The two French women sitting at the table next to mine are having an intense discussion about the movie they have just seen (there is a theater very close by). Before they arrived, a French man sat down there and started talking to me while I was trying to write. I told him I was American and my French wasn't that good (which is somewhat redundant, I guess), and he asked if I was writing down my memories of Paris. He also asked if I was from Texas (maybe because of my denim shirt?) and said that American poets writing in Paris were usually from Texas. Right. We talked for a little while, and he encouraged me to speak in French while asking me to help him a bit with his English. He tried to get two young women sitting at a nearby table to talk to us (would they help an American practice his French?), but they politely refused. From time to time he would check his watch to make sure he didn't miss his movie. It was just a watch face, actually, without the band. Classy guy. He asked me how old I was, and when I said thirty-three, he said he was the same age. And after that little age-bonding moment, he finished his hand-rolled cigarette and ran to catch his movie.
The tables here are square, wooden, and the chairs are wood with dark red seat cushions. The ashtrays are blue plastic and say "I'm burning for you," in French. My espresso came with a packet of sugar cubes.
One of the women at the adjacent table (these two are in their fifties, maybe) is giving her opinion of films and entertainment in general. Good films (and music and theater, etc) allow a person to dream; they challenge the imagination. Daily life is hard, and everyone knows it. The purpose of entertainment is to allow us to see something extraordinary and escape the day-to-day world.
The place is busy, crowded with people. It's quickly darkening outside, and the people out there look cold. A man sitting with a large group outside tucks his hands into the ends of his grey turtleneck sweater and crosses his arms in an attempt to keep warm. The front doors of the café are propped open, and it's even getting a little cold in here.
The opinionated woman is now demanding she pay for her friend's tea. "Don't worry about it!," she exclaims. Her friend protests a bit and then gives in. The first woman starts rummaging through her change and one of the coins prompts her to say, "Hey, this one is German, right?"
Metro: Place d'Italie
Phone: 01 43 31 19 86
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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