Rendez-Vous with the Real French Navy

Sometimes living in New York is just surreal. My friend who works for the French consulate invited me to a cocktail reception aboard the helicopter carrier Jeanne D’Arc, a French Navy training ship that was doing its last worldwide tour of duty before being retired.

I wore a pinstriped blazer, black heels (despite being warned in an email not to, because one had to climb many ladders to get to the deck where the reception was, but I knew these would be French people, which meant the women would all be in heels), and carried a handbag I bought at Monoprix for 20 euro, figuring I’d look the part in my own American way. And yes, I hummed the Camera Obscura song all day.

My grandfathers served in the American navy and I had to laugh at myself, me who hates war, living it up aboard a ship (albeit, not an American one). It was pretty great to climb down ladders and through hatches, to drink a coke and avoid that weird, electric blue, menthalated syrup drink that the French love as the sun cast evening rays over Manhattan.

Even if the event was way too crowded and there was no where near enough food or drinks, I wouldn’t trade being served hors d’oeuvres by a French sailor for anything. And I still need to procure one of those stripey shirts that they wear…

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