing to happen in our sleepy little town in a long, long while.
Immediately, all of us moved to the opposite side of the table to stare at the woman while she was inside Louis ordering. Watching other French people watch her was part of the hilarity--the stares that she induced, man.
This is where it starts to get crazy. Perhaps it's because we were bored with nothing to do. It could have been the sun. It could be, perhaps, that our shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all (10 points for whoever gets the reference) is that Perpignan is turning us, too, completely insane. When the Lady in Red came out of Louis, we all pretended not to stare at her as she was walking away. She seemed to be totally enjoying the attention--flipping her hair back and forth and smirking as she saw people's head turn. As she rounded the corner and passed out of sight, we all began excitedly speaking about her and her weird shirt-dress, and--I'm not sure who said it, but it's best that it's not remembered. Best not to pin the blame on anyone, really...
We decided to follow her.
We quickly gathered our bags, and trotted off in the direction she was headed, and scanned the crowd for a woman in a red shirt--she was rather easy to spot due to the craning necks that she left in her wake. We caught up to her around the Castillet, and continued down the main street, and then up the large avenue leading out of town. We followed her almost to the Sunday market--in all, I think we were tailing her, watching the carnage she left behind in the form of dropped French jaws, for about 30 minutes. And yes--here's the embarassing bit--we were taking pictures.
While following the Lady in Red, I think the group of us were just thinking about the stares she was getting, wondering where she was going, what she was doing (I believe I kept repeating, "I just want to know her story, you know?"), et cetera. Afterwards, I think we realized how completely insane what we had just done was. We followed a woman, for about a half an hour, and took pictures of her. We're not private investigators. We're not police fighting the drug war in Baltimore (holla). We are stalkers. Pure and simple. We stalked that woman.
I am going insane.
I should add that later that night, Kili and I met up with Emma and Alice at Emma's house. One of the first things that Alice said to us was, whilst hyperventilating, "Oh my god you guys I have the most exciting news! GUESS who I saw?" Both Kili and I responded with "The Lady in Red?!?!" On the bus ride to Emma's that evening, the Lady in Red was cycling in front of the bus, still in her red top from the day. It was fate.