L'Equipe's 60th Birthday Party

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Last night I went to L’Equipe’s 60th anniversary party. It’s the French sports paper, which also runs its own magazine. The party was hilarious, gigantic and filled with obscure sports celebrities.

First, I have to say that I hadn’t slept much the night before and was bothered by an unusually vivid dream. In the dream, I lived and worked in a gigantic warehouse space that I shared with others. This isn’t the first time I’ve dreamt that I lived in a huge warehouse where each room was a playground for the twenty/thirty something: a slanted wall dollhouse done in slightly less than human proportions, or Japanese mime artists kicking soccer balls against tuned chandeliers, thus playing some kind of crushed glass symphony. This time, in my dream, my downstairs neighbour complained that the Japanese orchestra in my room was tapping their feet too loud. As I ran to the lift to go up to my floor, I met a boy. He was enormous, really tall, a kind of double-sized Rhett Butler with a vaguely Russian face (ahhh, Marat Safin!). Then I woke up anxious and was unable to sleep again.

So, with this in mind, imagine a half-sleepy slightly anxious girl in her best party clothes, taking a train to the other side of town for a party with the sports obsessed. I was so groggy and nervous that I barely managed to swallow a mouthful of the sashimi with shaved coconut, the tapenade and eggplant sandwiches, the mountains of shrimp, the flying pastas, the row upon row of cheeses, the roast beef and mashed potatoes, the apartment size table of cakes, tarts and desserts. I ate hardly a bite before developing a permanent station in front of the far end of one of the five bars. There, because it was suppose to be healthy and sane, people were drinking Perrier and orange juice, instead of the wine and champagne available. I busted out a cigarette and tossed back the champagne. Already, the decadence and the bubbly were waking me up. Pretty soon after, I started conversations with complete strangers.

Somewhere during the night I managed to shake hands with Mark Madiot, head trainer of Les Francais des Jeux, a cycling team, Henri Pescarolo, famous car driver, wave affectionately at a surprised Laurent Jalabert, famous cyclist, glance warily at the head coach of Lyon, Gérard Houiller, and scream in the general direction of Ladji Doucouré, current men’s hurdles world champion. I also managed to corner the editor of Vélo Magazine by my erudite questions on cycling. “Did you notice that most of the teams have cited the Tour de France as their target this year? Don’t you think that’s interesting?” “Between the two of us, who do you think is going to win the Tour?” “Don’t you think cycling is a Nietzschean sport?”

In the end, my corner was filled with Vélo Mag journalists, circling around this girl with her vaguely figure skating dress, being taken for turns round the dance floor by various different men. I was so flat out drunk that I missed the part where my husband danced in the arms of the managing editor of Vélo Mag and made everyone uneasy with his non-stop cackling at a cake covered zeppelin circling the room.

I can’t really remember how we managed to get out in one piece, but wow, what a fun party. If only I was an aspiring journalist, what a job I could have milked.