Le Relais d'Antin

June 24, 2002 - 2:30 pm

A tiny little place on one of the quieter streets of the neighborhood. All the inside tables are set for lunch, and I am sitting at one of the four round light-brown outside tables whose tops have faint topographic patterns. Two children's clothing stores and a children's shoe store are across the street.

My coffee cup was rather full, but the espresso seemed as if it had been diluted a bit with dishwater. The sugar cube packet looked familiar, with the same blue Gili Islands I saw a few days ago. This one had only one oversized cube in it as well, as if sugar is an all or nothing affair in the Indian Ocean region.

My ashtray is green plastic, a little three-leaf clover sits above the second letter "r" in the name Carlsberg. For some reason the man who works here just put an upside-down red pay plate on my table, perhaps to remind himself that I've already paid. (There was no actual paper receipt involved in the payment process, for which I am sure the trees are grateful.) I don't believe there are any other customers here at the moment, unless they are hidden inside beyond the limits of my sight.

The outside chairs are black plastic. The sun has moved just enough so that it is no longer reflecting off the windows of the car parked across the street and into my eyes. A man in an off-white sweater just walked by carrying a green plastic basket containing several grapefruit-type objects. I don't hear any music. Scratch that, the sounds of hip hop are now emanating from some unseen boom box or car stereo farther down the street.

Earlier, someone flicked a cigarette out of one of the windows above, and it struck my table. I guess the awning is not quite big enough to provide ample protection from such things. Now there is a rain of cigarette butts a few feet away from me as someone in one of the upstairs apartments decides to clean out his ashtray the easy way.

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Le Relais d'Antin
Metro: Havre-Caumartin

Price of an expresso: 1.5 euros
Sugar: packet with one jumbo sugar cube

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