Being Capricorn…In Paris

Filed in Capricorn

Paris by Gili

Pluto in Capricorn, the Zap Zone Post-personal Pluto transit, what else to do but The Year Of Living Selfishly?

For a Cap having a mid-life meltdown _ softened by the golden parachute of a redundancy payout _ it was really no contest. Might as well be unemployed in Paris as unemployed in Melbourne. Loveliness is consoling, and I needed a lot of consoling. The profession I had loved for 30 years was dying, one of MM’s dinosaurs. And moving to France seemed a change huge enough and hare-brained enough to be Zap-Zone compliant.

 With Pluto in Cap, all my Cap friends have suddenly found themselves losing their jobs; some, their partners or their health as well. I also had Pluto doing something ghastly in my personal chart for seven appalling years a while ago. Frankly, I have had enough of learning experiences that help one grow. I want some pleasure. And aren’t the French supposed to have perfected that?

I think each nationality has the traits of a particular star sign. America is Aries, brash and optimistic and full of itself. Australia is Sagg; sport-obsessed, cheerful, outgoing, says what it thinks and loves the great outdoors. England is Taurus:  reliable, stoic and resistant to change, and happiest with the stodgy food of nursery years.

 And France _ France is Virgo: intellectual and analytical, moody and perfectionistic, graceful and vile-tempered. It is endearing one minute and infuriating the next, with such a powerful sense of aesthetics that it created the world’s most seductive city.

I expected the worst of the French. Grouchy arrogant bastards with no patience for foreigners, is the general view. But I arrived in the middle of a northern winter. Paris is not swarming with tourists. Parisians are living their ordinary lives.

And what you notice is A: the courtliness of their manners and B: their enthusiasm for correcting you _ not to hurt or humiliate, but because there is A Right Way, and you have somehow strayed from it.

Madame must be careful, her backpack is undone! Madame must tie the belt of her coat, it has drifted loose and she might lose it! Madame must not laugh when the man at the bank tells her he cannot track down the card that has not arrived because, without that same card, he cannot access her account. “This is very serious, madame!” he says reprovingly, as she giggles over the Catch-22. (Madame, by the way, adores being Madame – so very grand!)

Struggle with a word at the butcher’s and you find yourself first corrected by the man behind the counter, who twists his face into comical spasms as he exaggerates the way to wrap one’s mouth around French vowels. This is done at stentorian volume with the whole shop listening attentively. Then, each member of the queue behind you will lean forward in turn to contribute his or her little gem to the topic in hand, all opening their mouths widely and speaking very, very slowly as if to a tiny child or a grandmother with a hearing trumpet.

It’s like being in a classroom with 10 teachers and one student. Virgo corrective nagging par excellence.

The movie When Harry Met Sally has always seemed to me to be about a Capricorn/Virgo love affair: Sally the Miss Hospital Corners who softens up over the years, and Harry the pessimistic, details-obsessed Virgo wounded in love who is frightened to try again.

I order food like Sally. I have been known to throw away a kebab because they slathered it in ketchup instead of tzatziki. I always order sauces on the side (because what if you don’t like the sauce and it’s already all over everything?) And I conduct a forensic cross-examination of the waiter before deciding: Is it a chicken breast or thigh? A lamb shank or fillet? Is the chocolate cake served warm or cold?

It drives Australians insane. My adult children want to hide under the table.

The French, bless them, adore it. Stony-faced waiters smile. They nod. They debate. They dash back to the kitchen to ask urgent questions of the chef.  Madame is taking the food seriously. This is to be respected. Dammit, this is to be ex-pected.

Caps are meant to do the hard stuff early. I’ve had years of it, on both the work and the home fronts, and Paris is to be my reward; the year of living selfishly. There have been magical moments. Rushing out of the bank, shoving dreary documents into my bag, and glancing up to see the Arc de Triomphe. Leaving the print shop with my new business cards and catching sight of the Opera at the end of the road. That sweet lift of the heart at magnificence in the midst of the mundane.

And there has been the happy discovery that the French know how to laugh at themselves. In the movie Seven Psychopaths at the cinema in Les Halles, two of the film’s characters debated how best to end the script of a film they were writing. One wanted a blood-spattered shoot-out. The other wanted the characters to leave their guns, go into the desert and talk about the meaning of life. The splatter-fan said in exasperation, “What are we making, French movies now?”

The French audience roared.

They also know how to laugh at me. At dinner in a brasserie near the Bastille, I found myself sitting close to a man who looked in profile to be the handsome young actor Romain Duris. If I weren’t such a well-behaved cougar, I would have reached out and stroked those glossy black curls.

“Was that Romain Duris?” I asked the sardonic young waiter (note to self: tautology, all French waiters are sardonic). “No,” he said, whisking away dishes. “But I have seen him in this area.”

Casting a wicked glint over one shoulder as he disappeared into the kitchen, he called out, “Maybe you will get lucky!”

In classic Saturn fashion, Capricorn in Paris wishes to remain incognito, so no link.

