A friend from university lives in Paris, so he and his wife were kind enough to pick us up at our hotel shortly after we arrived and dragged our weary corpses around the Marais for a few hours. During dinner, they warned us about the clever Gold Ring Scam.
They said the gypsy beggars approach tourists, pretending to have found a gold ring. They ask if it belongs to the tourist and of course the tourist will say no. The gypsy then offers the ring to the tourist anyway, saying kind-hearted things like they have no use for it anyway and it would look so nice on them, etc. They only want a small donation for food in exchange.
XUP Jr. and I are doing our best to blend in and not look too much like tourists — we´re wearing lots of black and the requisite scarf and we walk really fast like all the locals (I know, I know –very cool). Nevertheless, there are times when we must consult our maps or guidebook to get our bearings. And, sure enough, whenever those come out someone swoops down in front of us and finds a gold ring on the ground right at our feet.
After a few of these amazing finds yesterday, I wondered what would happen if I were to claim that the ring was actually mine. So, in the afternoon as we were strolling down the Left Bank, a little punch-drunk from having climbed the Eiffel Tower, we pulled out the guidebook to see which bridge would be best to cross to get to where we were going next.
Immediately, a swarthy young lady finds a gold ring right in front of us and asks me if it is mine. I check my finger and say, “Why yes! Thank you so much!” I put it on and start walking away. She, of course runs after me, asking for money for the ring. I ask why I should give her money for my own ring and keep walking.
Then she starts yelling at me and punching me in the arm and grabbing at my sleeve to get the ring back. Then we hear shouts from half a block behind us. Turns out she works with a posse. From what I can gather, they are frowing on her getting physical with me. So, I give her the ring back and she goes back to her gang.
We keep walking and suddenly XUP Jr. notices that the posse is heading our way rather quickly.
“Time to hoof it my child,” I say and we take off. The gang of gypsies also pick up the pace. We reach our bridge and that seems to be some sort of territorial border for them and they don’t follow.
We survive to tell the tale.
Okay, I know it was mean of me to mess with the gypsy. To make up for it I left a substantial donation in the bin by the hobo village — a makeshift collection of semi-permanent dwellings hobbled together against the wall of the Seine. (photos to follow when we get back).
Paris, by the way is everything they’ve all said it was and so much more.
PS: Postcards, for those of you who had requested them are all written and stamped and will be popped into the mail today. And Cedarflame: There was no bird poop on the Eiffel Tower for me to scrape off for you since they just re-painted it. However, I did pick up some of the paint scrapings from when they prepped the railings and will forward those instead, okay?