Tuesday Morning 6:58 am, May 1, 2018
Les Deux Magots Paris, France
She chose the table outside. It was early enough to avoid the crowd and the cloud of smoke that came with them. It was just her, a book, a chocolat chaud avec chantilly and a buttered baguette. It was a new day. A new life.
She laughed to herself. Her regular Americano, or Café Allongé, was replaced by a beverage from her childhood. A beverage often enjoyed after a day of snow sledding: a hot chocolate, except she had graduated from marshmallows to home-made whipped cream.
He was outside exceptionally early this Tuesday morning, especially for a French man. His dog, Pamplemousse, woke him up wanting to free his bladder earlier than usual and being the reliable human he is, he rolled out of bed, put on his ambitious pajamas of blue sweats, white cotton t-shirt, and white Corails, and started the morning strut.
“Americans,” he thought as a group of people ran past him wearing fluorescent shirts and baseball hats. He could not wait to get back home to start his olympic sport: coffee drinking.
But then he saw her.
“New Yorker, definitely New Yorker,” he said to himself.
She looked melancholy, but hopeful. She was reading a book, but he could not make out the title. This was the perfect way to intersect. Paris was the city of artists and writers, she would not think it weird that he asked…
“What are you reading?” he asked
“Re-reading,” she answered.
“Well it must be good then. Let me guess, Eat Pray Love, or wait, no, what’s that other one? Gone Girl? he asked. Please don’t let it be gone girl, he thought.
“No, and no. But I have read both of those.” she answered.
She held up the book. Its cover was black and white, the edges thinned and creased.
“Aha, A Moveable Feast by Hemingway! You Americans love Hemingway,” he exclaimed
New York girls are quite different, he thought to himself. They have this air about them. They work hard. They savor little things like a cup of coffee, or hot chocolate in this case, are ambitious and fearless, and they don’t take shit or change themselves for a man, or woman, I like that.
“He was quite the writer. I would have loved to sit down and have a beer with him,” she said.
“What would you ask him?” he asked.
“Hem, why did you have to be such an asshole?” she said, unapologetically.
“I didn’t see that one coming, why so harsh, or well, honest?” he asked.
“Because to get the truth you need to be honest yourself. Hem knows he messed up with hist first wife, Hadley. It is clear from his writing later in his life, inlcluding from this book here,” she told him.
By this time his dog started to pull on the leash, moving towards her.
“What’s his name?” she asked.
“Who? Oh, shit, yea sorry, my dog, Pamplemousse, his name is Pamplemousse,” he said, tripping over his own words.
“Pamplemousse! That is my favorite French word,” she said, dipping her spoon into her hot chocolate and scoping out a small, melted, piece of evidence that whipped cream once inhabited the fine porcelain cup.
She smiled sideways. He looked down at his shoes. Pamplemousse jumped straight onto her lap.
“Mousse! Get down, that’s not polite,” he warned
“Mousse! What a great nickname. It’s ok Mousse, dogs are allowed to do things humans would be labeled crazy for. It’s ok, he can stay,” she said.
“Do you mind if I stay too?” he asked, gesturing to the empty seat next to her.
“Non,” she smile.
“So are you a misplaced New Yorker on the road, or you a Parisian in training?” he asked her, keeping Mousse away from her food.
“Neither, I am just a simple girl in a high tech digital world…Jewel, it was the singer Jewel who sang those words first, but it rather fits me,” she told him.
“I like that lyric. A high tech-digital world it is, but not in Paris. In Paris you can time travel back to the days of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and typewriters,” he said staring off into the clouds.
“Until you go to pay the bill for your café, or chocolat chaud and realize this is very much not 1922.
He laughed and nodded. She took a bite of her Charentes-Poitou buttered baguette, which was partially soaked with liquid chocolate from dipping the bread into her cup. She then looked at her watch as though she remembered something.
“Do you have the time?” she asked him
“I do,” he glanced down at this watch. It was a wind-up like hers, “7:59, to be exact,” he reported.
Thank you. It’s time to pay and go. “L’addition, s’il vous plaît,” she said to the waiter.
“So soon?” he asked, genuinely surprised.
“Soon the city will open up, the air will fill with second hand smoke, and my romantic thoughts of Paris and this literary cafe will fade,” she said, again looking melancholy, but hopeful.
“So where are you going?” he asked
“The book store.” she answered.
“Are dogs allowed?” he asked.
“Welcomed more than people are,” she said with a wink.
“Mousse, do you want to go check out some books?” he asked.
Mousse looked unintersted and was smelling the ground scouring for any buttered baguettes remnants.
“I think that’s a yes,” he said to her.
She smiled, and together they walked to the bookstore on Rue de la Bucherie.
“I wonder if they have new Hemingway books in store,” she thought.
“I wonder what she will choose to read next,” thought.
Les Deux Magots: Café littéraire à Paris
6 Pl. Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris