top of page
PARIS CHATS

II

We ended up at a little bar that was supposed to have live bands, but by the time we arrived they had already played. The vibe was cool, so we stayed anyways. Any place where men have long hair and women have it short is alright to me. We switched to whiskey. A suicide pact one might say. Shortly after the first drink and a game of darts against a bunch of strangers, the three of us ended up getting dispersed; my sister’s girlfriend went outside to continue smoking and discuss French politics with whoever crossed her path; my sister moved around like a humming-bird, talking to literally every person in the bar; and I stayed talking to a girl with teeth braces who said she liked my hair. I didn’t want to ask what her age was because I was afraid of the answer. She was going on about how she loved the Stones and Led Zeppelin and all that, while I was internally debating how wrong would it be to kiss her.

 

My sister joined us. She was overly flirtatious with the girl in braces, which didn’t surprise me at all, but I though it wasn’t an ideal behavior with her girlfriend around. I reprehended her lightly so as not to kill the mood. “I’m not doing anything,” she said. “Ok, if you say so,” said I. Another round of whisky. The girl joined. My internal debate was over. I signaled my sister to get out with a subtle eye movement. She flew. The girl in braces and I started getting closer ever so slowly, effortlessly, as if moved by pure inertia. 

Suddenly she lifted her eyebrows and took a step back. “Mon papa,” she said. “What?” I asked, hoping I had understood incorrectly. “I came with my parents. I gotta go”. She kissed me once in each cheek and dashed off, probably to lie to her parents about who I was. I was simultaneously left with a sense of dismay and relief. 

 

At around 2 AM they started closing the bar, at which point a fat-ish shirtless guy stood on a stool and announced that everyone was invited back to his place. It was his birthday, so almost two thirds of the bar were his friends anyways, and the rest of us had become his friends over the course of the night by virtue of him buying us drinks. The bartender turned on the lights, marking the initiation of the exodus. An exodus of drunks and fools, guided by a shirtless buffoon. We walked all the way to his flat, all the while chanting French songs. They must have been popular songs because, except for me, everybody knew the lyrics. For a brief moment I felt like we were marching to torch the president’s house. You never know with these people. 

We got to the flat and started mingling with the first-class citizens, but the noise complaints from the neighbors started pouring minutes after our arrival, so shirtless guy had no choice but to kick everyone who wasn’t his real friend out. Some took this as a sign to end the night, some of us weren’t good at that. After a couple of losses, our battalion count was six soldiers: my sister’s girlfriend, my sister, a gay dude, a short girl, a girl with pink hair, and me. I think both girls stayed because they liked me, but I didn’t like them like that. It was late, so there was nowhere to go except our apartment. So, again we marched. I struggled to keep up. These people can walk!

After the first block my sister stopped her march, and grabbing it by the neck, took a bottle of tequila out of her purse. We hauled like rabid monkeys. “He made us walk and then kicked us out, it’s the least I could do”. We lifted her as if she had just scored a goal in the world cup’s final. We passed the bottle around while walking towards our apartment. The street was already completely silent and increasingly misty. I intentionally paused for two seconds without being noticed by the rest of the troop. I stayed a couple of meters back to obtain a third person’s perspective of the scene I was taking part in. I saw it in grayscale. I took a mental picture of the exact moment when the dim light that emanated from the public light pole hit the cloud of cigarette smoke above them. “So, this is Paris”. I re-joined. 

As we were crossing the Sienna through Pont de Bercy, we encountered a most peculiar character. Leaning against one of the masonry arcs that support the metro tracks, stood an infinitely wrinkled, heavy bearded man, fully dressed in black, playing the accordion by his lonesome. He was immersed in his playing and didn’t even acknowledge our presence. The notes he squeezed out of his instrument were made of silk, perfume and magic dust. We stood for a few minutes in silent awe. I tried to make eye contact with him to no avail. I noticed that he had one brown eye and one green eye, both aimed at the keyboards. We didn’t dare to talk. We didn’t dare to clap. We didn’t want to bother him. He might as well have been a ghost. 

We continued our walk. We remained silent for a few blocks, no one knew what to say after that. I broke the silence, “Wait, was he real? You all saw him, right”? We all laughed at the same time and started talking on top of each other. There wasn’t anything too profound to say about it, we wanted to, but we were short for words and just threw some “wows” and “oh-my-gods” like dumb adolescents.

bottom of page