Au Pied de Fouet

Paris is a lot of things, you could say, but so is a jaguar. It’s beautiful. It’s patterned. It’s fast, and slow, and silent and patient, and impatient, and sturdy, and fearsome, and anything else. Only, if you walk away from meeting a jaguar and it was any of that to you, you’ve missed the point. Also, and not that it meant any offense, exactly, but that’s an insult to you. The insult is that the only reason you think of it as beautiful is because the jaguar never thought to hunt you, which means the jaguar, for some reason, decided you were not part of the jungle’s ecosystem.

I suppose Paris does share virtues with other kings of their territory, who also strike when its prey thinks it is at the height of its lucky day.

“Oh, mama!” the baby gazelle cannot help but to shout over the hushes of the herd. “Water! You know, too, that because the water is so still that there’s nothing in but refreshment.”

“You know what I could go for right now,” suggests the deep-water fish. “When was the last time we had one of those little glow worms? The kind we used to top our ice cream with? Oh. Oh my gosh. There’s one right there! I ought to…I ought to play the lottery today. What’s the jackpot?”

The reason that Paris is most like the jaguar is because it only shows its spots to those who are not of the jungle, unlike the crocodile, who sometimes swims in the open river. Also, once Paris has decided it wants you, you’re too late. The jaguar already knows your patterns. The jaguar doesn’t just set traps like the crocodile waiting in the water. You can jump high enough and run fast enough from the others, but once the jaguar decides it wants you, it already knows to where you will run. That means that from now on, everywhere else, once you leave Paris, will not be Paris, and torn, shredded, bitten, you will have to live with that.

There is but one option, and though I can’t ensure you’re survival, of course, I can offer you your best chance, and that is to become part of the jungle. Robin Williams from Jumanji knew it. He rolled that five, and then came the bats, and then the jungle took him, where he would either embrace it, and live by its rules, or regret it. Live the rest of your life in regret that you don’t have Paris, or you can admit you are a part of the jungle. Otherwise, you’ll never be free again.

That’s why tonight I’m at the bistro of Au Pied de Fouet, which is a twelve-minute walk from Rodin’s gardens. It’s dripping with Paris and the ecosystem that only exists outside of the sun, where the deep of the jungle exists. I could live the rest of my life in the outdoors in the sun in Paris and on my last breath would whistle a tune of a well-lived life. I’m just saying that’s the canopy of the jungle. That’s the shot from the helicopter of the sweeping waterfalls and green and the encroaching deforestation etc. etc. Dip beneath the canopy, where the sun doesn’t penetrate, where the sun can’t penetrate, and that is where another ecosystem lives, where the real noises and ecosystems and darkness and life and reforming of life exists. It’s the bistros of Paris where you’ll find Parisians being Parisians.

It was fall when I was here last and the drinks in fashion are no longer in fashion now in mid-summer. Now, we’ve spent all night in a heated dispute, the waiter and the cook and I, sampling drinks, trying to find a particular drink I have seen on the outdoor tables of obvious cool and hip Parisian girls.

It’s a couple of bottles of wine with no labels later when the waiter and I and the cook discover the cocktail for which I’ve been searching. Now, for the remainder of the trip, the only appearance of effort I’ll need at an outdoor cafe is when I’m crossing my legs in the Dean Martin fashion as I order. Take the number one rule of the jungle from the Leopard: When you are trying your hardest is when you must appear at your most lazy. Otherwise, the camouflage on the spots doesn’t work.