Brigitta? Pregzilla? Nooo waaay! I get the news as I am preparing my trip to Paris to celebrate the wedding of said Brigitte (Bri-Bri d’Amour) and Christian, both university professors in different European countries. They began dating the previous year and while some may consider holy matrimony perhaps a bit hasty at this stage, you need to understand that their pillow talks consist mainly of discussions about the merits of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-philosophicus.” In other words, if they don’t marry each other, who else will marry them?
Not too sound crassly unintellectual, but if my date brings up Wittgenstein over sushi and a mojito, the chances of subsequent intimate conversation appear close to nil in my book. “Philosophical Investigations” perhaps, but the “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”? immediate elimination from the dating pool! Poof!
Wittgenstein and Bribri, Pillow Talk
Two weeks before the trip, I receive an email from my friend Lucy. “Brigitte’s wedding is delayed. She has to stay in the hospital until the birth of the baby. No need to worry.” The birth of WHAT? Seriously? The problem with living so far from where you grew up is that you tend to miss crucial tidbits of information here and there… such as a friend’s 6 month pregnancy!
So Brigitte has decided to delay her wedding for purely egotistical health reasons. Some people’s narcissism knows no boundaries! I will still go to Paris and have a party. Off to Paris!!!
On the evening the wedding would have taken place, we visit Brigitte at the hospital.
Le Gang de l’Hopital Cochin
Brigitte, while a bit on the pale side, appears in good spirits. And quite voluminous, if I may say. The man sitting on the right is David, my nemesis.
David, most of the time, is an insufferable human being. On the above photograph, David is not offering advice on how to take the picture, he is telling me how to take it. Is David a photographer? Er, no, but David always thinks he knows better than anyone else which is generally MY prerogative. He is the only person I know to have purchased two $8,000 Canon Mark III in one week time (because he left the first one on a table in his New York hotel and oh it got stolen!) How ridiculous is THAT?!?
Anyway, David is my nemesis because he suspended me to a coat hanger one evening at school when we were kids and let’s say that I had to wait for help in order to get back to the floor and missed my bus. All the other people photographed above are very nice.
My excellent friend Lucy once told David: “David, when you talk, I always expect something really profound, then, nothing of the sort ever comes out.”
To which David replied: “Lucy, with you, I never expect anything and I’m rarely disappointed.”
While David entertains the group with crazy lady stories, I pull Brigitte to the side and shoot a few pregnancy images. Europe does not have a tradition of calling on family photographers. When I explain to Bribri that in the US, pregnant women traditionally pose in studios, she laughs her head off: “So, let me get this straight: women go to the studio, undress, wrap themselves in some kind of drapery and pose with their puffy face, their swollen legs and the 40 lbs they’ve gained? Hee hee hee…”
I finally manage to pin her to a tree for five minutes. She’ll thank me one day.
Time to leave Brigitte to her hospital bed and decide how to handle the rest of the evening. Stagnation ensues. With a group bigger than two, decisions can result in long periods of intense discussions.
Tired of the endless tergiversations, I corner Sabine and Marco for an impromptu session. They live in Milan with their three kids.
Marco e Sabine
For the longest time, Sabine headed a hamam (Turkish Bathhouse.) I don’t think any funny business happened there but I could be mistaken. Perhaps not enough funny business happened since she left the operations.
Since Marco is an authentic specimen of the Italian race, we decide unanimously that he will have the great privilege to cook pasta for us that night at David’s who lives in the neighborhood.
More walking… About that book “French women don’t get fat”, I could have written it and could have saved the publishing company many many Euros. It would have been a one sentence book: French women walk. No gas guzzling monster, just a pair of trendy shoes and strut your style. Herein lies the secret.
Mine is Bigger
The minute we get to his place, David takes out the big gun (the second Mark III, the one that did not get stolen – yet) and launches the “Mine is bigger” routine.
A very well-connected highfalutin Parisian attorney, David dates the weirdest women. A plastic snake adorns the doorstep of his otherwise very tasteful apartment. The ridicule snake protects him from a stalking ex with a reptile phobia.
Julie und Ingo
Ingo and his “Julee” live in Düsseldorf. Ingo’s recurrent theme is sperm competition. The argument invariably follows a declaration from David regarding his own insatiability. Ingo is also known to be very cheap and we make fun of him any chance we get.
David is also the only man I know whose ex threatened suicide, then attempted to off herself with… homeopathic medication. That’s one hell of a health-conscious suicide attempt, if you ask me! It would also takes months… Or the content of a whole pharmacy! In the end, it did not work very well.
I may give the man a lot of grief but, with time, I am learning to appreciate him. An evening around him is never boring. It’s just difficult to be able to place a word in the conversation David is having with himself.
Didier is currently co-producing the new reggae CD of Bako Hiriz.Band. Fun fun CD. Please listen to it here.
“Nous avons les moyens de vous faire parler!”
It is late in the evening. Only Didier and David remain. On the above photograph, David interrogates Didier.
Didier and his Thinker
Didier drew The Thinker for David more than 20 years ago. It still adorns the walls of his kitchen. Didier says it’s the only valuable piece of art in David’s whole apartment.
Pretty much, when you start photographing people’s feet, this is THE sign you need to put the camera away and go to bed. And so I did.
My friends should not get married more often.