Behind me is a large room, delicately lit by cylindrical lights hanging from wall hooks and lights with more traditional-shaped lampshades hanging overhead, the bulbs a subtle wattage, the shades criscrossed with metal cracks that actually compose the frames for the lampshades. A steady dance beat pulses quietly. The tables are all round, maroon or red, the chairs all mahogany wood with round seats and curved backs.
In front of me, through open window-doors that frame my sides, is a street busy with cars and pedestrians. The tables are the same outside, but the chairs are wicker, with red and tan plastic caning. Two women (in their early twenties) sit between me and the street, both with sunglasses and both with relatively long hair, though one's hair is loose (she is wearing a long-sleeved brown top and elaborate earrings) and the other's is wrapped tight in a braid at the back (her hair is lighter and a little shorter, and she wears a short-sleeved yellow top). They both smoke.
A man and women (fifties?) sit nearby. No doubt tourists because the man got up to take a picture of his wife with a camera that had a larger than usual lens. He's lumbered off somewhere, while his wife in her wire-frame sunglasses and greying short hair sits and watches the pedestrians as though she were at a tennis match. Now he's come back ,and they start to walk down the street towards my left, moving out of view. The waiter in white shirt and black pants comes immediately and clears off their table -- he has a perennial sour look upon his face but otherwise resembles a young Jerry Lewis. Now a new waiter has arrived in the same outfit, but he has a lighter skin color, hair clipped shorter, more chest showing because of an extra open shirt button, and glasses.
A thin Asian woman, all vertical lines, walks by wearing a black top hat. Another woman walks by pushing a stroller with a baby tied to her front with what appears to be a complex network of scarves that wrap around her.
Another tourist couple, fiftyish, have sat down directly in front of me. They are each studying their own maps of the city and then trying to match them up with each others.
My espresso came in a relatively large turquoise cup subtly angled to have twelve sides. It sits in a dark peach saucer. It came with a packet of sugar cubes and a gloomy look from the waiter who had to ask the tourists sitting behind me (in English) to let him through so that he could approach my table.
The couple in front of me (that is not them in the photo) have put their maps away and are quietly looking down the street in opposite directions, the man with a small beer in front of him, the woman with a glass of white wine. She is smoking a cigarette, her sunglasses resting on top of her head, nestled in a bed of short, chestnut-colored hair.
4-6 rue de Rivoli
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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