A couple of housekeeping items to check off right up front: (1) I thought about titling this post, “Boobs & Butts,” but that seemed kind of tacky for a family blog; and (2) “Tab” is British slang for a cigarette. These two topics, breasts and smoking, don’t really have much in common, but I’m combining them in one post because … why not?

A shocking number of people in Paris are still smoking cigarettes. Old, young and in-between. It’s one thing that seems not to have changed at all in the 40 years since my first visit here. I can’t believe it. Apparently, after declining for many years, smoking rates are actually going up in France. They smoke while walking down the street, riding their scooters, standing outside of buildings and on all the restaurant and café patios. It’s pervasive. I fear for the future of the universal health care system here. There is a very large cochon in that public health python. Okay, enough ranting from the lady with the master’s in public health. Let’s talk tits.

We went to a show at the Moulin Rouge, y’all! Steve was decidedly unenthusiastic about my plan to go to the famous cabaret, but he took one for Team Carlin and agreed to go. I love the artwork of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, especially the posters he made for the Moulin Rouge and his paintings of the dancers, and have always wanted to visit. The venue is not too far from our Paris apartment, so I got tickets to a show and we went last week.

I have lived in a sorority house and been in the YMCA women’s locker room on a busy day, but I have never, ever, ever seen so many breasts on display in one place at one time. It was wall-to-wall hooters. Also feathers, elaborate headdresses, g-strings, tons of sparkly jewelry, stockings, gaudy makeup, flashing lights, high kicks and lots of outfits that one would expect to see in “a tart’s boudoir,” to borrow a phrase from Lady Mary Crawley of Downtown Abbey. There were some male dancers, too, but they weren’t that good, they weren’t that good-looking, and it’s just as well that they didn’t have Chippendale’s-type moves or outfits. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure why they bothered. No one goes to the Moulin Rouge for the men. The dancing girls and the bouncing boobs are what put the you-know-whats in the seats.

Curiously, there were also a few non-dance acts. One woman wearing nothing but a thong and a smile got into a glass-sided swimming pool with actual snakes. Then there was a pair doing tricks on roller skates, and three guys doing feats of strength that the Cirque du Soleil fellas can only dream about. It all looked so dangerous that I stopped breathing a few times. One of the snakes tried to slither out of the glass pool, and the people seated closest to the stage got audibly nervous.

Speaking of the audience, Steve and I were seated next to a couple from Atlanta. The husband proudly told us that they catch a show at the Moulin Rouge every time they visit Paris. What sort of husband takes his wife to a burlesque show over and over again? I’ll tell you who. The man reminded me of Charlie Croker, the protagonist in Tom Wolfe’s second novel, A Man in Full. If you have read it, you know exactly what I mean. If not, picture an aging, Trumpy, overleveraged commercial real estate bro in Atlanta who is facing bankruptcy and has no idea what his wife or ex-wife or any other woman thinks about anything.

Yes, I did drag my spouse to the show, too, but it was only once and Steve bore up bravely amidst the onslaught of feathers, glitter and toplessness. At least there was no smoking inside the theater.