samedi, octobre 22, 2005

Our Apartment Building

We're on what is called the 3rd floor in France, but corresponds to the fourth floor in the U.S. The ground floors are level zero, and I'm sure that makes some computer programer somewhere very happy.

In this photo, our apartment is the topmost full-sized unit, just below the attic storey, (every now and again we hear a heavy tread above our heads, but with such tall ceilings--12 feet, man--the noise is much less intrusive than I've experienced in apartments at home). All three windows on our floor open into our apartment, which I believe is 50 or 60 square meters, (maybe 500 or so square feet? I knew this dimension at one point, but I've forgotten it).

These are the two shops occupying the "level zero" of our building. They are on the back side of the building, over which our windows open. I've never seen the cremerie open, but then I rarely walk down this street because the entrance to our building is on the opposite side of the building, on the parallel street rue St. Sulpice.

Today I had the worst esophagal seizure yet. It was on a minor bit of duck from a really tasty and cheap little place not three medieval blocks from home. Dear Wife and I were eating lunch, and three bites into our delicious main course I experienced suddden lock up. Total misery. I could breathe, as always, but I couldn't clear it. I tried to in the tiny bathroom the restaurant supplied its patrons with, just off of the kitchen, but after15 minutes locked in there, I had to go. I went back to the table, sat down in the vain hope it was going to pass, and just as quickly stood back up and said to patient, understanding, sympathetic and long-suffering Dear Wife, "I'm gonna run back to the apartment--I should be able to get it free there," and left.

My barely unmolested dish was still on the table when I returned, Dear Wife looking lovely in her relief. It had been forty-five minutes, at least. A titanic struggle, ugly. Normally, release is followed by a relief so great, and so total, that I am able to resume eating almost right away. But this time was different. I was so stricken I just sat with Dear Wife for a long time, sipping a little water and testing myself with tentative nibbles of mashed potatoes. After a while I worked myself back up to regular consumption. So I ate a bit. Through all this the staff batted not an eyelash, never pestering Dear Wife about my whereabouts, or whether I was done or not (so she reported to me), and they did not even clear her plate until I had returned and finished with mine. Now that is discretion, Parisian style.

In the evening I visited one of the shops on the street below our windows, Pierre Samary, a purveyor of fine woolens and cashmere duds for dudes. I bought myself a handsome pair of wool socks, and more importantly, I learned that they carry linen boxer shorts every spring. "They come in around February," the friendly fellow with the scotch accent who runs the place told me.

I had a pair of linen boxers a few years ago, and didn't realize how difficult it would be to replace 'em. It has turned out to be impossible. I even charged Dear Wife with a mission to locate some for me on her ten day trip to Ireland last year--no dice. She found everything else imaginable done up in linen, but not men's boxers. And let me tell you, linen boxers are great--at least the pair I had. So I know what shop I'll be visiting come springtime, 2006.

And hopefully I'll be free of this nasty choking habit by then.