L'Etoile Europeenne

December 8, 2002 - 3:00 p.m.

A very scruffy-looking black poodle just walked through, its hair so long and shaggy that a whole coat could be made if it were to be sheared. Sitting down, it looks like a black mountain of fur with a little head on top. Now it's come over to say hello and put its feet up on the chair across from me and its nose in my empty sugar cube packet. I try not to evince any fear as I pull my cup and saucer away from it -- the dog cannot help but look menacing considering the fact that its profuse amount of hair causes it to look three times its normal size. If it was yellow and had a lion's head instead of a poodle head, everyone would be running for the hills.

When I came in, the waiter -- who was not dressed like a waiter -- warned me that the section I was eyeing was a non-smoking section. Strangely enough, the non-smoking section looked like the most comfortable section in the place, the only part of the café with sofa seats, so I told him it was okay. Later, a group of people came into the place and sat down in the same section. When they started to smoke, the waiter -- who still did not look like a waiter, I kept imagining he would finally sit down at some point and order something himself -- politely informed them that they were in a non-smoking section. Then he gave a nod towards me as if they should put out their cigarettes for my benefit, as I had obviously chosen this section to escape their filthy habit. I wanted to tell them it was okay, I was just here for the comfy seating, but they stopped smoking without too much fuss, and at the moment are just sitting around looking glumly at each other.

NOTE: Finally the men in the group got up and went over to the bar counter where they could smoke in peace.

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L'Etoile Europeenne
178 rue de Bagnolet
75020 Paris
Metro: Porte de Bagnolet
Phone: 01 40 30 29 09

Price of an espresso: 1.50 euros
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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