From the Poobah Files: City of Lights, City of Laughs

We used to spend quite a bit of time in Paris. It was work-related, but we often had entire days to explore the city on our own. We got to know the place pretty well, well enough to sometimes guide Frenchmen from other cities around the place. We had a store of great little neighborhood restaurants, tucked away museums, and other less-often trammeled spots.

Nice place, Paris.

We and Mrs. Poobah took a trip there once. Paid for with frequent flyer miles from work, it was a nice respite from child care when the Poobette was very young. We walked the boulevards and did all the things that tourists so often do - and then some. Because our life is a constantly unfolding story for your enjoyment, here is one our favorites from the City of Light.

A nice romantic dinner, that's all we wanted.

"Bun, what would you like to eat," we asked. "Lebanese, Toulousiane, entrecote, cassoulet, whatever you want my dear. You are my queen." (We still, after more than 20 years, talk like that you know.)

"Chinese?" she asked.

"Um, bad choice in France my dear. They don't do Chinese, or Mexican for that matter. Too gauche for the well-developed palate you understand."

"Greek?" she offered.

"Sure, we could do Greek. I know a nice little place in the Latin Quarter. Very fun, and the food is good," we said.

And so, off we went. A short Metro ride and a brief walk and we were deep in the middle of a teaming Latin Quarter. There were so many people that we bumped into each other going down the narrow streets. Shills stepped out of all the tourist places trying to encourage diners in off the street.

"Psst. Hey, Mister. We have fabulous food. Couscous, wonderful tangine. You will like very much," one Moroccan beckoned.

"Dine in royal comfort my friend. Our food is the best you've ever eaten," said an Algerian.

"We cook for life," huffed a decidedly French Frenchman. "Our food is much better than these North African scum. Couscous...PAH!"

"No thanks," we said and turned off the main drag and into a side street lined with apartments. We headed toward a storefront halfway down with a small line outside.

"Poobah, my friend!" Niko said. "Please, come in," he said while jumping us past the line.

Inside, the place was dark and a small bouzouki band played loudly in the background. There were shouts of "OOPAH!"and crashing dishes on the floor. Our feet crunched on the broken crockery as we walked to our table. And there was Niko, obsequious and at our elbow the whole way.

"What can I get my special customers this evening?" Niko crooned in Greco-Franco accented English. "Who is this beautiful creature with you this evening? Judging from her youth and beauty, perhaps Monsieur's mistress?"

"Uh, wife Niko. Wife. Epouse. No mistress," we replied.

Niko smiled and hurried off to fetch the bread and wine.

We and Mrs. Poobah talked over the candles. We listened to the bouzouki band, clapping politely after each cacophonous number. Plates continued to joyously smash on the floor as is the custom in Greek places.

Soon enough, the food came and we dug in. It was wonderful and we enjoyed every mouthful, not only for the taste of the food, but the romantic setting.

The bouzouki band took a break and the place quieted down. We continued to talk softly over the candlelight.

We leaned close to offer Mrs. Poobah a candlelit kiss and suddenly our ass fell, embarrassingly and loudly, right through the wicker seat of the chair. The momentum carried our ample backside on through and collapsed the chair into a splintered heap with an omnipotent fella sitting, dazed, in the middle of wreckage. We did, however mange not to spill the glass of retsina we held.

There was a sudden hush. Everyone in the crowded place looked at us, many with that small grin the French sometimes get when something is hilarious and they don't want to let on that they find it funny. The bouzouki band, which had just retaken the stage for their next set, sat in silence.

"OOPAH!" Niko yelled at the top of his lungs. "Dance my friends. DANCE!"

Plates began to smash. The band struck up another ruckus. Niko and the crew from the kitchen formed a dance line. Some normally reserved Frenchmen joined in. Holding hands, the dance line came toward us weaving and shouting to the music and ouzo.

Niko fell out of the dance line as it continued on around the place and bent to help us to our feet.

He whispered in our ear, "I'll get you another chair my friend. We wouldn't want to spoil the romance of the evening, would we?"

"No Niko," I smiled. "I suppose not."

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, February 20, 2006

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