Thursday, January 31, 2008

Amor de Lejos, Amor de Pendejos

Back on the streets of 7th Arrondissement, I decide that now is the time to make my move on that cute girl I saw working at the grocery store last night. On the way to Chez l'Ami Jean, I saw that she was working again and now is my chance.

But first, I need a reason to be in the store. Need to make it look like a spontaneous and serendipitous moment, plus the line is kinda long. The hard part is to find some items that seem sensible for me to buy, or items that make me seem normal, but interesting. This means the Savon de Douche would send the wrong message.

It's pretty tought to find some good items. Maybe I should just grab a Twix bar and be done with it, but that's not classy enough. How about some absinthe? No, alcoholism might be the wrong signal too. Shelf-stable lasagna? No. Yogurt? Maybe. Champagne, fruits and honey? Hmmm, now we're giving the right signals. And toss in a box of Michel Cluziel chocolate for good measure.

With my loot in tow, I make my way to the line. It's still kinda long (these French take grocery shopping pretty darn seriously - even at 2:15 in the afternoon) and I'm practicing my opening lines in French:

Bonjour. Ah, tou me fais penser a quelqu'un que jais connais. C'est beau, non? J'aimerais bien voir un film. Tu voudrais aller? D'accord! Je viendrai te chercher a sept heures. Tu as un beaux yeux. Tu veux entrer un instant? D'accord.

Which means:

Hello. Ah, you look like someone I know. (pointing at whatever is handy) That's beautiful, isn't it? I feel like going to a movie. Would you like to go? Great! I'll pick you up at seven. You have beautiful eyes. Would you like to come inside for a while? Excellent."

Happily, the line is shorter now, but then disaster strikes. The line is shorter but the girl at the register is different! Bloody hell! My girl has gone on break and I didn't even know it. I could have intercepted her somewhere else. I don't see her around anywhere. Now I have to dump all this stuff. Crap.

So much for the honey and champagne.

A cup of the Kenya Gethwimbini at Soluna Cafes.

I'm really doing not much of anything during this trip to Paris. I've found a local tackle shop selling Laguiole pocket knives with a corkscrew. They range from 58 to 79 euros and I'm slowly convincing myself that I need one. Everyday, on the way to the Tour de Maubourg Metro, I spy through the plate glass window inspecting the wares. Maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm back to wandering the streets and it's almost three o'clock. I suck at being a normal tourist hellbent on seeing everything that must be seen. For me, the "must see" things on this trip are: food and women. Unfortunately, I'm doing a lot of the former and none of the latter.

Already, I'm starting to develop patterns. Into the Metro to the Concorde station, switch to the 8 line and to St. Paul Station and the hear of Marais. I wander around again and ponder the need to purchase Absinthe. It's illegal in the United States and that fact alone makes it worthwhile. Absinthe has the reputation of driving men to insanity and death - but I'm not scared, I've been eating commercial beef and poultry most of my life. And that's worse.

The Samiac roaster at Soluna.

Once again I find myself at Soluna Cafes where Victor and Cristina are discussing potential items for a potential new menu. It's nice to be in a foreign city and having a place to call home. That's what Soluna Cafes has become in just a short period of time.

Cristina is the cute Guatemalan daughter of the owners, studying at The Sorbonne and trying to decide if they should add salads and plat du jours to their lineup. Victor knows I've got The Spro back home and they want to know what I think.

It's tricky offering advice in these kinds of situations. Coffee is one business. Food is adding a whole realm of logistics that most coffee operators just aren't ready for. Soluna Cafes is a serious coffee shop and after going through a series of questions, I drill it down to the most basic of them all: if you sell the amount of servings that you realistically think you will sell, will it be worth it? Only they can answer that question.

I'm thinking that I'll stop by Soluna for a coffee and then head to Montmartre to see Amelie's hangouts and then to Pigalle to see the seedy side of Paris. Maybe take in a peep show or two. Buy a little love for an hour.

But as with any time that I don't have a solid schedule to adhere to, I get diverted. What was going to be a brief visit at Soluna, turned into an entire evening of hanging out with Victor talking coffee, talking shop, talking gossip and waxing poetic on The Nature of Love.

It was Victor who told me the old Mexican saying: Amor de lejos, Amor de pendejos - the long distance love is the love of idiots.

How poignant indeed.


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Aiza2010 said...

It is good to boil down to the essentials the components of a successful cafe as you begin your business plan to open your coffee shop because in doing so, you can create a checklist of characteristics of a great menu, rock solid workers and furniture that will make your new cafe take off.