Breakfast On The Day That It Happened.
Deux crèmes et deux croissants, s'il vous plait.
Breakfast of champions.
Here's the tray. Smiles. Merci.
A deep breath, inhaling coffee and letting it out in a long, shuddering sigh.
Watching Clothilde at work is always a pleasure. Her smile infectious and unbreakable, even faced with the dismal onslaught of old JD.
JD's the butcher from across the street. That's him, sitting glumly in his usual seat, keeping a baleful eye on his premises before opening time. As if someone's going to break the shutters down and steal a pig's head.
Of course, being christened Jacques Derrida never helped with his mood. I remember his scowl the day I leaned across his counter and asked him "Jacques, must not structure have a genesis, and must not the origin, the point of genesis, be already structured, in order to be the genesis of something?" I'd been hoping for a torrent of creative profanity but all I got for my trouble was "What of it?"
I shrugged and bought some boar sausages. Maybe Jacques Derrida hasn't died but has assumed a new identity as an elderly deconstructivist butcher.
JD sits glaring, staring over his coffee, inscrutable as a whelk.
I check my watch. Check the street. Shrug.
Breaking the end off my croissant reminds me of shelling prawns; that lovely fat crescent, crispy at the tail, as soft and warm as a woman within. Clothilde's croissants are invariably perfect.
Whelks, prawns, I must buy fish before the best of the day's catch is gone from the market.
Black, blue, grey. Parisians at work. An occasional bright colour. The flash of a scarf.
Not because she’s late but because the radio behind the bar starts playing an old song: Scritti Politti’s “I’m in Love with Jacques Derrida.” Embarrassed that I’ve got that on vinyl somewhere, I look at Jacques. He’s out on the street tables so he can’t hear the lyrics. Probably just as well.
First coffee of the day. All’s right with the world.
Except that she’s late.
Thierry is stacking pomegranates in le Palais des Fruits.
The Clash. That’s better. Rock the Casbah. In England I listened to French talk radio; here Clothilde plays old British music.
I finish my coffee and start on hers.
Scrape of chair legs on cobbles. Jacques grunts, stretches, rolls his neck around until it cracks, nods in his desultory way toward Clothilde, lurches across the street to unlock his shutters.
Clothilde cleans his table and pockets his tip.
I check my watch, shrug, slip her croissant into my bag. The butter makes a see-through patch on the front of le Parisien.
Counting coins onto my saucer. I call to Clothilde on my way out. Merci, au revoir.
Crossing the street I buy three pomegranates from Thierry.
Here she comes at last. Breathless. Kisses. Couldn’t you wait?
I’m sorry, I drank your coffee.
I offer her the croissant.
And then it happens.