Monday, June 21, 2010
Hunchbacks aren't the only weirdos in Notre Dame
After my visit to Notre Dame, I was inspired to purchase Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in a futile effort to extend my Parisian experience. For those of you cheaters who've only ever watched the Disney movie, it's a completely different story. That Quasimodo is almost cute. I can assure you, though, that the Quasimodo of the story is the most wretched, horrible human disfiguration ever created, in reality or imagination. The hunchback from the movie 300 doesn't compare. Anyway, my point is, all of the characters in that book are total freaks. Whether they had freakish looks (Quasimodo), freakish imaginations (Esmerelda), freakish life stories (the Hag), or freakish ideas (the Priest), freakiness pervails around the cathedral of Notre Dame. And I realized this before I even read the book.
When I approached the monstrosity that is Notre Dame, my eyes immediately picked out the gargoyles on its facade. I really, really like gargoyles. My eyes roved it's flying butresses and its windows, drinking it in. I waited on a line for ten minutes to get inside, and immediately I was overcome by the eerieness of the inside. There was constant music, whether a recording of a choir or an actual choir I don't know, but the tones were deep and sonorous, reverberating off the cold walls to echo up the rafters. The hues of the stained glass weren't bright, but rather they cast dimly colored hues across the stone floors. The sculptures and paintings that decorate the cathedral are lit dimly by the few tiny lights that dot the church. There are chairs set up in the church that serve as pews, where people sit while the rest of the masses that are touring the cathedral drone by. The flashing of cameras is constant and the noise of tip-toeing feet and small whispers is so loud that there is no peace or serenity to be found anywhere inside. I lit a candle in honor of my loved ones, which I normally don't do. But considering that its Notre Dame, I figure having a candle lit in your name is a kind of a big deal. And after sitting for twenty minutes unable to muster any sort of prayer from my breast, I degectedly left.
I went back outside into the cold, which even in the middle of the day during summer was biting in Paris, and waited for my family to come out. They'd got on line to enter after I did and hence took an extra 45 minutes to exit. I sat on a chilly stone stump outside of the church and people watched for those 45 minutes. I discovered more weirdos entering and exiting this cathedral than is possible to mention. Two groups in particular stand out in my mind. First, there were the snake skins. A couple, both decked out in snakeskin EVERYTHING stood next to me taking tacky photo after tacky photo. The girl had long, grimy blonde hair twisted into knots. She wore about 17 earrings and a snakeskin bracelet. Her snakeskin boots pointed up toward the sky and the heels on these beasts were at least 4 inches. The best, though, was her snakeskin belly shirt. In 40 degree weather. The shirt was complemented beautifully by a pair of RIPPED snakeskin pants tighter than they should have been. So tight that what little fat she had was burstig through the rips in her pants in a really unbecoming fashion. Her I'm guessing husband wore a white snakeskin coat that reached his ankles, around which were snakeskin boots that matched his wife's. He had on a snakeskin hat, and his long, grimy blonde hair was even longer than hers. The only thing on him that wasn't snakeskin was his leather pants. And 10 minutes after I tore my eyes from these two, I saw on line to enter the church a huge group of gangstathugs. I haven't seen their like in a long, long time. Baggy pants whose waists are resting at the place where butt meets leg, shirts long enough to be old women's moo-moo dresses, sideways and backwards hats with flat rims, and bling. Lots and lots of bling. I was almost tempted to get up and see if they had gold teeth. I should have. Instead, I chuckled at them on my cold rock thinking to myself how wonderful a profession people-watching would be.
And so I rest my case on the freakishness of Notre Dame.
Arrivederci, for now.