Saturday, November 13th, Paris, 11 a.m. local time
True fact: I set my alarm for 5:3o p.m., to make sure i will be ready at 6 to start writing my post for The Bridge.
And now, i am going to tell you two stories, one is true, the other is true as well but happened (or will happen) at some other point of the Time-Space continuum (Doctor Who addiction is bad), and it will be up to you to find out which happened on Saturday, November the 13th, 2o1o, in this dimension.
Fernando, of course, has more pieces of information than you, reader, and he will know straight away, but don't worry my dear friend, you can still play with the answer at the bottom of the post!
1st story. 5:3o p.m., i hear the song Dead Duck by Emiliana Torrini emerging louder and louder from my bedroom. I am in the kitchen, washing the dishes and cleaning up a bit, waiting for my hair-dryer to cool down before the second round: my hair is still a bit wet around the neck and i would not want to go out like that and risk a cold (my reserves of rum are running low and i would not be able to make a decent grog with what is left of it). It's an old hair-dryer which tends to stop now and then without any apparent reason, and the only remedy is to wait for it to wake up again from its electric slumber. I rush towards my phone tu turn the alarm off and free the poor Duck from its slow agony, dry my messy hair, put my black hooded cloak on and leave the flat, not quite sure yet of my destination.
It's almost dark already, but as the clouds are high and the streets crowded with people, it gives the false impression that it's still quite early in the afternoon. Where do i want to go? I'm a bit cold, a bit hungry, a bit wet around the ankles already (it's been raining all day and my trousers' legs are too long). I know the perfect place: it's risky, because i don't reckon there will be any room left, especially for a tall lonely nutter in a cloak, but as i very much want one, i shall try to find a table at the Café de la Paix, facing the Opera, for a thick and steaming hot chocolate. If i'm lucky, they'll still have a cosy seat in a corner and will be happy to hide me there instead of having me standing in the queue right in the middle of the Café with that threatening elvish attitude (6.10 feet, 6.25 with my heeled and laced boots, all dressed in black, an odd extra-long plait hanging from under a bunch of hair which certainly means i belong to a cult of baby-eaters: i'd scare myself!). Le Café de la Paix is an excellent choice, not because it is, but because the idea of sipping this chocolate has entered my brain and it would be extremely hard to remove it now, so...be it!
Twenty minutes later, 6 p.m. local time, i am the lucky owner of the very exact corner table i had pictured in my head. The waiter, a tall and dark man in his forties, takes my order with a smile. It's Paris, when you sit ina Café here, you are used to being addressed without the faintest smile by waiters. They usually give you a 'qu'est-ce qu'il vous fallait?' in a slightlty annoyed tone, while busying themselves like over-excited ants, swiftly cleaning the table, rearranging the menu and (you can tell from the way they look at you -or precisely don't) half-hoping you would change your mind and leave straight away. Either he has seen my cloak and tries to sound casual while repressing a giggle, either he was given orders about being extremely friendly to anyone about to spend a minimum of twelve euros in a hot chocolate, i don't know: but he is smiling and even seems pleased to be here. Could it be that he IS friendly after all? I mean: for real? When in doubt, i always chose to avoid paranoia and believe the best. It makes me feel cheerful.
The fantastic smell of freshly baked bread is tickling my nostrils: by a pillar next to me, a large square basket is displaying a very appetizing selection of small breads. I look away from it and start spying on my neighbours.
Couples barely talking to one another are sipping white wine from the tip of their lips, two men in dark grey suits compare the data on their laptops, which seems to be digging a deep wrinkle on their foreheads, and on the other corner of the room, a lady dressed in black and red is pretending to read Proust with a cup of tea and a chocolate éclair (i know she was pretending, because she didn't turn one single page during the whole hour i spent there). I can't help wondering if i'm being that much of a cliché myself, sitting alone in here. I see my reflection from the window and decide that no: i look much more like an alien. It's not because of my funny haircut, my boots and my cheap clothes, but because i seem to be the only person actually here.
The two businessmen are still in their office, the couples are as far from the Café as they are from one another, each of them plunged in its very own thoughts in which their significant other is very not significant at all. As for the lady, she does most definitely belong to a novel herself, and is not here because she likes tea and chocolate éclairs, but because she enjoys the idea of her self, in the Café de la Paix, having a tea and a chocolate éclair whilst reading Proust. For a moment, i started to laugh aloud at a silly idea that crossed my mind: i wanted to put my cloak on again, pretend it were a super-hero cape and fly across the room to rescue the poor chocolate eclair lying here, so unnoticed, so unloved, and remind it of its true purpose in life: being enjoyed by a greedy and hungry mouth!
Being an Alien is easy, it starts with loving this hot chocolate: and that's why i'm here with my Moleskine and that's also why i brought my eyes, and my nose: because i wanted to see things around me, to smell the small breads and the expensive fragrances in the gentlemen's and ladies' surrounding bubble of air, and because i wanted to be here. But Parisians are like that, a lot, especially when you pick them up in a posh place like that: they prefer 'pretending' than 'being'. It's a shame. But the true victim, here, is the poor chocolate éclair...
2nd story. 7:55 p.m. Elodie is standing in the kitchen making her second roll of Maki with great concentration and care, the way i taught her. I'm looking at her from the sofa, very pleased to see that she is such a brilliant pupil and Maki-lady (i couldn't say Sushi-man, could i?!). While eating a chunk of fresh mango, she tells me 'hey, you didn't hear about Fernando for your café yet?'
Bl***y f***ing hell!
I had set the damn alarm! How come it has not been ringing!? And then i remember: shortly after 6, but at the time completely unaware of the hour, i had set my alarm for it to ring after the first step of preparation of the sticky rice, and it had not rung then because (i noticed later) i had set the alarm well but not turned it on! I went on with my rice, setting the alarm every ten minutes to follow the very strict recipe, sitting from time to time with Elodie to watch bits of Equilibrium ans i had completely forgotten about The Bridge!
It is a fact: i have a very poor memory, and it's often playing tricks on me. I don't remember what i did the day before, i even forget about the day, i mix Fridays and Saturdays, believe i can go out for some shopping and suddenly realize it's Sunday and every shop is closed. Of course, having a night job doesn't help: going to bed when the Sun is still asleep and waking up with the
Moon tends to complicate things a bit... I keep track of the time and of my appointments by setting alarms and scheduling e-mails and very often forget most of my plans.
It' a poor excuse, especially since i had been waiting for this new appointment with Fernando so badly, but the blame is to be put on the fact that it was a very unusual week-end for me, as i had retired from Friday to Sunday afternoon to a quiet and cosy bubble after a long and busy month.
But back to the '6 p.m.', as the point of it all is, in the end, to say what i was doing then, if i remember well, between 6 and 7, we went out to the shop for stuff to put in the Maki, we came back, chose a film, and i started to prepare the rice. And that was it. Not very exciting from the outside, but not unlike the best parts of life: you have to live it to know how unique and pleasant it really is!
But if you are looking for a very exciting and promising story of some interest for you, maybe you'll be pleased to know that i recently purchased a card allowing me to visit Le Palais de la Découverte as much as i want to (and trust me: i very much want to!). Next thing planned: the Planetarium! And i'll take you with me...
Epilogue: This is how my stories end! I don't know whether it is so important to know which truly happenend, but if you want to play, you will find the solution here!
Good Luck, and see you next week!