by Brendan Strong
Coffee in Paris tastes no different than it does here. At least in Starbucks anyway. We are in love in the city of love.
“City of light” she says. I smile, knowingly even though I don’t know. Always thought of it as the city of love, the city of light. There you go. Light. Love. I look into the cardboard cup and ask
“What are we doing in Starbucks?”
“It was here. That’s what. It’s stupid, but it’s here. You’re the one that loses your temper if you get too hungry.” I nod as I bite into something that cost too much and tastes too little.
Paris has been beautiful. We’ve walked down all the streets and roads that have French names. Not their proper names (although, of course they do have Proper names). I mean Boulevard, and Rue, and such. Ignorance is bliss, culturally. Not knowing what’s really going on. Just going on. It seems complicated, like you can’t go on. But you go on. Hoping. Some great resolution will come. Or an epiphany. Christ and culture, dawning on one. Let there be light. Let there be love.
Culture. Grows on you like bacteria. Ha ha ha.
She doesn’t laugh, but she doesn’t in the way I love. Her face kind of lights up, but without a smile. Like it’s dawning on her – the patience she has with me derives from something greater. More fundamental. Arcing over our lives.
“Stop it” she says. “Stop spacing out. You’re thinking of something. Why not talk ot me instead.”
“I’m listening” I say. To some bloke with an accoustic guitar, falsetto voice, and many thoughts about his various and vicarious problems, apparently.
“No you’re not” she says. “You hate this kind of thing.” She starts humming along. I chew on my whatever it is. I just pointed at it. Maybe it has a Proper name, like the Boulevards and Rues and so forth. Something else I’m ignorant of. But this time, not so blissful. The Boulevards and Rues have, to their credit, long histories, and the distinction of great cultural importance.
Humanity, distinguished from animals by the sum, depth and eminence of conscious thought. Shaping a world, rather than mere surviving. Shedding light and love on experience and existence. And the rest of it. Here I am, chewing on something with the great historical epithet “Made fresh today for you!” and the cultural importance of the Spice Girls.
“Come on” she says. “We’re going.” When I look at her she says “I know that face. You’ll mope here forever if you don’t shake yourself out of this… whatever this mood you’re in is.” She may well be right.
We get into the light, pass a bunch of teenagers in their dark clothes and rings and made up faces. Made up lives. Made up existence. No different from the teenagers here. Teenagers. Starbucks. “Let’s go for a drink” I say.
“After the Lurrve” she says. Lurrve. Louvre.
The queue is like, but not literally, a mile long. “Maybe we could come back tomorrow.” She looks at me.