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Image: Paris – Gili – Society 6

64 thoughts on “Being Capricorn…In Paris

  1. Yes, Capricorn in Paris, you understand the French manner. What is more, you appreciate it. It is the only city in the world where noone asks me where I’m from, they simply presume i’m one of them. If i have a language problem they tend to assume it’s a clash of existential values, and a round table conference ensues. If i explain i’m from Australia, they are at first suspicious, then disbelieving. It’s a Virgo style compliment.

    You will probably sit next to many glossy curly haired young men resembling Romain Duris in your Parisian life, Mme Capricorne. Enjoy them, and the delectably earnest customer service.

    • Yes that line took my imagination with it too. What a lovely memory to share with us…thanks Cap in Paris. Let the good times roll…xxx

  2. What an evocative piece of writing. I wonder what business the author has set up in Paris? I’m intrigued.

    Also – French boyfriends (and their families), will tell you that you are wearing the wrong sized bra for your breast shape, that your hair needs to be cut differently, and that your sister is better looking and more feminine than you are. Well, that was out of earshot, but I heard it. Hm! I’ve never yet met a French vegetarian either :)

    • And that is exactly why I gave my French bf the boot eventually. They are so pushy about making you conform to their shitty standards. Eventually you just crumble with self-esteem problems that take you years of therapy to get over or you eject their asses. There’s only so much negative criticism you can take of your clothes not being trendy enough, you gaining weight, you wearing too much makeup, etc…

  3. This felt like a micro-vacation at the end of a very dull silicon valley workaholic kinda day. Thank you. Inspired me to work my Pluto-ized Venus in Cap rehabilitated ice queen on!

    I hope you enjoy your year of earth-y beauty and that opportunities for work await should you decide to return home. If anything you have a beautiful writing voice…maybe your adventures will become a book!

  4. What a fabulous piece of writing. My first thought was…”oh no, this is going to be like that Julia Roberts movie where she’s rich in different countries.”
    But it isn’t at all.
    I loved reading it and agree completely.
    Am almost envious and if my own life wasn’t so deliciously hedonistic in a sublimely Pluto in Cap zen zap zone mid life transit kind of way, I would be!

    Ok, maybe I am, just a little:-)
    But since I live on the Thames in London, I have no complaints only respect for your choices. Paris is indeed the most visually inspired city in the world and being a Virgo myself I am LOVING your analogy of Paris as a Virgo.

    Madame writes beautifully and one hopes that Madame is doing more of that sort of thing. Loving the well behaved cougar vibe too.
    Moi non plus.
    X

  5. P.s. I was kidding about “eat pray vom”. I loved the book and hated the movie the way one does when one loves a book and clings to it for dear life through a divorce.
    Apologies for the comparison – was just flexing my silly
    You are super cool (avec un accent )
    ZU Pear key-you-Elle

  6. Madame writes so beautifully, i could read her for hours.
    Please post book details in 2014 for when book is released.
    I’ll take the whole series of your world travels for the next 12 years.
    Merci.

    My Capricorn Aunt, sent her Father a three page letter from Paris in her early twenties (She’s recently turned 51), proposing he fund a three year stay, which would cover accomodation and study. She would work part time and study French part time. He still laughs his head off at it, after a few red wines at Family get togehters, while also complimenting said letter as the most beautiful thing he had ever read from her … The first time i heard the story, i was like, so what happeened, did you send the money ??? Did she stay and study ??? – And he was like ”I sent her a thank you card,$100, and told her to be back by end of year for Uni next year..” Her Father is a hilarious Gemini.

      • She was serious as a heart attack, and you should see the look he gets when that one comes out of the bag at parties ! .. Daggers i tell you, daggers dunked in fuel, and set alight indeed .. Not.Funny.Dad. or rather ”Shut thy face” .. Mwa.

  7. I am going to let my Inner Virgo to put on her Reference Librarian’s hat here:

    The Best book on Living in Paris for foreigners (and yes, I *have* read them all), is “Stuff Parisians Like” by Olivier Magny, A Parisian.

    Its not *really*funny, but if you know anything about Paris (and I do, my sister lived there for six months. Its the closest I’ve got so far, but I WILL RIDE THROUGH PARIS IN A SPORTS CAR WITH THE WARM WIND IN MY HAIR, if I have to kill everything I love to do it…..)

    …..ahem, where was I ?

    Oh yes, its not really funny, but lots of “Ahhhh” moments when all those books by confused American women come into focus. I suspect if you’ve ever lived there for any time you’d find it very interesting.

  8. I DO adore this piece, for the writing and how it acknowledges French precision. I was reading a blog piece on French dressing earlier this month and it was pointed out that unlike US fashion where you get a sudden proliferation of the same trend, the French are not so much into replication of a look as they are into being well-kept. A French girl I worked with was very much that, she bought her clothes at this somewhat cheap and cheerful shop but they always fit and were beautifully cared for.

    In fact, there was a delicacy to it. This was also the time I began to truly cherish my tailor, cobbler and cleaner. I love that Ms. Cap is soaking the Virgo-ness of Paris with amusement and light-heartedness, but I suppose that’s to be expected given how despite all the details, the French seem to have perfected the shrug as an answer to most things.

