La Liberté

October 29, 2002 - 4:00 p.m.

It was the windows, painted with Robert Crumb images that drew me in. And the fact that even in this relatively small place around lunchtime, there was a place for me to sit next to the front window. I noticed a sign that said service was at the bar, so I went up and asked for a coffee. Apparently the guy was trying to figure out where the espresso he had just made was supposed to go, and he solved his problem by giving it to me. It didn't even have a saucer, but it was hot, so I took it. The available sugar was all powdered, so I returned to my table with just the forlorn-looking lone cup.

My table has pieces of cigarette pack wrapping on it and a half-smoked Camel Light cigarette in the tall black plastic ashtray. There are also plastic salt and pepper shakers. The table's surface is glass, and within the the top of the table are rows of glistening wine corks, as if they were wet, but it may just be shiny glue on them, I guess. All the tables here are different; the larger table next to me has some kind of black and white Japanese-looking mosaic designs embedded into the wood.

A little girl is stumbling around, and for a while was putting her mouth against the glass of the front door. A man came by outside (who evidently knew her) and kissed the door on the opposite side and then continued on his way. Everyone seems to know everyone else here. The bartender makes loud noises from time to time, and someone honked a bicycle horn a few minutes ago. There are seasonal cobwebs above the bar along with what is probably a permanent strand of large-bulbed Christmas lights, half of which are out.

A couple of women with an Eastern Block accent were sitting at the table next to me. When one of them ordered tea, the waiter brought her a large cigar case-looking thing with a picture of an elephant on the lid and let her pick out whatever flavor she wanted. He just left the box on the table and it stayed there, open, until after they left. It was mostly turned away from me, so I can only imagine how many strange and wondrous varieties of Elephant tea were inside.

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La Liberté
Metro: Faidherbe Chaligny

Price of an espresso: 1.40 euros
Sugar: tubes of powdered sugar

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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