Monday, September 7, 2015

Participer à La Royale

It was basically a diner, La Royale. The sign said café, but it reminded me of a diner in NYC. The menu layout, the offerings, the tables. One difference was the active bar. That’s not necessarily like an NYC diner. Basically…well, you get the picture. My first meal in Paris was in a diner that offered entrée and dessert specials and called itself a café. I think it was the comfort of familiarity in an unfamiliar place.

There were a few things that troubled me as I prepared for this trip: 1) Would my debit card work to withdraw Euro’s from an ATM? (It did). 2) Would I be able to navigate myself from my hotel to where ever “there” was during the day then back to the hotel again? (so far so good, but the Metro will be the real test). 3) Would I have any problems dining? 

I know that may sound silly -- maybe even absurd -- but as I wandered around my temporary neighborhood, The Marais, today, salivating at times at the thought of bellying up to a bar to enjoy a glass of vin rouge or sitting outside in the crisp, jacket-wearing-weather air at a café table and enjoying a café crème, I passed them all and walked my timid, lily-livered self around and around the winding blocks of a small vicinity in Paris. Looking. Observing. Breathing. Smiling. Finally with hunger and thirst gnawing at my stomach and throat I made the decision to take myself inside La Royale and sit down. I'm trying to speak the language, what little of it I possess (Bonjour, Merci, Oui, S'il vous plaît, Au revior, etc.) — pleasantries — but I have yet to relax and proceed with speaking the French niceties without fear of ridicule or mockery. I mean really, I'm not French so why am I so worried. The point is I find it exciting to speak pleasantries in French. There's no reason I should let my own insecurities stand in my way of meeting new people...or eating. 

I observed myself as I ate. Almost like I had moments of out-of-body-ness where I actually saw myself. Timid, reserved, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I was a far cry from the girl sitting outside with her boyfriend laughing, drinking red wine, smoking a cigarette, and checking herself out in her reflection every chance she got. She was a French speaking Parisian girl without the appearance of care or concern and she was putting me to shame with her abundance of pleasure while I sat my reserved ass in a café chair and tried to remember how I was supposed to eat according to the guidebooks instead of just relaxing and being me…in Paris.

This is the only picture I've taken so far in Paris, but it looks like quintessential Paris to me. 

I’m telling you, people, I have a long way to go to get to the place of not appropriating the ideals that I think others want me to appropriate and of not caring what other people think. As long as I’m kind and courteous, I should just be me. I should demand it of myself. This is my trip to Paris and being afraid of a language barrier (that I’ve yet to encounter) or of looking like a tourist (I AM ONE) is not going to cut it. 

I can’t be anyone else but me and the sooner I realize that the better this trip will be.

BTW, I recommend the white fish in tomato sauce at La Royale. Also, the Chardonnay. It was dry and worked beautifully with the fish. Upon leaving the café I said "Bon soir" (good evening). A French customer of saying goodbye when you leave the business much like saying Bonjour or Bon soir (depending on time of day) when you enter. Participation can be fun.