vendredi, avril 06, 2007

Kristy+IynVisit Day 5: Opéra, La Durée, and dinner

I had to work again today, so off I went to work while Kristy and Iyn did a tour of the Opéra Garnier. From Kristy's account, the place was mind-bogglingly gorgeous. How surprising!

Once work was done, I met the two of them at Les Tuileries. We tried to get a bite to eat at one of the cafés in the gardens, but the server was too busy to bring us the menus, let alone food, so we got up and kept walking. We passed Concorde and then headed up to Madeleine, intent on showing Iyn what he missed at La Durée last Monday. We had mostly the same fantastic desserts as before, but the main difference was that we had the oddest and most amusing server ever. The man was young, but clearly trying to take himself very seriously and appear older. He had a pointy goatee and a long moustache (it wasn't waxed...but that was the only thing missing). He had wire-rimmed glasses and a very tight black vest over his shirt.

For some reason, he was intent on speaking English to us, despite his thick accent and my reasonable capacity to speak French. Once we had made our order--with his eyes boring into us with great seriousness, he came back to set our table. He was either OCD or making a great show of displaying his table-setting prowess. He carefully lined up the dishes and plates and napkins and cutlery with minute precision, flipping the knife-blades inwards and pausing for a full 10 seconds to contemplate the placement of one napkin.

When he brought out our food and tea, he paused for a moment, looked at us all, and said "Euh...I wish you...a very pleasant...euh...moment." This would be a literal translation of what all the servers at this tea salon say in French. However graceful it may sound in French, it was pretty awkward in English and it took real effort to avoid giggling.

Nonetheless, the tea and the desserts were great and we had a lovely time. At one point, Kristy thanked the server in French and he looked at her very seriously in and said, "You can say 'Thank you, Arthur.'" WTF? Later on, I thanked him for something (also in French) and he said "Bitte." (i.e., "You're welcome" in German.) After all of that, we were thinking that I should just spontaneously address him in Spanish, just to see what he does.

To top off the event, while he was waiting for my credit card to go through, he started humming along to the background music (one of the few eateries in France where I've heard music). After a moment, he looks at Kristy, and says "It's Carmen." When Kristy responds with a bland smile, he continues, "By Bizet." Now, this is funny, because Kristy was an opera vocal-performance major in her undergrad, and probably knows the opera in question inside-out. Either way, the server was clearly assuming that the Americans wouldn't know anything about opera, and would thus be profoundly impressed by his prestigious cultural knowledge. Bourdieu, call your office! Anyway, I jumped in quickly and said "Yes, she's quite familiar with it," and that put a quick stop to what promised to be an uncomfortable conversation.

Once we were done there, we got on the métro and headed back home. I left Kristy and Iyn to make a detour to Bastille, while I went home and made a quick run to the butcher for some food for dinner. There was some sort of IT-related problem at the residence when I got back so I got sidetracked for a while and didn't get to making dinner until Kristy and Iyn were already back. A couple of hours later, we ate a huge pile of steak and endless amounts of cheese, drank a lot of wine, and stumbled off to bed.

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