Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This has been a good day to be an American in Paris. Mine is not a sophisticated take, but it has seemed from the moment I got to town that everyone around here is excited and pleased that we have a change coming in Washington. It has been a subject which has surfaced right along and today in mid-afternoon when I stopped to pick up a bottle of wine, the proprietor reminded me that at 6:00 it would be “Obama”. No translation necessary. Today I moved without real purpose, just enjoying the street scene that is such a feast around here. I did stop in Shakespeare and Company, the famous little bookshop full of English-language books that is a Paris institution. Great place to browse. A nice street called the Rue St. Andre des Arts parallels Boulevard St-Germain on the left bank is a good change of pace, packed with shops and restaurants of every sort. It is just so photogenic around every turn that I find myself taking a picture of almost everything I see. Window displays, church sanctuaries, store fronts, they all look pretty good to me.
I had come away from the piano bar last night without my gloves, giving me a good excuse to go there again. It was even better. First, because they had set aside my gloves for me. What a relief. Then because Henrietta, the pianist, was back and in good form. Again, I have to wonder just how many piano bars come equipped with a player wearing jeans, a pull-over sweater and tennis shoes who can knock out a startlingly delicious rendition of the Turkish Rondo? This is my kind of cocktail stop. Sitting next to me were Claire Duddy and David Sim, newlyweds from England where she is a librarian and he is completing his doctorate in American history at Oxford. They were the very best company, full of chat and queries. “Did you watch Obama?” And later, after we became real pals, “Why was there so little outrage about Iran-Contra in the U. S.” A touch of profundity with a Handel aria in the background. David is doing research on a filibuster movement in the 1800s which took place in Cincinnati and he is most anxious to come do a little leg work. So naturally we made tentative plans for such a visit. But before that, they insisted that I come visit them in England during my time in France. It is soooo close, they argue. I liked them a lot and I might pay them a visit. We departed with sincere plans to meet again. They were off for an Italian dinner. I headed home to saute a slice of beef tenderloin to accompany my Pomerol I picked up earlier. New friends. New perspectives. Engaging conversations. Isn’t that what this kind of trip is all about?

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