Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Salon de Thé

There is a small Salon de Thé, very French , where I like to sit before or after work and watch the world. Especially on a rainy day, it exudes a rare cheeriness. People hurry by bundled up, negotiating wind and umbrellas. The new tram glides by silently. Occasionally you’ll hear the warning bell for an inattentive pedestrian. Inside, the light voices of women speak the local dialect. I eavesdrop to all the languages around, read or write. They are Patissiers, Chocolatiers, Glaciers, yes they make their own ice cream too. Surrounded by all the luscious temptations, it is easy to desist: yes choosin’s illusion. Les Torches aux Marrons (Flaming Chestnuts), Granité de Noisette (Rocky Nuts), Savarin, Punch aux Rhum, Tarte au Poire-Chocolat, yes Pear and Chocolate Pie, Pensée (Pansy), Linzer, and les Sablés: five kinds of sand cookies and a variant thereoff les Florentins. I am just eating, tasting the words and contemplating the impossibility of choice.
The light is reflected by mirrors, so placed that one is not confronted with the image of oneself ‘stuffing’ one’s face. Usually I am frugal: a light salad, a healthy choice. The ladies working here seem to be coifed by the same hairdresser. They all have a dark and blond mix: one has sober blond strands, another a shock of zebra striped hair on the left side while the rest is blond. The third sports a peacock effect; one could call it brindled like a white appaloosa with peacock eyes. The color scheme of their hair suggests a harmony between them and brings light hearted good vibrations to the place. Today a few men come in buying chocolate and getting good advice: it is after all St Valentine and that is taken seriously in France. The old man at the table next to me toasts his even older wife saying: ’I have never seen anything as beautiful’, lightly caressing her hand.
Listening, looking, I learn the rules of the game as it is played in Rue du Noyer # 1. Whenever melancholy hits me, the shame about the state of the world wears me down, this Salon de Thé is my temporary refuge.

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