Alone in Paris. Well, she wasn't exactly alone. Just two blocks away she had the safety net of her friends, one of whom had stayed behind in the hotel room this evening. But this girl, on this night wanted to wonder. She'd never minded exploring -- especially when the sun was up. But to be honest, and perhaps this was just her southern sensibilities surfacing. She didn't know if it was safe to be alone in the evening.
I am an adult now --she thought to herself-- I may not always have someone to take the evening with me. That cannot mean I never leave home. So with those thoughts in mind, she went.
She stumbled upon a cute little restaurant: Le Volant.
"Bonsoir, mademoiselle," A dark haired gentleman called out from the doorway.
"Bonjour," she responded, hopeful that she sounded confident.
The man did a half frown in confusion and tested, "Ça va bien?"
In her head she responded, "Oi, Çava bien," but those words got caught in her throat.
"English" he asked, French dripping from his accent.
"Oi," she smiled.
She walked into the small restaurant that was already packed with customers. There were some families, a few old friends seated together. There was a small pack of young adults celebrating something, perhaps a promotion. A couple starred starry-eyed at each other and a man in the back corner quickly devoured a novel between courses. And everything was in French, which meant that this was an adventure.
Her Parisian dinner started with a rabbit tartare. The waitress has served it with bread and banana peppers and, though the girl was unsure, she spread the rabbit on some of the fresh loaf and topped it with a pepper. Was she eating this appetizer properly? There was no way to be sure but the girl hoped she had pieced it together properly.
She was stunned when the rest of her food arrived. She had ordered the Beef Bourguignon and expected a small portioned plate with perhaps a small side of vegetables. Instead a devious waitress delivered three large bowls of sides, one filled with rice, one with mash potatoes, and the last with a dish she could only compare to cheese grits. The traditional French beef stew was served in a medium pot.
"bon appètit" the waitress said with a hint of sarcasm.
Oh boy, she thought, a tad overwhelmed. The girl began.
But the task was easier than she'd expected. Everything was delicious -- more than delicious--everything was perfect. The beef was perfectly tender, the rice light but flavorful, the mashed potatoes smooth, and the grits like portion was perfectly cheesey.
By the time the girl had finished as much as she could, she had downed three small glasses of red wine and was feeling quite tipsy.
Is this what it feels like to be French? She thought after taking a small sip of Bordeaux , or perhaps simply to be an adult.
One thing the girl knew for certain. If she couldn't top this meal with the one thing she'd come for, she was neither French nor adult.
She placed her final order and after a few minutes the most beautiful creme brule appeared before the girl.
"I am in Paris," she whispered. "I am alone in Paris."
She smiled as she took her first bite.