A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost



            Very quickly I got winded and realized the futility of my plan. But I was also still angry and refused to let this crime go unpunished. Because I’m French Batman.

            I tell Scarlett, “We’re bringing the bike to our hotel room.” And she says, “No, we’re not.” And I say, “Okay, great counterpoint.” Plan B it is.

            I think, Where can I put the bike where the teen can’t retrieve it, but it will still keep charging him for the whole night?

                         I bike around until I find what looks like a construction site next to a big old building. I lift the bike over my head like a maniac and throw it over the fence into the construction area. Boom. Mission accomplished.

            Scarlett then takes a video of me walking back to her with no bike and a sadistic grin on my face. She asks, “Where did the bike go?” And I say, “Oh, nowhere special.”

            Then she walks over to the “construction site” where I threw the bike and says, “Hey…you know that’s the Musée d’Orsay, right?”

            There’s a beat. And then we both start running back to our hotel.

            The next morning, police knocked at our door and we stayed absolutely still until they went away. We didn’t leave the room for another five hours and missed almost an entire day of our vacation in Paris.

            So take that, French teens!



* * *



            —

            The saddest part of this story is: It’s not the only time I’ve been pelted with vegetables by European teenagers.

            I’ll repeat that: Euro teens have hit me with loose vegetables on multiple occasions.

            Apparently, even in Europe, I have a very punchable face.

            The first incident was in Prague in my mid-twenties. It was my first real trip to Europe, and after visiting Berlin and Rome with two friends from college, I thought, How civilized! Then we arrived in Prague. The first people we encountered were a stag party of drunk Scottish dudes who immediately started screaming the N-word for no reason at all. This was around 1 P.M., mind you, and they were about to have prostitutes for lunch.

                         My friends and I opted for a regular meal at a restaurant that I would describe as the Bubba Gump Radish Company. They served eight kinds of radishes, from “mashed” to “unseasoned” to “plain radish.” As we walked out of the restaurant, there was a group of Czech teenagers across the street, huddled around a large wooden bowl filled with potato salad. Makes sense so far, right?

            These teenagers were each about six-foot-five, 280 pounds—so the potato salad was definitely working. They were reaching into the bowl with their bare hands (size-wise, bear hands), scooping out handfuls of potato salad, and then smashing it into their enormous mouths. I thought, Is this country okay? I had always heard that Prague was “the jewel of Eastern Europe,” not “the potato sack of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.”

            As though hearing my criticism telepathically, one of the teenagers took one look at me, scooped up some potato salad, and threw it at me from across the street. Just a heaping handful of potatoes and mayonnaise (and maybe a sprig of dill) flying through the air and landing all over my shirt.

            “Heh heh,” one of them laughed, like Frankenstein. “He potato salad boy now!”

            Now, I can get very angry very fast, but I also have a keen sense of self-preservation. I looked at them, then I looked at myself and my two friends. When I am the most threatening person in a group, that group is not going to win a street fight against Czech Shreks.