Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve in Dammits

Today it is Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve or not, MBH and I are creatures of habit. You see, MBH and I have a morning routine (MBH has the best ideas for a routine). There is a this little coffee shop/provisioner in our neighborhood called "Darwins" (Dammits in MBH speak) that has free wifi, comfy chairs, excellent coffee/hot chocolate (actually hot most of the time....) and the most lovely oatmeal/maple scones and they sell the NYT, a requisite for me. We were here right when they opened, just like every day and now we are in our usual spot (two comfy chairs facing the front door to observe the comings and goings), having our usual (Darwins blend/scone for me, large hot chocolate/no whipped crème for MBH). The are playing the best music, the sound track from Amelie and if it wasn't for the fact that I know I am in Cambridge (MA...our faire city), I would think I was in Paris.

We have become part of the early morning "regular" crew. There is Ned, the nearly blind eccentric writer/Prof at Harvard(?) who wears the same tweed jacket complete with patched elbows. Ned says hi to us each morning and discourses with MBH briefly about some article in the Economist or Financial Times. There is Lucy, an oft downsized social worker who comes in everyday and wears the exact same green skirt and green fleece jersey. She often finds some soul to talk up Congregational religion and Cambridge liberal politics. And, of course, the Harvardites...the kids here on Daddy's Dollar who seem to get less and less intelligent with each passing year and more and more "trivial" with that annoying "I'm entitled" attitude that today's 20 somethings seem to have more of than actual ambition to do something good for the world/themselves.

Yesterday for example, I sat listening to four chums discuss one of their group's "misfortune" at having graduated early and having to spend the next 8 months traveling Asia, Europe and maybe India (if his Dad would let him/pay for it) and how is would "Suck" to have to actually have to work a bit in a few places because his folks thought it might do him so some good. He actually had the audacity to say "Don't they know how hard it was to go to school at Harvard and I didn't have to have a job while I was here". At the very same time, I was watching one of the girls across the room that I know from having had a previous discussion with was only able to afford to take two or three classes a semester and was working 3 jobs to put herself through Harvard. While, I don't wish evil on anyone, but I hope that bugger chews some gum in public in Thailand.....

The staff at Dammits is interesting. There is your typical "art school" coffee mistress behind the counter (she has this great pair of rhinestone encrusted cat eye glasses and always a perky smile), she normally works with the I-wanted-to-go-to-art-school-but-decided-at-the-last- minute-t0-pursue-early-childhood-education-and-now-I am-working-at-a-coffee- shop girl who is quiet but always nice to chat with. My favourite person to watch each day is one of the kitchen staff guys. He starts the day about 10 minutes before MBH and I get in and he is your typical clueless rockstar wannabe guy who doesn't understand how anyone can listen to anything but the latest "metal/grunge" (is grunge even a genre anymore??) with a smattering of Jimmy Hendricks (very disconcerting on a Sunday morning when what you really want is a little soft jazz or Norah Jones). He believes the sound system here is his personal home stereo system and gets annoyed when someone turns down the music or worse yet plays something like classical music or Frank Sinatra.

There is this picture right above my right shoulder where I sit that shows this young woman leaning on a bar in Paris. She is drinking a glass of kirsch and looking sadly over her shoulder. Behind her, in the out of focus far field, you can see two older men sitting at a table outside obviously in the middle of their daily routine of newspapers, gossip, and coffee. I've never had much of a desire to go to Paris and lose myself but more and more lately I have been thinking about just that. I want to go to Paris, spend my days wandering the city, drinking coffee in cafes and kirsch in small bars. I want to spend spring, summer and fall in Paris and then spend winter drinking pints in small pubs in London. My legs against the wall heater, a book of Joyce, Dickens, or Tennyson in front of me. But, lately it is Paris that is holding my fascination and today I am in my cafe and it is Christmas Eve in the Paris. The regulars they come and go, sending good cheer to everyone who they see, the music has a softer sound, the breeze the bite and sting of winter in France, the smell of the Seine, the soft glow of midwinter’s day and I have been lost and found in Paris....the Paris in my mind