Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Crashing and Smashing

In Paris near the Seine river in the Latin Quarter, there is a neighborhood that comes alive at night. Restaurants and bars line the narrow streets, and after the sun goes down the smells of many kinds of foods fill the air. (Don't go there for breakfast, though. In the mornings the place is empty, waiting for the night.)

So we were there one night, not wanting to miss the spectacle that was only blocks from our hotel. We walked up one street and down another, weaving in and out between the other tourists and kids and the crowd, poking our heads into a shop now and then to look at the over-priced trinkets.

As we walked down the hill back towards Boulevard St. Michel, we heard a large, loud, sharp crash like a display case in a china shop succumbing to the fury of a stampeding bull. We turned to look.

There, on the doorstep of his Greek restaurant, a well-dressed man was throwing white plates down onto the ground, breaking them into pieces one after another, leaving the pieces in a pile at his feet by the curb next to the cobblestones. He was doing this on purpose as was another man two doors down. They seemed to be competing.

The crashing and smashing noise was tremendous. Their technique worked: they made us look.

Trip to France - Day 14

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Remember This

What were we doing? I don't remember now. We were walking.

Yes. We were walking along the sidewalks of Paris. Trudy was on my left. Ben was on my right. It had been a long day, and we were heading home -- heading back to our hotel and the five flights of narrow, winding stairs.

I don't remember now whether is was light or dark. It must have been light, for it didn't really get dark in Paris at that time of year until well after 10pm.

Let's just say that dark was on its way, that the rows of buildings on the other side of the Seine made a shadowy backdrop for our walk.

With this setting around us, the streets of Paris and the river and the patterns of the buildings all around us, we came to a spot where the silhouette of the spire of the cathedral of St. Chapelle rose up against the rest of the cityscape.

I turned my head to the right to look at it, and as I turned, I saw Ben walking along (at the end of a long, hard day) with his face down and his eyes fixed on his feet. He didn't see the river. He didn't see the backdrop of the buildings on the other side. And he didn't see St. Chapelle.

Ben! I gasped. Look up! This is Paris! Look at this. Remember this!

Trip to France - Day 14

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