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Humor January 2015

Ernie's World

Getting High in Paris

By Ernie Witham

It was a misty morning in Paris, and even though I get vertigo when I wear shoes with actual heels, I was determined that I was going up La Tour d’Eiffel. I’d already been up the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, the Sears Tower, and the ski lift on Bunny Run, so this was just one more conquest.

When I was a kid one of my favorite toys was an erector set. Screws, nuts, wrenches, sharp edges, bloody fingers, and the opportunity to use colorful new words learned on the elementary school playground. What more could a boy want? But no matter how many times I built a structure, carefully refining my techniques each go around, it always fell apart.

These thoughts crossed my mind as I stood in line at the base of the Eiffel Tower – the ultimate erector set. How many skinned knuckles had this thing taken?

“You’re going to get a kink in your neck again,” my wife said. “Like that time you tried bird watching.”

I put my hand on the back of my head and forced it back down into a level position, causing a few people to grimace at the popping and snapping sounds of my vertebrae.

“You know this was built in 1889? By a guy named Eiffel? How’s that for a coincidence?”

My wife was about to comment when I spotted something on the ground. A washer! “Oh-oh!” I said, quickly looking up again. Dozens of others looked up expecting to see someone plummeting to their death.

My wife looked at the item. “That’s not a washer, it’s a euro.”

“Oh wow you’re right.” I held it up. “No need to worry, folks.” There were a number of French comments, which sounded vaguely like the words I learned on the playground.

It was a misty morning in Paris, and even though I get vertigo when I wear shoes with actual heels, I was determined that I was going up La Tour d’Eiffel. I’d already been up the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, the Sears Tower, and the ski lift on Bunny Run, so this was just one more conquest. Unfortunately, today there was a sign above the ticket booth indicating the top was closed. Was it was closed for repairs? I checked the “euro” I found again.

Turns out they close the top when it gets too crowded, so they don’t have to use copious amounts of butter on people – like they do everything else in France – in order for them to move about.

But we could still get to the second floor, which is about a third of the way up the 1063-foot structure. My wife, who hadn’t been all that excited to go up the thing in the first place – especially since I had wondered aloud about the effects of rust on a 115-year-old metal structure – seemed relieved. And I have to admit I was okay with it myself. Probably wouldn’t have to worry so much about nosebleeds on the second level.

When we finally made it to the ticket counter the guy in front of us said: “Oh look, the sign just changed.”

“Deux billets,” my wife said.

“Sommet?” the kiosk lady asked.

“We want to up the tower,” I said, wondering what she thought we were in line for. Crepes?

“You realize we are now going all the way to the ‘summit,’ right?”

“Ahh...” I wobbled. “Great.”

I’m not sure what the record is for the most tourists you can fit in an elevator, but we must have been close to breaking it. Fortunately, the first elevator only goes to the second level. Then you get on a smaller one for the top. It has windows all around, so that you can see every girder, bolt and nut whiz by as you climb and climb and climb.

“This is great, huh?” I squeaked out.

“Swell,” my wife said. Her eyes were closed.

It was a bit crowded at the top. I think they were having a two-for-one foreign tourist special. But the views were so amazing we quickly forgot the ants below were actually people. We took photos from all four sides then headed back down.

This time we stopped on the first level where they had an added feature – a glass floor. It’s like you are standing on nothing. Or so I imagine. I tried to do it, but my feet wouldn’t let me.

“What’s next?” I asked my wife.

“Some place on the ground,” she said. “That serves alcoholic beverages.”

“Tres Bien!”

 

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