Tag Archives: Paris

It’s a question of… men peeing outside

I live on a boulevard in Paris: a wide, multi-lane road with trees on each side, on which my office window has a direct view.

For a reason I have yet to elucidate the tree just in front of my window is the one men always choose to pee behind. And ‘behind’ is of course the wrong word. A tree on a boulevard is as round as anywhere else, so no matter where the peeing person stands, I get a full view of something I’d rather not.

In a week, I’ll see an average of 6,3 men peeing on that tree (yes, I count…). And I’m not just talking about the man who lives two benches down. I’m talking about office guys, delivery guys, simple going-for-a-walk guys; I’ve even seen a neighbour taking a leak there!

It goes without saying that I’ve never seen a woman doing the same. This tree is not a discreet place. There are cars passing constantly at less than one meters distance on one side and a busy sidewalk plus 12 floors of people living on the other side. Why do men pee here as often as the dogs that pass? I ask myself that every day…

Oh, I know all about the wonderful sensation of “freedom” men feel when peeing outside, I know that it’s much easier to do it without wetting yourself when you don’t have to squat, but still, why should I have to watch strangers pee outside my window? Why can’t they wait, use the public toilet or go into the café (both less than 50 meters down the street)?

Each month, 56 000 m2 of Paris are soiled by urine. One can only guess how many men pee in the streets every day to cover such a surface. My answer is: too many.

A few months ago, Susana Ferreira, a journalist from the  Wall Street Journal did a story about the “Anti-pipi Brigade”  in Paris. A lot of (non French) bloggers followed up on it. It  was after all a great story: 88 “agents de la Brigade des incivilités” roaming the French capital in the search of  street “urinaters” and handing out tickets. (I do wish they’d  visit my street, but I’ve never seen them for real).

In 2009, about 2000 tickets (with fines up to 450 €) have  been given in Paris to men relieving themselves illegally.  That’s not much compared to New York where the police have handed out over 18 500 summonses for public urination this year.

My point: I think men who pee outside are pigs. If it’s so important for their “manliness” to do it, they can let the little one out in their own garden or in some remote field. And whilst they’re at it, they might want to practice how to pee straight…

You can watch the video about the Parisian “Anti-pipi Brigade” here.

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It’s a question of… high heels

One of the (many) things my mother never succeeded in teaching me was how to walk in high heels. Or let’s just say heels, because they don’t have to be many inches or centimetres high for me to look like a drunken duck when I wear them. (I once strained my ankle badly falling in flat mules).

Mums don’t give up easily (which, generally speaking, is probably a good thing). So every now and then she still buys me a pair of high-heeled shoes I wish I could wear. I have quiet a collection ready for me to “slip on” for whenever I’m invited to a place where I never have to stand up.

I know high heels make you taller and thinner and give you a killer posture. All of which wouldn’t do me any harm. But how people actually walk in them remains a mystery to me. I for one would never criticise Victoria Beckham for anything because I’m in total awe of her extreme high heel walking talent (though I have read she’s going to need a bunion operation soon…).

A few months ago, a special Heels Academy (“Talons Academy”) opened in Paris to teach women how to walk in heels. Strangely enough there’s a course for “day heels” and another for “night heels”. Not sure what the difference is (the height assumingly?), but it’s not making things easier if you also have to adopt your walk to the time of the day! There have also been several “races in heels” going on round the world and I’ve seen videos from Sweden and Holland of “workout in heels” classes.

According to podiatrists and insurance companies though, wearing high heels is a health hazard. Thousands and thousands of women are injured every year when they fall in their stilettos and many more suffer bone deformities and long-term knee injuries. Last year, Scotland’s biggest railway stations even put up posters asking female customers not to wear high-heeled shoes because so many had slipped and tripped and hurt themselves causing havoc for other train passengers.

All this to say that despite the high heel epidemic amongst the “celebrities”, despite all those beautiful and sexy stilettos I pass every day in the shop windows, and even despite my mother’s continuing efforts to try and get me on the wagon, I won’t be wearing heels any time soon. Except maybe lying down, but that is an entirely different question.

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