“Excuse me, could we use that bench?”

My mom and I looked at each other. We looked back at the photographer, then at the groom, his arm around his bride, the entourage in tuxedos. All of them looked at us with earnest.

Mom and I looked down at our picnic. We had just finished unpacking, unwrapping, uncorking, cutting, spreading, pouring and balancing the whole affair between us on the tilted bench seat. Mom’s first baguette slice, topped with brie, and mine, topped with goat cheese, sat on our knees, waiting. Plastic cups – filled with a French white I’ve never before heard of – waited in our hands for a toast.

We looked behind us at the Eiffel Tower. Nice view. We had staked out this bench for a reason.

We looked back at them.

“Hell no!” I said. “Do you know how long it took us to get to this spot, right here? We spent the last two hours running around Montmartre trying to find a wine shop that was open on a Monday to buy THIS bottle of wine and then another hour to find a bakery to buy this silly baguette that you French are famous for, that we tourists just HAD to have, and HAD to buy your cheese to eat with this baguette and to drink with this wine out of our silly plastic cups from our hotel room that we carried around with us since this morning, along with this plastic silverware we starting saving TWO DAYS AGO from some cafe on the other side of the city, AND, besides the mad goose chase on foot to find all this crap, we took 8 metro trains to get here, probably a half dozen more than we needed to because I misread the map and we ran out of tickets and I might be exaggerating now but even if I am, you’re going to find your own damn bench to sit on, because this bench – so exquisitely set with our picnic of French clichés, so perfectly located in front of the Eiffel Tower – this bench, monsieur, is OURS.”

They stared at us…

…waiting for an answer.

Because I didn’t actually say any of that.

Instead, I gave them a puppy look. “You see, we’re really sorry, but we just started here…”

They tromped off.

“Ohh,” I whined. “Now I feel like a total jerk.”
“They’ll find their own bench,” said Mom.

Finders, keepers. C’est la vie.

We toasted.

With our plastic cups. ☼