This weekend, I was reacquainted with a long-lost Chicago hot dog under a Coca Cola umbrella canopy at Cinema Paradiso. The Grand Palais has been transformed into an unabashed temple of Americana, including a greasy spoon, a champagne roller rink and a drive-in cinema enjoyed from the comfort of your very own Fiat. Mon mari was taking photos so I was able to easily sneak in. I got my photo taken with Barbie. The beautiful people roller-bladed circles around me. And fried food fumes wafted to the heavens of the vaulted glass ceiling.
The recovering theatre major in me begged mon mari to rent a romantic Fiat for a screening of Grease. Yes, much like you I was in Grease in high school, too. Although a humble chorus girl, I had dedicated myself devotedly to every chang chang changity chang shoo bop. If I hadn’t already been chosen by the costume design deities, I should have known my calling when I had more historically accurate costumes for myself than the elusive Sandy. Seeing the roaring, hand clapping response to a random Celine Dion song at an apero, I can attest that the French are guilty of nostalgia too, the Grease soundtrack included. Learning from experience, mon mari takes precautions when his repressed drama queen wife approaches a potential site for a Grease Lightening reprise, a room full of Fiats.
Although we skipped out on Grease, it is alright. Mon mari
distracted treated me to a Chicago hotdog, the first I’ve ever seen in Paris. All the elements were in place: the poppy seed bun, tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers, celery salt, onions, mustard, relish, and absolutely no ketchup. The over-sized hot dog drooped uncharacteristically out on both sides. Something as personal to me as a Chicago hotdog will probably be the next French food trend. Sure, it probably bought myself a few more months before going back to the States. Perhaps it is a sign of being a committed expat, but I can only take so much second-hand nostalgia for my own country. Cinema Paradiso was fun. But much like kitsch, a Chicago hotdog only sustains for so long. I carried the lingering smell of mustard and raw onions on my hands for the rest of the evening along with a longing to go back home.
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