Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Into the woods

France is a sexy place. It has swingers’ clubs, fetish parties and bakeries specializing in penis-shaped bread. It also has the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (emphasis on the “laye”).

We live on the edge of this very forest. From where we are, it looks all green and beautiful. It has bike trails, blackberry bushes, historic landmarks and lots of hikers carrying fancy metal walking sticks—which they really don’t need because this is in no way the El Capitan of forests. It’s leafy and pretty flat. It also happens to be peppered with prostitutes.

Now, France has a long relationship with prostitution, which continues to this day although the circumstances aren’t quite the same. Gone are the brothels, but the prostitutes remain. If you want to find one, many possibilities exist. For those seeking outdoor adventure, there’s the forest of Saint-Germain.

To be a prostitute in the forest, you need a plastic shopping bag. Because racolage (solicitation) is illegal, plastic bags are attached to tree branches along the highway to serve as passive markers for the wandering eye. If you drive through the forest and come across a bag floating from a tree, there will be a prostitute perched fetchingly on a folding chair a few meters into the shrubbery. Sometimes the prostitute is a he, dressed as a she. Sometimes the prostitute is not fully clad, just to make sure that the open for business message is crystal clear.

Drive further on, and you will eventually come to L’Etang du Cora. A lovely pond by day and quite popular with the stroller crowd, it bares another face entirely come nightfall, when swingers, voyeurs and various other libertines take over—which sort of makes one think twice before sitting on any of the pond’s public benches, and often results in random pieces of TMI being strewn about for discovery by the morning’s first promeneurs. “Look Mommy, I found a balloon!” “That’s not a balloon dear, now let’s go wash your hands with some bleach.”

How do I know all this? Because I went to French driving school, and the parking lot of L’Etang du Cora, in addition to apparently being a great spot for casual group sex, is also a handy place to practice parallel parking and 3-point turns. Or at least that’s what they told me.

Next time: back to politics, with the final chapter of my 3-part look at the US electoral system. Less sexy than the French forest, perhaps, but cleaner safer more interesting less illegal.