An American In Paris
(Excerpted from C’est la Vie: Paris, June 2014)
His niece, not seen in many years, wants
to meet, traveling from London to Paris
under the channel by high speed train for a
one night reunion, arriving early enough for
a stroll along Boulevard St.-Germaine shops.
They stop at a renowned patisserie and have,
for the first time, a macaroon: hers chocolate,
his fraise, and they are disappointed.
The circumference of a quarter
(though they come in several sizes) and thick
as several euros stacked atop one another,
the confection consists of a crackly fondant
shell and a flavored soft center inside
bready layers. Gone in a crunch or two, a trifle,
macaroons will not replace beignets.
A glass of wine at Le Café de Flore
will reverse the aversion for The Tourist
while his visitor window-shops the boulevard.
They will meet later at his first arrondissement
apartment near the Bourse.
As he enters the apartment his niece is in
the middle of a tryst with the young man
who hours ago politely served macaroons,
effetely using silver tongs and lace napkins.
Seeing his tawny body between the pasty
English-pink legs of his niece, The Tourist
realizes the young man to be less feminine
than he appeared. They slow but don’t stop
as apologies are made for his stealth
and he exits, to return in a few hours,
pondering whether to get her a separate room
for the night for two reasons:
1). To rid his mind of the image of her grasping
pale legs, and 2) Ah, well, there is no second reason.
A Moveable Feast
Situated in one of those narrow old passages where trucks and vans block traffic unloading goods during morning rounds, the small—capacity twenty—restaurant, identified by a one-word red neon sign, has acquired the patina of age without charm. Still early for dinner, the restaurant is empty of customers except for The Tourist until another man enters—white hair, gray glasses and a red face wearing a suit jacket and mismatched trousers too heavy for the season—and sits at the adjacent table. A friend of the waiter, they converse at length, in French, of daily matters. Once his meal arrives the man becomes quiet, sometimes whistling to himself; sometimes humming as he eats and works on a crossword puzzle, stealing an occasional furtive glance at The Tourist or having a word or two with the waiter. The only other sound is piped-in classical American rock music, fifties through the eighties. Given a complimentary dish of ice cream for dessert the man eats it all, scraping the sides of the dish with his spoon, which he licks front and back, leaving without a word to The Tourist but bumping his table on the way out.
Celebrating World Cup 2014
Her face: one side is bright, almost white from
bright lights; the left half is dark, eclipsed.
Wearing only a Cameroon 2014 World Cup
Football tee shirt and shaking through a
Josephine Baker-inspired reggae dance
on the rue Rivoli, the African attracts an
enthusiastic crowd of midnight revelers.
Cameroon fans blow soccer horns;
some toss her a few euros.
Scott and Zelda would have jumped in a fountain.
Heavenly Bodies For The Ages
Heading west along the Seine’s
Right Bank, the #69 bus crosses at the
Pont du Carrousel to the Left Bank,
navigating narrow rues built for horse
and carriage, not double-bodied busses,
dropping The Tourist at Auguste Rodin’s former
home and studio, now a museum and gardens.
There are paintings to be seen on the
museum’s walls along with other artifacts,
but the attraction is the statuary
throughout the gardens, chopped, hacked
and chiseled from marble blocks by Rodin
and his assistants.
The still, smooth white bodies—most with all
of their body parts intact—are frozen
in various configurations; holding, kissing, loving,
dancing and thinking, all taking place in front
of Rodin’s masterwork, The Gates Of Hell.
With the sun still high, the #69 returns
The Tourist to St.-Germaine for drinks at
Les Deux Magots, opening personal gates to hell.
Grabbing At The Brass Ring
Along Boulevard de Clichy in the midst of
Pigalle strip clubs, do-it-yourself
sex shops, hookers and hustlers
there is an old merry-go-round,
wooden horses of the 19th century,
where for a few euros fauve-inspired
painted equines gallop about, creating
wind in the face breeze, and heard above
the wind, Fellini-esque calliope music
suggests guilty pleasures.
There is no longer a brass ring to grasp;
too many children and drunks fell off
their oak mount trying to snag the ring,
good for a free ride. The merry-go-round
offers horizontal circles which cease
only when the music ends.
For the price of a glass of house table wine,
peeling-paint wooden horses
and tired circus clown music
offer escape and fantasy,
if not a brass ring.
Gene McCormick is a writer who paints without preference for either discipline. His art is in private and commercial collections and he has illustrated a number of books. He is the illustrator for Misfitmagazine.net.