Le Pharaon

June 9, 2002

I moved over a table because mine was getting wet. I'm inside the café, but the front is open and it was raining, the rain blowing in onto my table. It's very cold and I'm regretting not picking a café more closed up and insulated. I don't care how much I sweat when it gets warm again, I'm looking forward to it. I hate being cold, and cold wind especially.

The tables here are square, with a stone design that makes the table look like it is covered with dull flames and little scorch spots. Stevie Wonder is playing on the soft rock radio station here. I've also heard Billy Joel singing "Honesty," and there have been some French songs as well.

Heineken ashtray, 'nuff said. The coffee cup and saucer are both white with the word "LAVAZZA" on them in blue -- the middle "A" seems to have elephantitis. The coffee was accompanied by two blue tubes of sugar, which are sitting on the little money plate that, in turn, is sitting on the receipt. The money plate is black, plastic, and in the middle is the red, white, and black horseshoe image which seems to be R.J. Reynold's attempt at abstract art.

It sounds like Tom Jones on the radio now, but I can't be sure -- if it is, it's not one of his more famous songs. In front of me, on the side of the entrance, is a giant picture of David Bowie's head. It's an ad for his new album "Heathen" coming out here the 11th of June, and in the picture he's wearing a tweed sportscoat and a tie, and he's looking up. His eyes are strange, kind of glittery and shimmery; the irises are unnaturally light as though he were blind or the full force of the sun was being reflected off of them. The photo is black and white, which some might tell you is better in general than color photography. I happen to think that the Great Color Photographer just hasn't been born yet (or doesn't have enough money for good camera equipment).

The man that just passed by on the sidewalk looked like Attila the Hun's destitute kid brother. He was wearing part of a street cleaner's bright green uniform (that he had probably stolen from someone) and a dark coat and thick working gloves. Or it could have been Osama Ben Laden, I'm not sure. He had one of those free newspapers rolled up in one of his hands, and he was striding down the street looking at the sidewalk as if questing for more freebies. I should probably stop hypothesizing about people I don't know anything about. He probably is a street cleaner who just got off work. Or maybe I'm the next Sherlock Holmes, I don't know. What do I know? I don't know.

I do know that the chairs here are wooden with upholstered seat and back cushions that have some kind of primarily blue and green floral design with pinches of peach and purple. Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" is trying to steam up the place, but I'm still cold.

There's some Egyptian bric-a-brac on the walls and a mirror with a winged Pharaoh stenciled on top. I can't see much because I'm hidden around a corner from most of the café. Close to my head is a pot of artificial red flowers (the flowers are artificial, but the red color is quite real). A menu is threatening to blow off my table. I've already lost the triangular stand up sandwich list that blew off the table some time ago and was subsequently retrieved by the waiter and placed next to the artificial flower pot (yes, the flowers, not the pot). The pot is probably wishing it could have real flowers in it -- it even has a water catcher at the bottom -- but the whole thing is quite dry for obvious reasons. I would say it is as dry as my sense of humor, but I can't remember what dry humor is, really. How can humor be dry, anyway? Does that mean there is wet humor? Is dry humor more flammable? All questions to be researched at the earliest chance. Probably all easily answerable provided one can come up with the appropriate Yahoo query.

The wooden ceiling architectural whatnot is quite nice, actually. It looks like part of a giant wheel with little holes here and there for light bulbs. The Printemps department store is across the street, closed of course. It is Sunday, after all. A lot of cars seem to be honking in the distance. If I look over my shoulder, I can see the edge of the Opera Garnier and one of its unnaturally golden rooftop accouterments surrounded by dreary sky. If I don't, then the whole thing is hidden from view, only a fleeting gold and gray memory.

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Le Pharaon
Metro: Havre - Caumartin

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

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