Departed Paris at noon Friday destined for home. 31 hours later I am currently begging spare change at gate C25 of Philadelphia airport, thanks to a stiff breeze in Chicago and the world-class competence of US Airways. I am led to believe I actually might make it home before 1 am Sunday.
Oh, well. At least Paris was a hoot. Thursday I met up with two Iowahawk readers for an evening of sophisticated imbibing in the neighborhood of Montparnasse. Our host and sherpa: Prof. Jonathan, an American ex-pat who has taught university English in Paris for 30 years. Joining us was Dr. Carlos, an Australian medico currently enjoying a half-year sabbatical in France.
What Montmartre was to the Bohemian age, Montparnasse was to the early 20th century: a cafe-saturated neighborhood of famous auteurs and artists like Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Henry Miller, Joan Miro, Man Ray, et al.
Mmm, smell the tragic artistic brilliance...
We'll see if that reputation survives my visit there. First stop: La Select, a restaurant favored by manyof Parisian literary set in the 1920s. Bordeaux for Jonathan and Carlos, tequila for me, and we toast Hemingway.
From there, across the avenue to La Coupole, another Montparnasse Jazz Age institution with an amazing interior dominated by a large cupola (hence La Coupole) and pillars decorated by many of the 20th Century's most notable artists. Bordeaux all around.
Last stop of the evening: La Something Something de Lilas (sorry, I had my swerve on by this point). Like the other stops Prof Jonathan is greeted with great deference by the wait-staff, who set us up at a heated outdoor table. Another round of drinks and Americanly-illegal Cuban cigars courtesy the fine Professor. Ha ha! Come and get me coppers! The joint is quite swank, and each table features a brass plate commemorating one of their famous regulars. Sorta like the Broadway Deli, for suicidal artistes.
You know what to do whenever somebody says the artist of the day, don't you? Scream real loud! Aaaaah!
In short order the heater at our table has attracted three comely jeune filles, with whom the resourceful Dr. Carlos strikes up a conversation en Francais. Fille un is a wisecracking Russian-French-Turkish Kung Fu expert / art gallery owner (I am not making this up); Fille deux is her accountant, an expatriate Welshwoman; Fille trois is a something or other. All seem quite infatuated with the good Doctor.
"So vhat are you doink here? Are you artist or writers or zomesink?" laughs Fille un.
The Doctor and the Professor point at me. "He's a writer."
"Really?" they ask, enthusiastically. "Novels? Screenplays? Have we heard of you?"
I'm still looking around trying to figure out who they were pointing at.
"He's a blogger," offers Professor Jonathan. "He's.. well, sort of known."
The three filles react to this as if they had learned I wrote school lunch menus or lawnmower warning stickers. Despite his revealed association with blogospheric scum, the filles continue their flirtation with Dr. Carlos, who deftly extracts a party invite for Saturday night. It's getting late, so I head for the Metro and bid my drinking companions a bien tot, and Carlos bon chance with scoring that rare & elusive menage a quatre.