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But it soon became obvious that we three were the only ones
in the house who ever took a bath.
The landlady was very, very fat and an equally fat lady
was her assistant. The two of them looked like the kind of
characters who might have sat around when Sidney Carton was
executed (in The Tale of Two Cities). My first morning, I
wanted to have breakfast somewhere. And in my very best
schoolboy French I asked them to recommend a place. They
looked at each other in astonishment, burst out laughing,
slapped their fat knees, and asked me to please repeat my
question, which I did very indignantly. Again they went into
So we struck a quick deal. If I would talk to them in
French, they would give me breakfast. By the third day, I was
such a success I demanded eggs. The first two days all I got
was a croissant and coffee. But the third day I said, “If I'm
going to be this funny, eggs!”
Did you ever go back there on subsequent visits to Paris?
No, but it was wonderful living there then. I stayed
about a month. That's when I first learned about French prices.
You know, I would go in and buy something. They'd tell me
what it cost and then when I'd give my address, they'd say,
“Oh” and cut the price immediately. No longer was I a rich
American sucker from the Ritz. When they found I lived in
this little street, I was one of them.
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