Sunday, June 15, 2008

Misadventures: Surrendering to the French

The first (and hopefully only) time I had automatic weapons pointed at me was in Paris, during La Fête de la Musique in 2004.

I was standing under the Eiffel Tower, of all places, when I saw a trio of French soldiers lounging a few yards away. As I had a few friends in the U.S. Army, I wanted a picture of their French counterparts for the next time they started with the French surrender jokes.

Bad idea. Very, very bad idea.

As I raised my camera, the officer turned and saw me. In a voice that boomed above the sounds of the nearby concert, he shouted, "No! No photo!"

That would have been enough for me, but the two enlisted men with him both spun, raising their rifles as they did so. The next thing I knew, I was holding both hands above my head with the camera dangling by the strap. It was a tense moment for me as I hoped I wouldn't be on the news the next day as the victim of a tragic accident. Fortunately, the two soldiers weren't trigger-happy, and left me with nothing more than severe Gallic glares.

When I told the story to my friends in the American military, they laughed.

I learned the French phrase "Ne tire pas" - just in case.


Anonymous said...

You have friends in the military?

What a pig

Brandon Darnell said...

Yes, I have friends in the military. Like the politically-motivated uses of the military or not, the men and women who make up our armed forces are rendering the rest of us a service we can never repay.

They have the courage to put on a uniform and stand up for what they believe in. To paraphrase Voltaire, they may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.

And they don't do it anonymously on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

The only reason those French guys had the guts to pull a gun on you was because they were sure you didn't have a gun yourself. Otherwise, they would have wet themselves and run home to eat some cheese.


Natalie said...

Hi! I found your blog because you left a comment on mine so I was reading some of your travel adventures. I had to comment on this post because I lived in France for 6 months during college and the same thing happened to me, except in my case the police pulled up to us while we were parked at a light (our car matched the description of a wanted car) and decide to wave guns in our faces instead of talking. It was not a fun experience. It made me appreciate America all the much more when I returned home. ;)