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Paris from a Balcony


Everyone in Paris dresses in black and looks like a supermodel, and they spend money like they're all filthy rich. At least that's what it looks like three blocks from the Arc de Triomphe where I'm staying at the Atala Hotel.

Four stories below my balcony window where I sit in my underwear with this laptop computer warming my thighs, couples walk this narrow side street called Rue Chateaubreand. I am told by my English friends that this hotel isn't bad by French standards. At least in London I can get a towel warmer and a big room with a mini-bar for the same 130 pounds I'm paying for this romantic little dump a block from one of the most famous streets in the world * the Champs Elysees.

The temperature is a pleasant 68 degrees. The shifting breeze brings my eager nose smells of delicious cigar smoke, then curried lamb, perfume from the Indian girl walking with her Japanese boyfriend, beef steak, rotten kitchen refuse, freshly-baked bread, diesel fumes, water on ancient cobblestones.

The breeze also brings sounds. People on the street -- mostly couples, their shoes tapping the centuries-old sidewalk below. Voices speaking mostly in French -- singing, lilting, laughing like no other language could. The diesel motors of the little cars that keep the street below lined on both sides as one leaves and another takes its place. Little motorcycles straining up the slight incline. These sounds echo from the five-story buildings that line Rue Chateaubreand. Nobody looks up to see me here, face illuminated by this ghastly electronic glow, reading glasses perched like a little bird on the tip of my nose as I sit half-naked four stories above them in Paris. I like that.

I've just come from a fine walk down the Champs Elysees, where I had a dinner of a very nice club sandwich and Cote Du Rhone wine. I bought a few shirts and some blue cheese. I am now enjoying the cheese as I write this. I couldn't find any utensils to eat the cheese with, so I broke a computer CD in half and I'm using that as a knife.

In the far distance I hear what sounds like fireworks. It is exactly midnight now. I have no idea what's going on elsewhere in the city. I know only what's going on here around this little hotel on Rue Chateaubreand at midnight in Paris. And I suppose that's enough for me now.

Rob Memphis, TN



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