September 13, 2009

On the bench.

Every park in Paris has free wifi. Pretty impressive and useful. The other afternoon I was sitting working on a green painted bench in a little park just next to St. Augustin (Square Marcel Pagnol). The sun was out and so were the children after school. Across from me was a Frenchman who fit the part, his cardigan sweater tied around his neck forming an odd-shaped scarf. His posture was perfect - he was a specimen who already existed in my brain, but there he was sitting on the bench. So I took his photo.

Just next to me was this gal (above). She arrived looking as scowly as her tangled hair, sat down inspecting everyone around her (scowled at my bare feet) and then proceeded to lie down along the entire length of a bench and refused to budge when other bench-seekers appeared.

Then appeared sneakers. She was 7. She had a knotty ponytail, a unique way of tying her converses and the abandon of a girl still free from the confines of girlhood. I love girls at that age. I mourn for what they sometimes become and for what they leave behind. Sneakers took it upon herself to cook up an obstacle course and to convince all the other 7 year-olds to follow her act. First they ran frantic circles in the grass. Next it was the benches. They would run in a line to the benches, hop with both feet from the ground onto the seat of the bench and then with both feet again onto the back of the bench and then leap and tumble onto the grass.

Needless to say, the benches reverberated as a result. I was really taken by her - basically, I wanted to be her friend. First, it was her charisma - she had a long chain of kids following her, and second, it was the routine itself. I sat there smiling. But old scowly on my left was not won over. Not in the least. Every time the girls came to the bench portion of the obstacle course, scowly would let out a loud puff of air in the form of a complaint. She would even have little conversations with herself...starting phrases like "Mais quand même, eh!..." and "Ces petites filles qui..." and "Les parents sont...?" and then she would trail off having aired her opinion just enough to satisfy. She never directly talked to sneakers and her gang, asking them to maybe stop or consider the people sitting on the benches. I think her approach was more enjoyable to her. Bask in the discomfort and earn the claim to complain. She secretly loved what they were doing.

And then it was the lovely Mr. in his suit playing ping pong presumably with his grandkids. Very charming indeed.


Rosie said...

Children seem to be able to live like the rest of the world wishes it could! I am a little surprised you didn't join in, Em.

Xavier said...

I love the action there...the Grand-Father truly rocked there too!

Puzzles to Print said...

I just happened by and couldn't stop reading and looking. One stop and I'm addicted. Your blog is super fun - I'm bookmarking. Merci!

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