One of the initial times that I visited Paris as just another unwashed American head of cabbage, I had the opportunity to connect with a homely but very earnest young woman who I had found out about just before my journey. One that was very well acquainted with a recently deceased friend of mine back in the Midwest. We found ourselves together in typical meandering lanes around the crossover of the 11th and 12th districts. In what was for me, all too prosaic and what was for her all too familiar. I was an unflyable kite with a great rent in the midst of it, and she was a long piece of string that was bumping it along the cobbles. I had been told earlier that I could not hope to stay at her apartment as there were undisclosed guests of some sort that had secured that privilege just before my arrival. This declaration despite that I had first called her from my previously booked a smaller chamber lost on the fringe of Jardin d’Plante. A little closet that initiated my intimate love affair with the most necessary employ of a sink late at night within the closet sized room behind its Leyden glass partition. Any mutual attraction that one of us might have felt for the other seemed more out of simple curiosity for each other’s immediate presence at that table than any significant fluttering of the hips.
As we walked, she told me that despite the fact she was the last of her line, her forebears had lived here in this section since the time that the final sun king was decapitated. We sat before our respective plates of viande chatting up our mutual tales of a now equally martyred, Jim Happy. She recounting various incidents at length, between sips of wine, of his high points and subsequent failures. Later upon the street, she pointed out a darkened corner where his gallery had once temporarily flickered to life before being abandoned. We performed for each other the rest of the evening like street puppets long versed in an age old routine of dubious popularity that approached banality. Earlier in the evening at our first stop, she had cautioned my haphazard attempt at poorly demonstrating a verbally apportioned measure of spiritual generosity to one of her male friends with an inappropriate tense of the term ‘love’ that left all in the vicinity flat.
But now, much later, the both of us in a foot race, speeding up to that sliver of a street where her five story building divided the lane into smaller nondescript tributaries. I glanced past the flood of light emanating at ground level from pharmacie next to her entrance up to the darkened window where I approximated she might inhabit. And for a moment, pondered just who this mysterious stranger was, as mentioned previously at the beginning? The one that now displaced any remote possibility of being invited up to enjoy the possibility of a more intimate friendship with her? The 2nd etage portal seemed an unrelieved facade completely cut from a single block of carved limestone rather than supporting that unlit opening that concealed another competing entity. She and I both spoke and pondered simultaneously. And at the same time, the measure of her expression leading me to mentally recant my initial reaction to her less than stirring presence staged earlier that evening? The fantasy of love was far too important to us both to rudely tarnish with the fiction of any further staged reality.