Referring to the tragic Notre-Dame fire, the “lost” in my title isn’t about a spiritual loss. It’s about “lost” as in “How the hell do I get back to my hotel?!” I shall explain but first, during the fire, Trump ignorantly tweeted,  “Flying water tankers should be used quickly!” except French officials confirmed it could have led to “A total collapse of the cathedral!” Duh.  Now back to my perplexing lost in Paris predicament.

In 1988,  my then wife and I visited the elegant “city of lights” where our Left Bank hotel room had a breath-taking view of Notre-Dame.  We had arrived around midnight and took a cab to our hotel. With only high school French, I sheepishly volunteered to our cab driver “I don’t really speak French.” His comeback was, “If you don’t speak French, how are we having this conversation?” Touche.

Our small hotel was quaint, and our room was charming, being above a bakery and across the street from an open air farmer’s market. With the aroma of fresh baking in the air, the ambiance was so classically Parisian all that was missing was a sound track of Edith Piaf.

Invigorated, I asked my wife to go for a midnight stroll but she was too tired. However, she was so excited just to be in Paris, she wanted to write post cards and asked if I would go buy some. Since it was her insistence and planning we even took the trip, I was happy to do so. (But not happy for long.)

As I walked by the spectacular Notre-Dame, suddenly the huge doors opened as it was the end of midnight mass. Like a deer in headlights, I was temporarily frozen by the oncoming crowd of parishioners.

Suddenly I came face to face with a beautiful 20-something French girl who was weeping. We momentarily locked eyes. I was intrigued by her tears, not to mention her beauty,  but I politely got out of her way and let her pass.

Moments later, I turned around. Overcome with tears, she had stopped walking. As people rushed by she seemed so terribly alone. Even in my limited French, I thought maybe I should at least ask if I could help.

As I started toward her, she momentarily regained her composure and continued to walk. As I followed from a distance, she soon sat on a bench, covered her face with her hands and began crying again.  I debated what to do but she finally got up and disappeared into the distance. As I watched, I hoped there was truth in the old saying “Crying is good for the soul.”

Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized this “pursuit” had taken left and right turns. So it was that, as I looked around, something ominous suddenly dawned on me. I was completely lost. Merde! (Excuse my French. Hey, when French people swear do they say, “Excuse my English?)

Calmly, I tried to retrace my steps by returning to Notre Dame and crossing the bridge to what I hoped was the Left Bank. But after two attempts, I didn’t recognize a thing and now I was anything but calm.

Odd as it sounds, I decided to buy post cards so that if something ill-fated happened to me, my wife would at least think it occurred during a noble cause.(And NOT because I had been intrigued by a beautiful, weeping French woman.)

I found a vendor selling post cards which was fortuitous. But I kept imagining my poor wife, alone in our hotel room, being worried sick. So I kept returning to Notre-Dame and walking a different direction away from it. I don’t know how but on one such attempt, I suddenly thought I recognized a tailor’s shop. Finally relief overcame me as, in the distance,  I saw our hotel. Voila! (Pun intended)

When I rushed into our hotel room my super organized wife had just finished unpacking. I quickly interjected, “Before you get mad, let me explain what happened.” “Mad about what?” she asked innocently. “Didn’t you wonder what happened to me?” “Oh, I guess. I was busy unpacking.  Did you get the postcards?”

As she happily glanced through the postcards, I recounted all about Notre-Dame, the beautiful French girl weeping and my getting lost. It was obvious she hadn’t been the least bit  worried. But she also wasn’t the least bit jealous. (One out of two ain’t bad.) “These postcards are perfect,” she said as she gave me a kiss.

Cut to the day of the fire. My ex and I exchanged emails, sadly lamenting the devastating damage done to Notre-Dame. (And also lamenting the divisive damage Trump has done to our country’s psyche.)

As for my being “lost” in Paris, all I can say about the story described above is, “C’est vrai.”

Jack is at:, and

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  1. What the hell was the last comment doing in the story regarding Trump? I think I’m reading a story about the fire at Notre Dame and you throw that irrelevant snipe in. I bet you think you are progressive. You’re an idiot.

  2. I understand what you wrote about Notre Dame de Paris. I travel extensively and when going to Western Europe I usually fly into CDG airport, that way I get two visits to Paris – when going, then when returning. I am not religious, but to visit the cathedral is a must for me. I usually enter and sit on a pew near the entry and gaze the length of the nave toward the altar. It is big, it is somber, it has history, it is overpowering, the weight of Western civilization rests on its columns. If I, a person from the twentieth century, am overawed, then consider how it must have affected the medieval worshipers and peasants eight hundred years ago. To them, it was a spaceship to heaven. I feel bereaved as though I have lost a part of myself.

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