La Porte Montmartre

June 19, 2002 - 4:00 pm

A surly white-haired man in a black t-shirt cleaned the nearby table and started straightening chairs, ignoring me until I stared at him for a while and he finally took my order. A man in a tie sitting in front of me is holding a pipe with one hand and a cell phone with the other and somehow is managing to use both simultaneously. The round tables in the front of the cafe alternate yellow, red and brown. The window-doors are wide open and the weather is perfect, warm with a cool breeze. There is a rather large street running past, and I have a rapidly growing dislike for people who feel the need to hurry the cars in front of them along with rapid-fire horn-honking.

A little Asian girl with an upside-down overgrown tulip for a hat sits with a still-in-the-box Barbie doll while her much older male companion reads to her from Le Monde. It's a Rapunzel doll -- Barbie as Rapunzel -- and she is now coming out of the box.

The tables and chairs on the inside of the place are real wood through and through. There are more round tables, but I'm sitting in the square table section. My coffee came with two blue tubes of powdered sugar. Green Carlsberg ashtrays sit on most of the tables. The awning is extended to block the sun and is yellow. T.G.I.Friday's is visible a little further down the street. Barbie/Rapunzel, never fully freed from her packaging (she's shackled like a prisoner to cardboard backing), has gone back into the box with no windows from which to hang her hair for would-be rescuers.

Some of the lights here look like squat, beige-nosed atomic bombs fastened to the ceiling by inappropriately thin pieces of metal. The interior walls are splotchy brick red with framed drawings of Paris. It's hard to hear the radio now, but earlier it was turned up for Blondie's "Heart of Glass." The businessman's pipe has by now been fully smoked, but he is still on the phone.

Life would be so much better without cars.

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La Porte Montmartre
29, Bld Poissonniere
75002 Paris
Metro: Grands Boulevards
Phone: 01.42.33.81.09

Price of an expresso: 2.30 euros
Sugar: 2 tubes of powdered sugar

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