Café Marco Polo

December 21, 2002 - 12:00 p.m.

When I arrived, there was a large man sitting in the middle of a long curved couch, talking on his cell phone with some authority, making it look like the couch was some sort of dark red cushioned throne. At the table in front of me a couple were trying to speak in English, though it was somewhat apparent that English was not the native language of either. The man sprinkled a fair amount of French into his sentences, and the woman was possibly from Eastern Europe. It seems she was about to leave Paris, and at one point the man came around the table to bend over and hug her, and she went into a coughing fit.

Just outside my window a man in a beret and an orange shirt is setting up a seafood stand, arranging bug-eyed crustaceans on beds of green seaplants. Now he's opening up oysters. The television across the café is set to the animal cable station, and various animals are camouflaging themselves and chasing after each other, and for a while a camel was rolling around in the sand with wild abandon.

On my distinguished-looking dark wood square table are the accouterments of my espresso brunch. There's the cup and saucer and miniature spoon and maroon tube of powdered sugar and crumpled dark chocolate wrapper. The receipt tray is silver, round, and has a corregated bottom. The ashtray is silver as well, it's rectangular and humped with a curved rectangular depression in the center, and the number 1664 is mentioned several times upon its surface. In the far right corner of the table is a tall water glass. On the window, in French, is written the words "Taste our Oysters," and there is a large sticker of a pipe-smoking ship captain presenting an immense tray of oysters.

The radio is set to the nostalgic station. Earlier we heard "Angie" by the Rolling Stones, and now it's the Beach Boys with "Good Vibrations." The upstairs dining room has been opened and the place is starting to fill up for lunch.

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Café Marco Polo
8-10, Avenue du Trone
75012 Paris
Metro: Nation
Phone: 01 43 43 26 19

Price of an espresso: 2.30 euros
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
Please send your questions or comments to: david@undergroundparis.com