It was a gorgeous sunny day and very mild for March, a perfect day to walk in Paris, when the bus from the International School released a load of teachers at Place de la Concorde. My friend, having lived in Paris for a while, was serving as my affable tour guide. She and I were planning to spend the day in Saint Germain des Près, because it is “way cooler” (her words, but of course, after having spent the day there, I’d have to agree) than some of the other areas of the beautiful City of Lights.
The first place we headed was to the famed Deux Magots, a café with a long history. It is best known for having been a hangout of intellectuals and artists, Hemingway, Picasso, and Sartre among them. If you want to know more, the café’s website is a wealth of information, and you can even read it in English! (I’ve provided the link below for those who want to check it out.)
Anyway, as my friend and I are oenophiles (that’s wine-lovers on a good day; winos on a bad one — this was a good day, by the way), we parked ourselves at one of the tables outside and ordered a couple of glasses of red wine. The waiter was a very nice young fellow who was busily waiting on at least ten tables, most of them having food with their wine, or wine with their food; it’s hard to tell the difference in Paris. We were a little hungry but the menu was a bit pricey, so we decided not to break the bank. We would enjoy our wine then go have a nice meal elsewhere. We liked the atmosphere so much (and the wine) that we sat there for quite a while then ordered another glass.
While we were waiting for the waiter to get around to bringing our second glass of the grape, I noticed something floating in the last couple of swallows of wine in my glass. I picked up the glass and looked more closely. “Oh no,” I said to my friend, “there’s a bug in my wine!”
“Well, maybe he’s enjoying himself,” my friend said, eyes glued to the Parisians and tourists passing by.
I looked more closely down into the goblet. “No. I don’t think so.” It was a tiny, little fly, and he was looking pretty ragged. “I think he’s drowning.”
“What?” she asked absently. My friend clearly didn’t understand the gravity of the situation.
“Seriously. He’s drowning. I’m gonna try to get him outa there.”
Now she looked over at me as I held the wine glass up and looked at the piteous little fly, trying valiantly to grasp hold of the slippery glass. Incredulous, she reproached me. “Sunny. Just leave it. It’s just a fly.”
“Well, I know, but I have overdeveloped empathy for animals and most living things, remember?” We had just been talking about my aforementioned empathy, as a matter of fact. I could almost feel her eyes roll as I took a napkin and tore a piece off. I stuck it down in the goblet and started fishing for that little fly, who was starting to stop swimming. He was definitely headed for the bottom.
“You’re never gonna get him with that. He’s not going to climb on the napkin.”
“Yes… I… will,” I said, already concentrating intensely, carefully maneuvering the napkin and the goblet, trying to get the fly to grab hold. Tip the glass a little, move the napkin this way, then that, tip the glass a little more, position the napkin slightly under, and… voilà! Even I was surprised at how quickly he managed to get one of his legs on the wine-soaked corner of the napkin! I pulled him out, then I gingerly set him on the placemat, pulling the drenched bit of napkin away from him.
“Well, will you look at that,” said my friend.
“I told you I’d get him out,” I said proudly, smiling with an I-told-you-so expression as I looked her squarely in the face. We both, oblivious to the people walking by on the famous Paris street, turned our attention back to the little fly and watched him begin to recover. His movements were somewhat wobbly, I assume because he was drunk.
I looked at my nearly empty goblet .“Well, I’m going to need a new glass. An altogether new glass.” About that time, the waiter rushed by and I said to him, in French, “Excuse me, I need another glass.” Remember, now, we had already ordered a second round of wine.
“Oui, oui, deux minutes,” he said brusquely, hurrying off to another table.
My friend, who speaks French better than I do, started laughing and said, “Well, he thinks you’re desperate for wine!”
I laughed, too. “Yeah, that came out wrong, didn’t it?” By now we were both cracking up and she was mocking me, “j’ai besoin d’un autre verre!”
I said, through my chuckles and chortles, “I’ll explain to him what I meant when he comes back.”
A minute or more went by and my friend looked back at the fly. “Oh, look,” she remarked, “he’s starting to dry himself off.”
And indeed he was, rubbing his tiny legs and wings the way flies do. The next thing you know, he was airborne and gone. I looked at my friend with a triumphant smile on my face. She looked back, a little disgusted. “Well, you know the waiter’s never going to believe you now.”
“What?” I looked at her blankly.
“The waiter. If you try to explain this to him, he’ll think you’re trying to get a free glass of wine.”
“What?” I repeated stupidly. “Oh, no.” Realization hit me. “He will, won’t he?”
“Yes, he will.”
I looked toward the street, considering this, and then back at her. We both giggled.
When the harried waiter returned, with two new, CLEAN, glasses of wine, I said, “Thank you, but what I meant was that I needed a clean glass because a fly was in mine.”
“Oh!” he said with a raised eyebrow and a knowing half-smile. “But, Madame, it flew in there after I brought it to you.” With a snigger, he ran off to wait on another table, leaving us two fly-free glasses of wine.
Click Les Deux Magots to be directed to the restaurant’s website.