Sunday, 19 July 2009

One of the lucky ones

There’s nothing like Paris. 9:30 arrival on the Eurostar. Packed and stinky metro ride then walk to the hotel. A passionate quickie. A shower. Change our clothes. Then head to the restaurant for dinner reservations at 10:30. Dinner is fabulous. Pink champagne and melon avec jambon. Sweet and salty lamb and then a glorious crème brûlée. Delicious for certain, but it’s the ambiance that really captures. It’s hard to believe it’s Wednesday night. Streets and cafes packed to the gils on a weeknight. The women in black eighties-style dresses, or jeans with soft and feminine white peasant tops. Fantastic bags and fancy flip-flops. The men with wild hair and trashy T-shirts. Worn out chucks or Euro-style black leather half-boots. Everyone is smoking and drinking Rosé. The pretty hostess gets an entire line of traffic to wait for her guests taxi, “Duex Minutes!” she signals and there’s nary a honk as she sends the guests on their way.

Everyone’s friends stop by and by the end of the meal the waitstaff are all smoking and drinking as they clear up. A huge table is put out front under the propane heaters and fills quickly with proprietors and customers and friends. I’m reminded why this has been such a hot bed of art and philosophy and writing. I wish my French was good enough to pull up a seat and join in the passionately laissez-faire exchange.

Instead we walk back to the hotel through an ancient church courtyard. My heals make a nice clop-clop accompaniment to the giggles and moans from the couple making out against the wall. Geraniums trail down from every window and some 20-something immigrants are playing football in the the empty market grounds. It’s 1 a.m. and cigarette butts litter the ground and revelers are starting home. Not quiet, by any means, but quieter. I feel fabulous in my black dress, but my feet are unaccostomed to heals. I fall into bed feeling like one of the lucky ones.

What a night.

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