Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Christine's colorful admirer

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in the City of Light, Christine introduced me to one of her old-time admirers from the world of books.

This colorful gentleman, named Pascal, started his professional activities by pushing a trolley around the Latin Quarter and collecting unwanted books from shops. Then he would sell them to tourists. Today, he's a celebrated merchant with an outdoor stall on the Right Bank of the Seine. And filmmakers hire him regularly for small roles in movies about Paris.

Pascal owns a house in Normandy where he grows roses. He even told us his secret for the rapid creation of vast rose gardens. You simply push freshly-cut rose twigs into the earth, and about twenty percent of them finally grow into bushes with flowers. Besides roses, Pascal has lots of apple trees, and he transforms the fruit into a Normandy specialty: strong Calvados spirits, which is just the stuff you need to keep yourself warm when you're standing outside all day selling books.

From what I gather, Pascal decided long ago that his colleague Christine (who once had a bookshop in the Latin Quarter) would be the ideal woman in his life... but his dreams have not yet come to fruition. As a token of his constant affection, he presented Christine with a precious gift: a wine bottle full of his genuine homemade Calvados. Inside his stall, Pascal appeared to have a certain supply of warming beverages, which could be accessed by moving aside a few books. In the course of a normal working day, I suspect that Pascal probably moves those books aside quite a few times. To be honest, I should explain that, when we met up with him, at about two o'clock in the afternoon, Pascal had almost certainly not yet touched a drop of the strong stuff from Normandy. A glass beneath his shelves of old books revealed that he was still at the red wine stage.

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