Le Byzantin

June 23, 2002 - 11:30 a.m.

The twin sets of lamps on each fixture above have yellow shades imprinted with ancient maps. The radio plays easy-listening pop songs, including "Ebony and Ivory," among others. I guess this is where the prostitutes come on break -- there have been a disproportionate number of slightly overly-sexily-dressed women entering into the place. "Goodbye Norma Jean" is playing now on the radio, which somehow seems appropriate. The rue St. Denis is visible from where I'm sitting, and the women who have been in view leaning and sitting along that street haven't been having much success in whatever they are endeavoring at.

Earlier a man trotted his gargantuan long-haired freak of a dog past here. It looked less like a dog than an oversized muppet of a dog. It looked like a person inside of a costume, which made it all the more disturbing when the thing proceeded to urinate on the bus stop. In sharp contrast, a woman just crossed the street with two little dogs on intertwined leashes -- these dogs look like overfed rodents.

A French version of the song "Morning Train" just finished playing. The words seem to be different, though the tune is exactly the same. I didn't catch most of the lyrics, but it seemed the phrase "morning train" had been replaced by "cigarette," which makes for a very different song indeed, I think, no matter what the rest of the words are.

Some dogs are just plain ugly, like the bulldog that was recently walked by. Why would someone want to look at a thing like that every day, much less parade it around in public? The next dog resembled a long-haired gray and black anteater. It very well could have been an anteater for all I know. Its nose wasn't quite long enough, but it had the walk down and had that ant-eating gleam in its eye as it strained against the leash to get its head closer to the ground so that it could better search out its prey.

I guess I could go on all day about the songs that play (we just had "Sounds Of Silence") and the dogs that pass by. I should mention that the table is nice wood, round with the number 21 implanted on one edge by way of a little metallic disk. My espresso came with two blue tubes of powdered sugar, and the ashtray on my table is goofy-shaped white plastic of the Kronenbourg variety. The chairs are wood with green seat cushions. The chairs and tables out in front of the café are of inferior quality, slate black tables and gold and red cane wicker chairs. The ashtrays on the outside tables are aluminum. A bearded man in a motorized wheelchair has just pulled up to one of those tables and ordered a Coke.

No dogs in sight now, just questionable top-heavy women on the rue St. Denis.

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Le Byzantin
Metro: Strasbourg-St. Denis

Price of an expresso: 1.90 euros
Sugar: two tubes of powdered sugar

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