mardi, octobre 11, 2005

The Sunny Side

A reasonable request was made by Dear Wife to go out for lunch today. Following our usual pattern, we worked through the morning, looking forward to a lunchtime break. We were both anxious to continue working, and didn't want lunch to become a bloated middle passage for the day, just a crisp invigorating walking in the warm sun to some tasty morsels, and then back home.

But the Pomme de Pain, or the Snack Time on the Boulevard, while quick, sounded bland. The adventure of yesterday made a routine meal unappetizing. "What about Dana's Mexican food suggestion? We could find that and eat there for lunch," I said. Dear Wife was hungry, and knew it would take a bit of travel to reach her old room mate's reccomendation, but thought this sounded OK. She looked up "Le Texan" online, gave me the address (3 Rue St. Philipe du Roule), and then I looked it up on the map. It was far away, up above the Arc d'Triomphe and near the end of the Rue de Faubourg, a street I'd never visited, but knew as a shopping mecca. "Be fun window shopping. We'll have to take the Metro," I said.

From our apartment it was further to the Metro than it looked on the map. I rarely consult the map anymore, and now that I've become accustomed to walking everywhere, I didn't realize how much hoofing I'd gotten us into, despite using the Metro for the bulk of the journey--well, so I thought. (It should be said that we rarely take the Metro--we just walk).

The Metro (the 12) was fine, but we had to take it from the Rue Tabac station since the Sévres station is closed, and on our way over there, we stumbled on the very chic rue Grennelle? and a Tod's store (Dear Wife's footware brand of choice). There were lots of interesting stores, in fact, and we lollygagged long enough in the sun that I was beginning to roast. I kept moving us to the shady side of the street. My back and brow were sweating, and after the ride on the Metro (uneventful, though our pride in this illusory competency was about to be, y'know, shattered). But Dear Wife's happy melody was becoming overwhelmed by some sour notes from her stomach, which, though inaudible, bagan to give her a pressured expression and fatigued posture. She didn't complain, but I could tell she was starving--by now I was, too. We came out of the Metro at La Madeleine, skirted this famous church (the church, not the children's book franchise, or cookie, both of which are spelled differently, I THINK)("franchise"? How insidious is this box-office, bottom-line, psuedo-business talk!). We found and passed the Ralph Lauren Polo store (in the windows Beryl Markham/Amelia Earhart stuff for les dames, the guys looking like high-end grape OtterPops in a pinstripe suits), and began trudging up the famous shopping street. Last night Fashion Week, Fall 2005 had ended, and on this following afternoon here we were walking through the front lines (Rue Montaigne must be CENTCOM), feeling anything but presentable (Dear Wife looked lovely, she just felt crappy) (whereas I looked AND felt like crappy). Lots of government ministries along this street, lounging their bulk between the fashion houses, and patroled by guards who shoo'ed us away from their shady stretches of sidewalk and back into the sun on the opposite side of the street for blocks on end.

The walk was much further than I expected. Dear Wife was wilting. Very few Bistros to be seen as we walked, and the ones we did pass seemed unwelcoming, filled to overflow with locals and fashionistas. We walked on.

At last we found the simple, one block long Rue de St. Phil.... But number three was no longer home to "Le Texan." "Le Texan" was gone, booted out for political or culinary reasons, who knows. The other restaurants on the street, which we inspected one by one (even sat down once, only to get up and walk on) were either too full, too smokey, or too questionable--and they were all too nice for the way we were feeling, which was very sweaty rabbit, very American, very Yankee Pot Roast to their bouiallbaise and foie gras.

"Let's just go to the McDonald's on the Champs Elysees," Dear Wife finally says.

No one's happy.

We see an inviting facade advertising Indian on the next street as we are walking toward the Champs--we walk over, but as we come closer we realise it is too fancy for us right now--but lo! A few doors down is "Le Chalet" a mock ski-lodge done in mid-budget style (which is just low budget style properly cleaned) . We walk in and a friendly "Maitre'd" greets us. They have non-smoking in the ubiquitous basement, which we see as we walk down STEEP STAIRS to be very much like a set from the original "Pink Panther." (Read the EVENINGS IN/EVENINGS OUT entry on the Pink Panther at

Meglio stasera, baby.

A few drinks later, a tartine and a few crepes later, all is well. The staff is exceptionally kind, even by Paris standards (which I still say, despite all the other testimony, is a pleasantly high standard, better than San Diego, certainly better than LA and New York--esp. given my very insulting level of non-proficiency in francaise) (I didn't even have enough wits about me to drag the "t" sound from "et" onto the frontporch of the following "une"--which should have been "un" anyway, for my "café"). After lunch, I devised a route home that was far more reliant on rail, deciding to take the 9 to the 1 to the 4 to Odeon, virtually at our doorstep. Our return ride is swift, and we are even feeling strong enough to visit Le Champion and pick up two six-packs of water (1 litre per bottle) and carry them home.

Four hours have elapsed since we walked out the door.

"Baby, I'm sorry--lunch got bloated."