Current Essays

Being, and Not Being Thin On:2005-06-24 04:17:42

Since I now seem write most of my essays in our local café; I have become, in a deeply existential way, Plano's answer to Jean-Paul Satre; but without the pipe and unfortunately, I note, without all the groupies either. (Because Simon could never be confused with Simone even in a really bad light.) And (I suspect less because of my location than my groupielessness) all of a sudden food tends to loom large in my philosophy and I suspect that the eaten food looms larger than the uneaten, especially that food eaten over the last few decades by most of the other patrons of the café.

It's a sad fact that, in the absence of Montmatre's starving artists and absolutely famished philosophers (each no doubt in the presence of his own own Absinth1) and their replacement with so many definitely non-starving Texans of indeterminate artistry though enormously obvious essence, that there aren't many muscular 'six-pack' stomachs to be seen around here, they tend to be more, I dunnow, kegs, or to abandon beer metaphors (however unappetizingly accurate for our Texans) altogether and to revolt any Frenchmen who have the temerity or at least bad luck to be listening, I want you (and especially I want all those Frenchmen) to think rather of bulk wine boxes, or at least to think of them after you've taken them apart and thrown away their boxy parts, and by now you should be imagining the plastic bags of cheap wine that lurk and gurgle inside, and then only if you try, and try very hard, not think about those little tiny spouts the bags have. Yeuchchch! Now I've probably revolted all the non-Frenchmen too.

And before you can recover from your revulsion at that thought, and indeed so I can use that existing revulsion for cover, I suppose I should admit at this point the essential fact that ...that while I write I myself choose to eat, and indeed choose to eat strange (and even to me, habitué as I have become, they're somewhat strange)---these strange and nauseating bagel sandwiches: I force some poor barista to take a perfectly reasonable raisin-cinnamon bagel, sliced and lightly toasted, and then to torture it with various veggies piled thickly between its halves: halves that have in a horrifying display of bad taste been slathered with spicy mustard (this admittedly disgusting habit is one that I picked up not as you might suspect in the streets of Paris in '68, but instead in Ithaca, NY at College Town Bagels in '98 where the damn things were (at least when I was there) actually an item on the menu, but then we already knew what weird buggers they are down in Ithaca). But, and this is important, ...but I don't super-size it and I don't have it with Gaullist Free French Fries (which I suppose is for me a sort of French Resistance) and I do wash it down (Absinthe being pointedly absent as an item on the menus of quasi-dry Plano) with a fat-free laté (even though fat-free laté does seem to verge on being a contradiction in terms and we can just be thankful that it's not decaffeinated too or that side of the side-order would be a complete waste of time). The point of all this being that although my bagel is excessive, it is not immoderate! Each bagel truly maintains a decent En-Soi state for its meal and sod its essence and, pour les autres without any encouragement, since existence for bagel sandwiches may well come after essence, but potential comes before either and the memory lingers on, and I ask myself that most basic of café philosophical questions, "Where is the damn thing?".

And then, as I mused thusly the other Saturday, and the latest in my longish line of sandwiches finally existed, and was brought to me: and I forgot all about the wine bag Texans and their being and as I pulled out the little wooden stake that held the top half in place on its veritable vegetable leaning tower of bagel, it just struck me how much America has subscribed to the vampire slayer school of food preparation. Everything gets staked here---even I suspect steak! And that thought of course leads my by now drooling mind inevitably to the thought that a campaign to spare Undead Americans from the stake would be right up la rue de Jean-Paul.

Ça va pour ce moment
Richard Howland-Bolton


1.    "... presence of his own Absinth" As they say 'Absinth makes the heart grow fonder',
...or is it 'Absinth makes the brain grow blubber'?

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