    I’ve been drooling over France lately, ok..so that was somewhat prompted by a cheeky Frenchman, but still. It’s lovely to hear someone Zap-Zoning in such a deeply beautiful and elegant setting. Me? I work in Compton. Everyday. Yep, the same Compton they rap about as the CPT, yeah you know me.

    • I had this kind of experience in Rome. Small daily tasks like going to the bakery, the laundromat, the outdoor market, getting coffee, etc. and interacting with the people there were such enjoyable activities, not errands or anything. Life was simple -on paper, but actually very full of wonderful experiences all the time and I was so happy. :)

      It’d be fun if we all wrote about our person “Paris” and gave our signs as well. Kind of a travel recommendation for others for the great places where everyday life is so lovely.

    • compton’s in tha house… what;s that part of town like these days?!

      it’s true what they say. deshabille only works in bed. or as a student. otherwise, no slobs on the streets of paris. to re-inject your style with some kind of structure and attn to the details, get to paris or italy for a while.. [i know paris is a city and italy is a country, but i have seen more of italy and everyone puts themselves together well there. it's part of the national philosophy.]

  9. Ah oui, Paris, je comprends totallement – How beautifully you expressed an experience, your experience. Merci mille fois. Virgoan Paris? oui mais aussi tres Scorpio, n’est-ce pas?

    I hadn’t seeen Paris for 25 years until 4 years ago, and when I did, I practically fell on my knees in a delirium of joy and delight that it was even more beautiful and atmospheric than I had imagined – if that is possible! how is that possible? Oh thank you gay mayor or Paris for sending out the fairies (probably true a la Karl) with your black and gold paint boxes to touch up and perfect inner Paris. Not surprised Parisians did say, yes the centre is exquisite but the poor suburbs…

    And the bicycles! how freeing they seem to made everyone. It is so easy and painless to get around. Did ask five or six people if they had seen any accidents. Mais non. Brilliant.

    And yes, I too found everyone, everyone so charmingly helpful. So disposed to help. So elegant in their giving of it. We can learn so much there. It is so charming to be charmed, and charm makes life, well, so charming.

    I applaud this woman for diving in, unemployed and all the anxiety that goes with that, and just enjoying what is a very brave and marvellously sane choice – to follow one’s biggest wish. May it deliver it to her (you) and all who do the same. I wish I was as equally brave.

  10. Oh, and what star sign fits with the French (Parisians mostly) having only 3 obsessions: eating, its digestion, sex – and which all basically boil down to ONE: the body/appearance? Not entirely Virgoan, because a little merciless.

  11. Wonderful writing, apt astro descriptions, and personally evocative as have been immersed since last summer in learning French (and Italian) as apparently part of Pluto’s potent wide-swath 4th-house culture-shifting. Can’t get enough of books about Paris and the French right now, and have been scheming for months how to get myself over there for a couple weeks this year.

    This great little piece threw a little gas on that fire. Je vous remercie!

  12. Mme Cap, this is beautiful – I wonder if you are a journo let go in recent blood-letting and are now shaping new stories. Pluto works in mysterious ways.

  13. In the process of obtaining a French passport right now! This post is really making me feel it is worth it. (My FiL is Frenchie going back at least 7 generations so my kids will be able to get passports).

    My 4 year old was watching ‘Ratatouille’ tonight and said seriously, “Can I go to Paris? I want I live in Paris”. What a lush. “One day I am sure you will”, I told him. That foodie gene is coming through in the little Kataka alright!

    I have always been fascinated by Italy & Rome, Egypt & Asia, but not France so much. Perhaps I will even get to go there one day and have that change.

  14. Isn’t America a cancer? Very nationalistic.

    I always thought that Paris -a Leo city- represented France for most people and that’s the France they are looking for. Not virgo so much All sorts of beautiful experiences and letting the inner artist come out and breathe.

  15. After reading the cappi memoir I am shocked to find that capricorns aren’t as boring I as have known them to be.

    I loved the writing. it’s sounds inspired and rich with wonder. its like eating brûlée for the first time. Madame sounds much younger than her cougar years would reveal, I guess it’s true that cappies are the Benjamin Buttons of the zodiac. then I am reminded that Nicholas Sparks (Notebook) is a cap and a great romantic storyteller.

    Madame you certainly appeal to our romantic appetites, even if it is but merely a city.

  16. lovely writing. Enjoyed it muchly.

    Love your interpretation of each country star sign, I must say, I completely agree! :) Thanks CIF **

    Sounds like an awesome time and I think I’ve gained some valuable insight into the French mannerism. Innnnneresting. I won’t be so annoyed when I am corrected.

  17. Funny thing happened to me on the way to Paris, ended up in Belgium for 2 years being served cheval & pomme frittes. Ugh, BUT French Polynesia is paradise. Someone said ‘imagine if the english had stayed’ peoples would be wearing grey & brogues’, Instead it’s flowers, pareos & strappy sandals, when they are not almost nekkid which is most of the time :-)
    I do enjoy French.
    Beautiful essay, much appreciated.

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