I am so lazy when it comes to getting out of my arrondissement on Sundays.
First off Sundays are usually my market day – and rue Cler on a Sunday morning is like closing time on Christmas Eve. There's a palpable panic – families willing to leave small slow children behind, frail old ladies ready to run you over with their overly laden carts – and me with Karli. I always go to the grocery with Karli. She mostly waits outside – but occasionally when she thinks the wait's been too long – comes rushing in to the store – searching for my face in the aisles. A dog running loose in the grocery store aisles is only met with mild concern on Sundays on rue Cler – people are more worried about getting their shopping done before the gates come clanging down around the unlucky 13:00 hour.
But I've been meaning to get together with a girl I'd met a mutual friend's party a few months back. She's an editor at an international, Paris-based newspaper – and all-around an interesting, decent person.
She lives in the Marais – which is the only arrondissement that gets exponentially, and inversely busier than mine – her neighborhood gets seriously rocking on Sundays – like a weekly street fair. Think West Hollywood, California in Paris – a mix of gay men and Jewish families.
We talk on the phone – and both almost simultaneously suggest meeting at Le Loire dans le Theiere – the Chipmunk in the Teapot – a great café that I'd been to once before – that I remembered for a bank of worn leather club chairs and huge wedges of rustic tartes. I knew I liked this girl.
Karli and I get there a little late – it took us almost longer to fight the crowds in the street than it had the whole Metro ride across town.
We wait with a throng of people at the door. I'd remembered this place as quiet – where I'd spent hours poring through guidebooks on my first visit to Paris only a few years ago. Was that really only a few years ago?
Finally we were seated at the table right in front of the impatient hordes. I tried to be casual – but what with Karli almost constantly getting stepped on, the people pressed up against our table, and the chill wind slicing through the heavy velvet door curtains – I could barely start to enjoy our tea and tartes.
I'd ordered. We'd both wanted a slice of the lemon tarte – crowned with an impressively high white meringue – but that was sold out. So I chose a slice of their chocolate tarte and chestnut-pistachio dacquoise. I'm a sucker for dacquoise – a nut-based meringue that's both light and slightly chewy.
As soon as two seats opened up at the low table next to the front doors – I moved us over – and then asked if they wouldn't mind. Here were the legendary leather club chairs.
And here was where we spent what turned out to be hours – the light turning to night – Karli carefully and comfortably ensconced by my side.
When we finally turned back out to the street – they were unbelievably even more crowded. We stopped in to a kosher grocery – she to buy some cream for a dinner date –
and peeked in to families at the kosher pizzeria.
We kiss-kissed our goodbyes – and then Karli and I fought our way through the crowds at the Metro at Hotel de Ville – back across town – to our sleepy little neighborhood in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.