I find myself at the comptoir of Café du Nord directly opposite the Gare du Nord, eagerly immersing myself in a Parisien brasserie scene. ‘Un thé s’il vous plaît’ I ask the fifty plus bar tender who’s immaculately dressed in a white shirt, black pants, black vest. ‘Un thé noir madame?’ I hesitate a split second to get ready to step into his world. ‘Est-ce que vous avez un thé rouge?’ I ask him slightly mysteriously. He smiles. Who manages to make a Parisien fifty plus bartender smile within seconds, it quickly goes through my mind. He pours me un té aux fruits rouges instead of a rooibos tea which was what I’d actually meant. But it doesn’t matter. We are both satisfied. He for not having to deal with a stupid tourist. A tourist okay. But at least it looks nice and blond and it does talk a familiar language. As for me, I am satisfied for the exact same reasons.
While another bottle of Moët and Chandon is opened with a loud plop at the table behind me where three good looking french speaking African men are seated and my two old french neighbors at the comptoir order another round of bière blonde, I make myself up for leaving the scene to find a metro to Oberkampf.
‘Ca fait dix euro madame’. ‘Excusez-moi monsieur?’ ‘Ca fait dix euro!’ The two old men at the comptoir start laughing heartedly. I need another split second to realize the bar tender is making a joke. I answer in earnest: ‘Ca c’est tres gentil monsieur, merci beaucoup’. I laugh along with the two old men. I feel grateful and warm. As if I’ve been cautiously checked and have been granted to pass the test. Seriously happy I step outside in the metallic colored Parisien rain. No translucent drops but a romantic mist. Even rain gets romantic in Paris. I quickly step down the stairs of the metro; down under and well protected against jokes, the weather and feelings of romance.