La Grosse Bouteille

September 11, 2002 -5:30 p.m.

There's a big red bottle on the roof of this place, which seemed like a good enough reason for me to come here to write. There is a park across the street -- the green space that runs from the Canal St-Martin to Bastille -- and though the street here is occasionally full of cars, they are not making too much noise.

My tabletop is square, yellow, and criscrossed with wavy, intersecting lines. There is a loud, unruly group in the corner, and people join and leave the group at regular intervals. The patron said something to me, probably related to my sitting here writing for so long, but I didn't understand anything except the end "pas dix," which could be "not ten" or "step ten" or maybe I misheard him altogether. French is a funny, minimalist language with not nearly enough distinct sounds. You have a whole bunch of people talking endlessly because they can only understand each other in context. It's not conducive to making up original sentences, because the French ear is so accustomed to hearing the same sequences of sounds. Don't get me wrong. I like French, especially in its written form. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm just bitter because they didn't invent a language that was easier for me to learn. Go figure.

My espresso came in a brown cup with matching saucer; the sugar cubes came in a black and red packet. The ashtray is round clear glass with four notches for cigarettes. I wonder if four people have ever used all four notches simultaneously. Probably not.

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La Grosse Bouteille
Metro: Richard Lenoir

Price of an espresso: 1.30
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes

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