Royal Clignancourt

March 11, 2002

There was a bee in here that had somehow gotten trapped on the inside, and it was buzzing along the window near me, trying to find its way out. I don't generally like bees or wasps, having been attacked by them several times in the past, and I was a bit nervous to have one buzzing next to me while I was trying to write. At some point I looked up and saw that the insect had buzzed over next to the table in front of mine, and the older man there was about to try to kill it, his napkin poised to smash the thing against the glass where it was resting for the moment. Due to a weakness in his fingers or a lack of confidence, the man succeeded in temporarily catching the bee under his napkin but, far from killing it, only slightly wounded it, causing it to subsequently drop a bit in altitude and begin buzzing angrily in the area of our feet. I tried to pull back as far as I could into my corner while the man went head-to-head with the bee, continuing to try to smash it with his napkin even as it hyperactively spiraled around. Somehow he managed to administer a more violent blow, sending it to the ground and the woman he was with coached him on how to finish it off with his shoe. Now the poor bug is trampled in several pieces next to the foot of their table; the couple has since left to pursue other adventures, attacking other dangerous insects in other cafés, perhaps.

My square table top is an amalgamation of pink, black and grey with a cherry-colored wood border. The chairs have metal frames with brown cushions (the back cushions are composed of two horizontal sections like a puffy "equals" sign); the chairs resemble undersized office furniture from the seventies, to a degree. There's the requisite plastic green Heineken ashtray on my table; the coffee came with a three cube sugar packet.

It's a big place with separate areas for coffee drinkers and lunch eaters. Two young women sit a few tables in front of me under the row of spherical lights that illuminate this section of window seats (along with the light that streams in through the windows themselves); the woman with her back to me has a sleeveless blouse on, exposing a butterfly tattoo on her left shoulder. But now they, too, have gone.

Outside is the bridge over the periphery highway, and a man in an ear-flapped hat smoking a cigarette bends down to pull something out of the gutter and puts it in his pocket. Up until this point it was a beautiful day, the sky completely clear and blue with a friendly sun shining down, but now it is becoming overcast, slightly hazing over, the blue slowly transforming into a cottony grey. Far across the intersection is a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Above the bar are a row of slightly strange light fixtures. They consist of a vertical reddish-colored square with rounded edges inside a thick silverish border; the square holds sixteen short silver cylinders that have their tops cut at different angles. In the center of the square is a spherical, off-white light.

Where there are napkins, they are peach-colored.

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Royal Clignancourt

82, boulevard Ornano

75018 Paris

Metro: Porte de Clignancourt

 

Price of an expresso: 1.90 euros

Sugar: packet of three cubes

 

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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