There is a vast array of venues in Paris to get suitably tipsy in. You can choose from cafes and bars, which serve a variety of drinks and snacks, bistros which are small bars often family-run, serving local and traditional dishes and brasseries, which are usually larger and noisier. Last Friday night I found myself at the Brasserie Triadou Haussmann, or so the Police report reads.
One of the members of my soon to be new triathlon club (Expatriés Triathlon Club) invited me out for a drink and a bite to eat, which I gladly accepted. We thought we’d start the evening with an apéritif. While the usual meaning of a before dinner drink applies to apéritifs here in France, including the standard selection of pastis and bitters, it generally means any type of alcoholic drink before dinner.
The brilliant thing about having a drink in Paris at any one of the establishments above, is that they always serve your drink with some type of small nibbles. It may be chips on the lower end of the scale or marinated olives at the top end. At the Brasserie Triadou Hausmann it is salted popcorn – nice!
So there I was telling my new acquaintance about the story of my allegedly gay midget (I mean little person) neighbour back in St Kilda East, who one night came home drunk as skunk, having lost his keys to his apartment, he repeatedly kept locking himself out from our security door to our building, constantly buzzing my apartment for me to let him in. My patience had worn thin by the third time in the middle of the night and so I ignored his tiny pleas outside my window. This was of course a totally appropriate story to be telling someone on your first night out with them. It was during this engrossing tale that the lights in the Brasserie all went out and the Friday night revellers were all silenced.
This is interesting I’m thinking. Reminds me of Cluedo – it was Colonel Mustard in the Study with the iron pipe. Perhaps it was more like Garson, with the baguette in the bistro. All French establishments have some element of red velvet, dark wood, gold railings, mirrors and little lamp shade lighting...but now it was all black.
Bang, then the lights came on, and the golden hue of the Brasserie returned – damn, not fun. After our second helping of popcorn (the French sometimes don’t even get through the nibbles – how could you not??), we decide to head off to our next venue. I reach for my handbag which is hanging on the back of my chair, to get my wallet...I’m reaching...I’m reaching, I turn around, where is it? OMG, WHERE IS MY HANDBAG!?!?
I leap from my chair. Where has it gone? My heart is racing as it continues to sink further and further into my chest. It’s gone! My friend insists that it must be here. I look under tables. My friend starts speaking super fast French asking all the patrons around us if they had seen my handbag. Nope! Not really interested they were. We tell the waiters...eh, not overly concerned. French people barely fain interest in ensuing public dramas. If that had been Melbourne, the whole restaurant would’ve been searching for my bag...ok probably not....but they would’ve watched intently as I went into panic mode and start to recall the contents of my bag – wallet, credit cards, iPhone, camera, PASSPORT....and oh shit, my apartment keys!
Suddenly a nearby lone diner in his late 50’s looks up from his crème brule and says that he saw two men with ‘dreadlocks’ come into the restaurant, walk past our table then turn around and walk out. He thought it was strange.