A couple of months after the lost museum of lost and found, I was on my way back to Paris from Madrid when en route to the railway station, a shuttle bus thief gang stole my suitcase. This is the second time in nine months this has happened (the last suitcase was nicked by a Scottish train robber) and I’ve suddenly found myself without underwear. It’s very disorienting to lose all your underwear in the wink of an eye. You feel buoyant, but not in the sense of optimistic. Just buoyant in the sense of jiggly. And I reckon even Marilyn would have agreed with me that jiggling body parts are not necessarily always a girl’s best friend (though they can be handy for a career as the world’s biggest bombshell). And in the suitcase were also my swoonsome red leather boots, which I’m wearing in the photo below as I pour feathers over my head in a metal thing that is called Nido, a sculpture by a fab octogenarian Brazilian artist, more of whom anon. Nido means nest in Spanish – I don’t know why she didn’t give it the Portuguese name, maybe she doesn’t like ninho, or thinks people might confuse that with the Spanish niño (child); it’s true the Nido doesn’t look like a child, well, maybe a spaceship’s child)… :
So now I was bootless on a midnight suburban Paris (these type of trains are called RERs) railway platform. All the other shuttle bus passengers got on the train to Paris while I sobbed on a bench. The stationmaster was a dear man who was terribly apologetic and rushed off to get the police, telling me not to move. I phoned my boyfriend to tell him what had happened, but his mobile wasn’t working and so I called his house phone. It was answered by his mad mathematician of a house guest who was staying with him for a few days. This guy is like Sheldon the physicist from the Big Bang Theory, without Sheldon’s occasional expeditions into the world of reasonable human interaction. He told me that he’d never heard of me and that he doubted I was my boyfriend’s girlfriend. Being told you might not exist by a crazy mathematician when you’ve lost your suitcase and you’re weeping in a station that isn’t even Grand Central is no fun. I told him that the cat whom my boyfriend had been visiting every day while I was away was my cat; I told him I knew he was a mathematician in town for a conference; I told him I knew he and my boyfriend had been meaning to go to the Paris Sewer Museum that day but hadn’t had time…none of this convinced him. Now I was a telepathic non-person. Then the stationmaster came back with the police and I had weepingly to witter on about bus thieves and underwear whilst wondering whether my boyfriend had a parallel existence as someone else’s boyfriend. The stationmaster was so worried about me that he asked the train driver if I could travel in his cabin back to Paris, ensuring I wouldn’t have to undergo unpleasant interactions with any of the witching hour ghouls who were the only other travellers on the last train. So I ended up racketing through a blade-runnerish night, all sudden neon and indecipherable alien sounds, with a friendly train driver, who told me about an old lady who left a plastic bag filled with 30,000 euros in 5 euro notes on one of the trains. She wandered the tracks for days, moaning for her money like Edward Lear’s Lady for her Yonghy-Bonghy Bo. In the dark of the cabin, on my high flip-down seat, shaking slightly in shock, I was nevertheless aware that her predicament was probably worse than mine. Still, the RER trains that link Paris to its suburbs are so long they barely seem to have ends, so to be in the very front of one feels kind of avant garde – unorthodox and experimental, like the dictionary says – but never more so when you’ve just lost your underwear, maybe your boyfriend, and maybe even your mind. When I arrived at Gare du Nord I was met by my boyfriend who explained that his house guest was a bizarre person who had confused me with the person whose cat my boyfriend was sitting, i.e. he had confused me…with me. I bet even Sartre never had to deal with that.