Leaving dinner at a friend's spacious apartment at Denfert-Rochereau tonight, I missed the last # 68 bus by a hair. There's a taxi stand next door, so I opted for a comfortable and swift ride home rather than attempting the circuitous two-transfer (correspondance) possibility on the métro. In the evening I try to never make a trip on the métro involving more than one connection -- my personal Parisian peeve.
It was raining, and I scurried across the cobblestones to the taxi stand where a car was idling. As I hopped in the cab on the street side, a Street Fellow in a frayed tweed jacket, bobbing on the sidewalk as he chatted with the cab driver, teased me tipsily, "Oh, you -- you're taking away my friend. We were having an important discussion. But that's okay, you're pretty enough. My name is Didi. What's your name?"
"Moi? Je m'appelle Madame Qui-Est-Fatiguée," I responded jovially but curtly. "Bonsoir!" The taxi driver rolled up his window, put the car in gear, and we scuttled off down boulevard Raspail.
The chauffeur gave me some background on the guy. "He's not a bad type, you know," he said. "He would be a regular person, but he's like this because had some problems with family inheritance He let his stepfather take everything when his mother died, and now he's a clodo (a bum). He leaves Paris for a few months to do travaille saisonnière, like the vendange. The rest of the time he pisses away his days in Paris, panhandling and drinking 50-cent beers all day long. It's a shame. But, you know, he doesn't look too bad for someone who has no roof over his head -- he's only 52, and he looks better than I do, and I'm 56 with a steady job. Every night the police cars come around to collect all the homeless and take them to shelters to sleep. Then in the morning, these guys all return to their regular spots -- we people in the neighborhood are like family to them."