Le Royal Jussieu

September 22, 2002 - 10:30 p.m.

We have the oldies station "Nostalgie" playing in the background, and Abba has just finished singing "Waterloo." The main entertainment for the evening, however, was an old French woman standing in the middle of the café (a rather large place with plentiful customers on this Sunday night) talking loudly to no one in particular. I had passed her earlier when I exited the bathroom, and she talked all the way into the ladies room. It was as if she couldn't exhale without words coming out.

She's gone now, and I'm not sure what she was saying for the most part, though I did hear something about Christmas and "if I'm still alive." For a while it seemed she was listing her favorite songs. The English-speaking couple sitting in front of me started videotaping her and she came over and mugged for the camera, mouth still in action. She gave a little salute, pulled flowers out of her pocket, spoke in French though they didn't know French, and asked them if they were American, English, Australian or Canadian. They repeated "Australian."

Earlier, when the waiter asked the couple if they had chosen what they wanted to order, they said "What?" Then they ordered very slowly, in English. The woman also asked for ice water from the tap, and the man eventually requested a diet Coke. Behind me I could hear another English-speaking couple, with a pronounced British accent.

My beige tabletop is shaped like an arched doorway, flat end to the window; wooden chairs with tan cushioned seats and little arms reaching out hug the other three sides. There's a Heineken ashtray, and I was given packet of sugar cubes with my espresso.

Behind me to my left is a virtual tennis video game and a Monster Bash pinball machine; directly to my left is the bar. As people leave, the waiter calls out in English, "Thank you, goodbye!"

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Le Royal Jussieu
1 rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris
Metro: Jussieu
Phone: 01 46 33 51 95

Price of an espresso: 1.80 euros
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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