Posted by: Jim | September 26, 2005

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An American Embarassed

And Speaking of Michael J. Fox, I should recount my Michael J. Fox sighting story. (I stole this idea from Beth.)

The year is 1991. The month is August. The Butcher and Mrs. Butcher (his then-wife and mother of the Butchlings) are celebrating their 5th anniversary in the fair city of Paris, France.

After bearing the full brunt of the very worst rudeness Paris had to offer (seriously), my wife and I deferred to dining at foreign restaurants that did not feature French waiters. On this fine night, we ate at an expensive Indian Restaurant that was a mere stone’s throw from our hotel on the Left Bank. The food was excellent, and the service was friendly and crisp. The restaurant was very classy, black tie waiters, folded cloth napkins, a very sober atmosphere with a constant hum of quiet, dignified conversation. You get the idea.

I imbibed in a few glasses of port, and was feeling quite good.

One of the most amusing things about Paris is how people will dine with their dogs. I scanned the restaurant to see how many people were allowing their canines to nibble at their garlic naan, and lo and behold, I spied Michael J. Fox a few tables away, dining with his wife.

My wife and I were pleased by our star sighting so far from Hollywood. I continued to imbibe in my port, and as he and his wife were outside the restaurant getting into a cab, I tipped my chair back to get one … last … glimpse …

And suddenly I found that my chair had tipped back slightly further than I really wanted. There was a brief moment of semi-panic, and I attempted to grab the table so as to right myself and prevent the one potential outcome that I suddenly did not want to happen in the most extreme way. In lunging for the table, however, I believe I increased my backward momentum, so not only did I find myself teetering hopelessly backward, I managed to jostle the table and have it crash noisily back down. Luckily, the table managed to land upright, although some of the silver was askew and the glasses splashing a bit of their contents off onto the tablecloth. What the noise accomplished, however, was that every eye in the restaurant, both human and canine, were suddenly fixed upon the silly American man who was tipping precariously backward in his chair. Then, slowly, like an instant replay of a tennis ball bouncing just past the foul line, yours truly went crashing to the floor in a most ungracious manner.

The hum of dignified conversation stopped cold, and the French diners responded to my faux pas with a dead silence that spoke volumes.

The French did not approve of me.

And that is fine. I don’t approve of them either.

Neener.

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