“The City of Light in the Dark” Summary
For over a year now, Sedaris has lived in Paris, and instead of visiting famous landmarks or cultural institutions, he spends most of his free time going to the movies. When people visit him from the United States, he draws up elaborate itineraries showing all the movies they could see in theaters around the city. His guests, however, are more interested in visiting Paris’s museums and cathedrals, saying, “I didn’t come all the way to Paris so I can sit in the dark.”
People often tell Sedaris that it’s “wasteful” to spend all his time in Paris at the movie theater watching American films: “You could do that back home,” they argue. Sedaris, however, believes that this is incorrect. Video rentals may have “killed the American revival house,” but in Paris, people prefer to watch movies—both old and new—on the big screen. This means that there are easily 250 films playing around Paris at any given time, many of them in English with amusingly inaccurate French subtitles.
Sedaris wonders why he bothered to learn French when the phrase he uses the most seems to be “One place, please, ”the phrase one uses to buy a ticket at French movie theaters. In New York, he went to the movies three or four times a week, but in Paris, he goes six or seven times a week. He attributes this to his being “too lazy to do anything else” but believes that much of the world seems to be as lazy as he is, as watching a film is now considered as intellectual as reading a book.
Sedaris’s habits are encouraged by the sheer number of movie theaters in Paris. With over a dozen located within walking distance of his apartment—both multiplexes showing new movies and tiny revival houses screening old classics—his choice of activity couldn’t be easier. Sedaris still isn’t sure why it’s customary to tip the person who tears one’s ticket in the lobby in French theaters, but he so appreciates the “mom-and-pop” movie houses he frequents that he would happily tip the projectionist too.
Unlike American movie theaters, Parisian theaters typically only offer a small...
(The entire section is 541 words.)