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Les Souvenirs de Juliette Binoche


Juliette Binoche

Last night, I watched a free online movie starring Juliette Binoche. It was one of those quiet evenings where even the cicadas were silent. Which helped because I've rare neurological hearing diseases and listening to English, let alone French is a stretch. Besides, I miss hearing and speaking French. Since I came down with these diseases, it's been a challenge. To the point where I stopped speaking to my French website designer in French.

Until I sat down to watch this movie, I totally forgot I met Juliette Binoche well over twenty-five years ago in Paris. In a Chinese restaurant located in the middle of a neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. I believe it was the 18th.

At any rate, I sat at a table and ate alone. To my left were two women seated across from each other. The young one spoke animatedly while the older one listened. Several times the young woman looked over at me. At one point, they included me in their conversation as we nearly touched elbows.

I don't recall my contribution as I was steeped in my usual existential rumination of my own life. Not that I'm a deep person or an intellect. Hell, most of my life I've been accused of a superficial attitude and surface depth. But, I've always been plagued with the same questions of who I am, the meaning of my life, the purpose of what I do and whether any of this is justified.

Kinda sucks.

That was back then. Remembering that trip to Paris also brought to mind the life I once had. Those were the days when I could afford to fly off to Europe for six to eight weeks of vacation. Spending a summer in Majorca, another in Israel. Brazil. Spain twice. Colombia. Winter in France. Prague. Germany. Without fear of terrorist attacks.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how well I lived. I never thought I lived well, striving for more, buying into the American dream. Not the copious consumption, but for doing more with my life. Comparing myself to everyone else for no matter my success, I always found tons of people who did more than I ever could. Which kicks into my self-absorbed pondering about my worth in the scheme of things and the hidden messages leeched from the omnipotent universe.

That sucks as well.

After Juliette and her older companion left the restaurant, another patron, a Frenchman, approached me.

Standing in front of my table, he asked in French, "Did you know you were talking to Juliette Binoche?"

"Aucune idee," I responded. Not a clue.

All this came back to me in a flash while watching the movie. Suddenly, I heard my name in the background of the soundtrack!

"Non, c'est pas vrai!" I thought, meaning, this can't be real.

My name was repeated, louder and louder, drowning the dialogue. Until I realized it came from outside.

Sheepishly, I got up from the couch, paused the movie and walked to my front door. Illuminated by the kitchen light, a beacon in the pitch darkness, I saw my girlfriend and her husband.

"Wow! I thought you were background sounds in this French film and wondered how they got my name in the movie."

She responded, "Sorry, my cellphone died otherwise I'd notify you in advance."

My girlfriend and her husband are always welcome to come over no matter the time of day or night to swim in the lake whether I'm here or not. They're really good people who work hard. The best part is seeing how much they enjoy swimming in the lake. Oftentimes, at night, I bring out towels and leave them be to swim in privacy. Yet, they're exceedingly polite and always ask permission and then spend time with me before swimming.

Her husband said, "I told her not to bother yelling your name because of your weird deafness." The only reliable aspect of my weird deafness is its unreliability. Then he piped in, "A French movie?"

We spoke about an array of topics before they went to swim. I really wanted to give them privacy and, given the time at night, let them enjoy a longer swim before they head off home. That's why I failed to mention that I met Juliette Binoche in a Chinese restaurant in Paris around twenty-five years or so ago.


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