Saturday, November 12, 2005

# Posted 3:00 PM by Patrick Belton  

PARIS MOMENT: So, shortly after filing Article the First from my cafe yesterday evening and prior to heading to my friend's temporarily ceded flat by Gare St-Lazare to begin work on the second, I was contemplating the inexhaustible number of ways nice crepes were nicer than nasty ones, and in particular, those freely growing on the street to ones housed in restaurants, so nice and so deeply a life-changing crepe experience that I suspected mine of containing not only oeuf, lard, but also liquified crack cocaine (ed: heroin - more upmarket!). My thought was on these weighty and important mysteries when I ended up, in a Parisian moment out of a genre film, meeting an Algerian secretary Salima and a postman named Thierry, neither of whom knew each other but who like me had congregated to listen to a subway musician from Brittany non-Spears play Breton bagpipes. We started talking, mostly when a panhandler asked me for change, I pretended only to speak Mandarin Chinese, and Thierry the postman helpfully translated.

OxBlog (in Mandarin): very nice music, isn't it
Panhandler (in French): money, please
Helpful Pausing Postman: this gentleman is wondering if you happened to have a euro.
OxBlog: it's a very intriguing proposition, but I'm not yet convinced.

Algerian Secretary then exited from the crowd to join this interesting conversation and perhaps offer Arabic translation services. It was, after all, a Friday in Paris, and no one seemed terribly eager to make the subway connection to leave it and go home. So, I suggested to the Postman and the Secretary that we go out for a drink, not solely because it seemed like the sort of random and aesthetic thing one does in Paris. As we wondered through the rues of the northern 8eme, the Secretary then shared her ambition to become a jazz singer and started demonstrating by singing us jazz standards, as we walked out toward adventure, fraternité and the Guinness which upon learning my name my comrades fretted I must instantly be given as a matter of the greatest urgency, or likely death would result. We paused by the nice gentleman speaking about Jesus so the Secretary could share that as an entirely assimilated Algerian, she didn't like the Qur'an at all on literary grounds, and much preferred the Bible of the Christianity to which she converted so that as a better assimilated Frenchwoman, she would instead have it as the religion she didn't believe in.

After much adventure, the scene ended up as follows.

parisienne: you're depressed. i can see it in your eyes.
oxblog: no. it's just 4 am, it's cold and raining on the champs, and i'm in shirt sleeves.
parisienne: tell me about all this pain of yours.
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