ON THE LOSS OF JOHNNY HALLYDAY

 

Famed blogger and neighbor Claire Beermann once asked me to tell a horror story about the loss of a piece of clothing. In honor of France's tragic loss, here it is again:

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It was a pale-blue jeans jacket, small and tight, with a Johnny Hallyday decal on the back. I found it in Paris at a junky, stinky second-hand leather jacket shop close to the Pompidou. Was it love at first sight? Of course. Aren’t all our favorite pieces that way?

It was 1994 and I was just out of college and meeting up with my half-French, half-American boyfriend in Paris for Christmas together with his family. I was living in Prague at the time, and he lived in New York. He laughed his head off when he saw what I brought home one day, saying, “You know who this is, right?” No. Of course, I had no clue about the “most famous rockstar you’ve never heard of” Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis. You see, in a total rush, I’d misread the name as Johnny Holiday, thinking, well, if there ever was a wishful doppelgaenger of me, her name would be Holiday, for sure.

I wore it for the rest of that month we spent together underneath a fur-lined Siberian Mao coat I’d found secondhand in Prague and with this long black skirt his mother had bought me for Christmas which had a black feather trim at the bottom (like Prada this season!). God, how I loved that jacket. How I miss it today! And losing it was dramatic: it was New Year’s eve and I was excited to be spending it with my beau’s French friends. Since my French was so childish, I decided that the only way for me to make friends was to greet each and every guest at the door with a shot of (still illegal back then) absinth. I blacked out before midnight and when I finally woke up, the party was petering out and heading to a bar for sunrise shots of cafe calva, espresso with cognac, or, as the Italians call it, the “correcting coffee,” caffe corretto. I was still a bit woozy, hardly in the realm of “correcting” the sins I’d inflicted on my liver, and wasn’t paying attention to the coats hanging right behind my head. Stollen! The funny thing was that I loved Serge Gainsbourg at the time, so losing the rocker Hallyday didn’t bother me so much. 

If I could remake it today, I’d put Angie Merkel instead.

(originally published at C'est Clairette, here)