Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A La Bella Poutina

I found my poutina last night for dinner. Not as good as the ones that are sought at the market at daybreak, that glisten with reds, oranges and greens and kept fresh in the family fridge until just before they swim in burning oil, these were a little soft to the touch and looked like a bucket of fried minnows. Despite the appearance, they tasted pretty good and I ate a mezclun mix along with them.

The manager of the restaurant refused to let me film anything in his restaurant, prompting me to remember the credo that it is often easier to ask for pardon than for permission, because at least you end up getting some of what you want. One of the things I wish to have filmed last night was the style of dress of the waitress who served me. She reminded me a bit of my high school French teacher, likely a street smart girl who could kick ass when necessary and with the lithe body needed to do just that. This lady was dressed in flip-flops, camouflaged black and grey pants and a very colorful sleeveless shirt depicting in almost lifesize format a photo of the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus, complete with crowns/halos. On her head, she had tied a scarf that matched the camouflaged color of her pants and her hair was just exactly perfect for the overall image: Ecclesialista, or maybe Christian Paramilitary Swat team member. I called her over to my table and told her that I really found her outfit to be worthy of a photo or two, but that I was sad to have been forbidden to take photos in the place.

The second thing that came to me as an idea of filming is the fact that I am pursuing the concept freedom in the world. As I was eating my fried minnows, I looked up to find a couple of fish tanks with goldfish swimming around inside them. It occurred to me that on a day that my freedom included the eating of fried minnows, it was a very good day for my liberty, but on that day, the fried minnows were being oppressed in a way that I can only justify by not imagining them as creatures with faces and energy, but rather as fishy-flavored french fries.

Not long into my meal, I was awash in a euphoria to be back in Nice, thinking of what my life had been like at 17 years of age and how uncomplicated everything must have been. I know I created my own dramas even then, but I could not have imagined the kinds of things that would happen to me in a mere 8 years later.

As I sat there eating alone, the radio began playing Cyndi Lauper's cover of "Time After Time" and it was all I could do to contain my emotions. I had a flashback to the last time I ate seafood and salad with a friend. It was in the rural eastern shore of Virginia, in a gourmet restaurant called "Le Canard" and Donald and I had just eaten a fantastic salad of grilled shrimp and greens. Donald suddenly pushed back from the table and announced, "I fucking hate frisée!". He threw his fork down into a pile of the curly lettuce as a sign of his disgust.

That memory, having been stirred, continued to swirl through my brain as I heard Cyndi singing about how if one calls, she would be waiting. I experienced the thought of my friends waiting invisibly out there as guardian angels, but with their physical presence so sadly missed and their absence so plainly obvious. The thoughs became quite difficult. I had to really hold it together and to avoid the look of the waitress when she brought my next course of dinner. The thing is, I know that Donald would have enjoyed being with me and I think his presence was making itself felt, even if only in my own mind.

I finished my meal and strolled down to Vieux Nice to see the old town and the hillside overlooking the city with its illuminated fountains. The views were beautiful, especially from the side of the sea where there were street performers and skaters and young couples coming and going. Nice at night, with a cool breeze blowing in August....eh bien là!

It was a good day, natural beauty, comedy, good food, and nostalgia. Full service, full spectrum living at its best can not be beaten.

Today, I must seek out a new wind-break for my microphone. The last one, although great for protecting from wind, was too light-weigh to hold onto the microphone during heavy wind. While doing an interview, I watched it fly off the end of my mic, never to be seen again. Tant pis! I will have to find and buy a new one.



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