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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Waiting for Paris

Greenwich Village, 1958. 


I want to see Moulin Rouge; Ray wants to catch Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers; Ruby wants to go to Shakespeare & Co. and all of us want to have a croque monsieur in the Fifth Arrondissement.

Gordy’s dad was there after the war and says they make you pay to sit in the Luxembourg Gardens. But I don’t care. We just know every corner of the Village and we’re bored. In a few years, we’ll be 16, Ruby and me, and I think we need an adventure to celebrate. But sshh. Our secret, ‘kay?


Ruby thinks we could live there, like the expats in the 20s, and I say, why not? Wait tables at a sidewalk café or work at a bookstore. Just knowing Picasso and Hemingway lived there would be enough; I mean, we have our Beat Generation, but in a way I think they started it. The Lost Generation, I think that was the word they used and it all started with Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.

We just both need to learn French and I’ve already started. I try to get Sky and Blu to teach us and Blu tries, but neither one is very good at it. I did bring a book, though, so Rubes and I can go over our verbs.

J’attends, tu attends, nous attendons, vous attendez… we are all waiting for Paris. But. I promise you. We’re not going to Versailles or La Tour Eiffel, boring! We’re going to live like Scott and Zelda and Anais Nin. And like Ruby says Gertrude Stein said, “I write for myself and strangers.” That’s what Ruby’s going to do.

Ruby says 16 is too long to wait but they won’t let you go if you’re too young. And I keep telling her, we don’t know enough French yet.


J’attends. I’ve heard people stand in front of clothes stores when they get a new shipment like we wait on line here for the movies. And you could be waiting hours for a meal at a café, but nobody cares, because the idea is to sit and talk and of course, watch the world go by.

In Paris we won’t have to get up until noon. (I try to do that here on weekdays but Sky doesn’t like it.) I’m going to have the coolest clothes and Ruby will too. You really have to know fashion to live there so that’s another thing we have to bone up on.

Ruby says no; she says fashion isn’t cool. But come on, is there anything cooler than walking down the street in the Saint-Germain wearing something designed by Coco Chanel on your way to see Edith Piaf?!

Ruby says Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso and a whole bunch of other Beats are a lot cooler, and they’re are in Paris NOW at some rooming house, writing. Which is why she’s crazy to get there, of course.


But you know what, I say, we’ve got to stop thinking about it If we keep this up, we won’t be able to walk down Bleecker Street without going nutso. And Gordy’s making noise about getting an egg cream. Which isn’t a bad idea, and I don’t think they have those in Paris.

Yeah. It’ll have to do.

--Sophie Tanya

Paris: Russ Bowling
MetroPaul Arps