Thursday, June 18, 2009

Romance, Drama Gratuit with Paid Admission to Paris

After a sunny day spent in the halls and gardens of Versailles outside the city, Rachel and I took a Bateaux Mouches tourist boat for an hour long cruise down the Seine. As per usual, there were couples smooching each other's faces off on every quai we passed... that public display of affection is so Paris, n'est-ce pas?
When passing by the Jardin de Tuileries and the Louvre on the way home, we saw the passion of Paris played out in a different way. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a mid-50s woman rapidly climbing over the stone wall in a seeming attempt to jump onto the concrete many feet below. Rachel saw it too, and we stopped and turned to make sure what we were seeing was real. The man who was with the jumper grabbed her around the waist and wrestled her back onto the sidewalk. Rae and I looked at each other, and back at the couple. Certainly the woman was just fooling around? She hit the man in the chest, and he grabbed her arms and shook her. They were both yelling passionately and crying and pushing, and then before we could comprehend what was going on, she climbed up on the railing again to jump. Once more, the man grabbed her around the waist and very forcibly yanked her back. Rae and I were not more than 50 feet away from this debacle, and there were other folks closer. Following the 2nd attempt to jump, the other spectators (native French speakers!) went over to the couple to try to calm them. It seemed everything was fine after about 10 minutes, but then the man stormed off and left the woman forlorn and hysterical. She waited until he was almost out of sight, and then ran desperately after him, finally catching up at the right bank side of the Pont Royal. They continued their raging at one another, pushing, yelling, shaking each other, until this time she threw her legs over the bridge railing in a last attempt to hurl herself into the river. Rachel and I gasped and the man grabbed her and pulled her back from the edge once more... then they walked across the street in tears and got on the Metro at the Louvre. 

All day Rae and I have been making up stories for what in the world they were fighting about... it must have been something consequential if she was willing to hurl herself onto the concrete or into the Seine. Did she cheat on him and he was leaving her? Or perhaps he asked for a divorce? Whatever it was, it was hardcore and we very nearly were witness to a horrific accident in broad daylight. 

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