Emily in Paris’s Year of Rest and Relaxation

I.

Whenever I woke up, I would throw something on––usually a dress with a bow the size of a dead pig on the front––stumble downstairs to the Starbucks on Boulevard Saint-Michel, and order two venti black coffees in my most broken French. “DUH CAFFEY!” I screamed.

I drank both coffees on the way home, avoiding my phone. “You’re in Paris,” Camille would be texting me. “Come on, Emily, let’s go out, you’re in PARIS!”

“You’re in Paris,” I said to myself, taking my Trazodone and melatonin. “You’re in Paris,” I mumbled, falling back asleep on my sweat-stained Paris Je T’Aime cashmere throw.

II.

At this point in my hibernation, I was still running social for luxury products at Savoir, trying to get fired so that I would have more time to sleep.

I would come in at 3 P.M., wearing purple crocodile fingerless gloves, a sequined Chicago Cubs beret, and a gigantic Louis Vuitton belt, and pitch the most off-putting campaigns I could think of.

I pitched a TV spot in which a woman reeks so badly that her smell becomes embodied by a slime-green “Monsieur Stench,” who hounds her until one day three bottles of Maison Lavaux perfume show up and beat him with golf clubs.

For Rimowa Luggage I made a TikTok promising a free carry-on set to anyone who posted a credible bomb threat featuring a Samsonite bag.

When Pierre Cadault asked us to promote his spring line for American customers, I pitched an industrial slaughterhouse filled with pieces from the fall/winter line squealing and oinking as they were led to the pen by select pieces from the spring line.

“I live to work,” I said in response to Sylvie’s disapproving look.

III.

I thought that if I slept enough I might become a better person. Maybe if I took enough NyQuil, Trazodone, and Infermiterol I could kill off the part of Emily who said things like “Hashtag: oh, crêpe,” the Emily whose favorite “hidden gem” in Paris was the Louvre.

I wasn’t sure, but I had to try.

IV.

I stopped posting on my @emilyinparis Instagram account but my follower count still grew—inexplicably, disturbingly––like a house fire. Like a tumor.

V.

When Sylvie finally fired me, we both already knew it was over.

She came to ask me about my Instagram Reel for our luxury dog-food campaign. I had said that we had fifty dogs in our office and were committed to “putting the littlest doggie down every day our snacks stayed on the shelves.”

“I hope I was a valuable member of the team,” I said, to no one, as I walked home in a well-oiled leather bucket hat, Terry de Havilland heels, and Velcro cargo shorts.

VI.

Camille loved seeing me like this; I had been pursuing her boyfriend, Gabriel, from the moment I arrived. “S’il te plaît, let’s go out tonight, Emily,” she said, stepping over six months of McDonald’s wrappers.

“I like Paris. I’m just not sure Paris likes me,” I said, trying to pout and instead drooling onto the floor.

VII.

In the winter, I started to black out. In those dark spots, the old Emily took her revenge.

I woke up jogging along the Seine, listening to Halsey. I woke up in Les Galeries Lafayette stocking up on more bucket hats. I woke up getting my caricature drawn in Montmartre, wearing seventeen different, clashing floral prints.

I checked my Instagram and saw myself kissing Nicolas Sarkozy on the cheek at a launch event for a new lipstick, looking manically happy. I had twelve million followers.

VIII.

A text from Gabriel: “How is my sleeping beauty? ;)”

I deleted his number from my phone, heaped dish soap on the cast-iron pan he’d given me, threw it in the trash, and fell asleep again.

IX.

I couldn’t sleep anymore. My head was pounding. I looked in the mirror––my skin was a fluorescent yellow.

911 didn’t work on my Paris phone. I tried to call my ex-boyfriend in Chicago, but I couldn’t remember his name. My face was cold; maybe I was crying.

My knees buckled and I fell. I fell through darkness, through clouds of Lavaux perfume that stung my eyes, through piles of baguettes and croissants and bucket hats, I fell toward a giant painting of Sylvie, but really she was the Mona Lisa, and I fell through her left nostril, where I landed on a cast-iron pan cooking an omelette made of blue dish soap. Now the bubbles were rising from the pan, and I was being spread onto a crêpe made out of human skin, and I was the Vaga-Jeune topping, promoting vaginal wetness as the crêpe folded shut and darkness took over entirely.

X.

Then, finally, it was over.

I deleted my Instagram account. I used my giant silk bow-dresses to mop up grease from my floor and threw them out. I threw all nine hundred of my oversized berets in the trash and purchased a new, practical wardrobe from thrift stores.

I bought some falafel and walked to the river. I had never been happier. “This city looks like ‘Ratatouille,’ ” I said. ♦

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