Paris Is Burning (Part I)

I walk in to the Barajas International Airport in Madrid clutching my small black Kenneth Cole carry-on bag, the only thing I’m taking with me to Paris. I had heard earlier that the recently remodeled international terminal was currently being used as a location spot for the third Bourne film. I don’t see Matt Damon stunting about. Then again, I don’t have much time to focus on finding action stars. I’m late for my flight.

The night before I had gone out with Chico Rock and his friends to Royal Cool, the largest gay club in Spain. As a result, I’m not only late for my early afternoon flight, but I’m also hung-over. In no condition to be doing physical stunts of my own, instead of dashing, shoving and hectically trying to catch my flight, I accept my fate: there’s no way I’m going to make my flight. Considering it’s pointless to be dashing frantically through the terminal, I stroll.

“When is your departure time?” the airline assistant asks typing some keys into the computer. I look down at my watch, gesture nonchalantly and answer, “Five minutes ago.” She’s a little confused by my lack of concern, but I’m certain that the worse that could happen is that I’m going be put on a later flight, get to Paris later tonight, meet up with my friends at the hostel and continue on my merry way. That was not the worse that happened.

Failing to read the fine print, I did not know that my flight, because it was so cheap, was a one-time deal. No refunds, cancellations or rescheduling.  Damn you, RyanAir! The only thing I can do now is purchase a one-way to Paris for 450 euros, the assistant regrets to inform me. But fuck that!

After about 40 minutes of talking to airline agents and the ticket counter, trying to negotiate a way to get me to France for free, my persistence and their frustration gets me a ride up a secret elevator to the top floor. I’m not sure who I’m going to see, but they make her sound important. I’m kind of nervous? Nah, she’s my ticket out of here and on to Paris. I’m ready.

I walk into her office and see a woman in her early forties sitting in a large leather desk chair, wearing a black pencil skirt, heels, square-rimmed glasses, straight auburn hair parted on the side. She’s looks up at me and doesn’t smile and I think, “Great! There’s no way this lesbian is going to have any sympathy for me and put me on a flight to Paris!”

But she’s actually the most understanding of my situation… no, not that I had gone partying the night before but that I was taking an exam at my institute this morning that had taken longer than expected. She prints out another boarding pass, signs it, hands it to me and this time, she smiles. And 20 minutes, I’m sitting on another Paris bound RyanAir flight.

“Well, I am very glad you made it,” Paris Boy #1 says to me after I tell him the story. It’s my last night in Paris. I have a flight back early in the morning, but instead of sleeping at our dungy, stuffy hostel in Montmartre, swarming with hippies and vagabonds, I decide to pull an all-nighter and use my hostel money to get into an exclusive and much-talked about club at the end of Les Champs Elysee, Le Queen, a recommendation from Chico Rock.

Paris Boy #1 has short, spiky hair and wearing a grey polo shirt. Because I never really paid attention in high school French and I dropped out of my college French class, I’m thankful that he speaks English fluently, even more thankful that he has retained his accent. He speaks softly and in a reserved tone even when he’s talking about the dirty things he likes to do in bed. The 25-year-old law student noticed me clutching my black Kenneth Cole bag at the bar and thought it was unusual… he called it “peculiar.” It’s common for businessmen catching a red eye or something, but I seemed kind of young and kind of unemployed and like I had been living in a cheap hostel for a week, so yeah it was rather “peculiar.”

We make out on the dancefloor to an awful eurotechno song. The lighting at Le Queen shades the club in fluorescent violets and blue hues. There isn’t much dancing, not tonight anyway. The boys stand in place to look, but they rarely touch. It’s my last night, so I don’t care if I break the club’s customary stance. I’m touching Paris Boy #1 all over. Le Queen is not that big, so no matter where you’re standing you can get a good view of the whole place and the hotties bathed in color and motionless like mannequins all crowding inside. But I was so wrapped up in this hottie, I didn’t notice his boyfriend, Paris Boy #2, approaching.

[Paris Is Burning (Part II)]

Oscar Raymundo
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