One particularly crisp fall evening, when excitement was in the air, Spyros decided to show us the Cafe de Flore, taking into consideration our interest in the arts.

In a more low-profile diversion than the one portrayed in this story, Jan Wejchert, left, of Waldoboro enjoys a North Nobleboro Day celebration with his brother, Mark, right. Photo courtesy of Jan Wejchert

It was Paris, 1971. We had escaped to Europe to commence a new life.

When we arrived at the cafe, the front windows were folded back to allow a view of the street. We got a table on the left, about halfway back, close to a table of blonde German kids. I remember the place being covered in much-too-dark, much-too-ornate wood paneling. And mirrors.

We chatted a bit, Spyros talking it up on the side with one of the blondes, fishing for a tryst, I surmised. We were into our third round or so when Spyros suddenly DECIDED, rather loudly, for the benefit of the Germans, I presume, that the place was a tourist trap, and that we would refuse to pay the bourgeois and extortionist prices they were charging us. We were walking out. On three. What Spyros did not see was that the bouncer was hovering behind him as he was making his pronouncement.

So, Spyros came to three, Denice and I got up and walked out and looked around for Spyros. No Spyros. There, back inside the cafe, by our table, grappling in the arms of the bouncer, was Spyros, struggling to escape. I stood there, and flashed through the decisions we had made; we decided not to pay, Spyros had foolishly decided to be vocal and declare our intent, Spyros had decided he could easily disappear wearing an African djellaba. Questionable choices, all. A crowd formed in the street; I organized a chant calling for Spyros’ freedom.

Observing all of this, meanwhile, in the back corner of the cafe had been a dapper gent in a tux. With him sat four beautiful women. The man called over the maitre d’ to inquire, I presume, about the cause of all the ruckus. The man pulled a billfold from his jacket and proceeded to pull out some bills, giving a few to the maitre d’.

I assumed that Mister Tuxedo merely wanted to get rid of us so he could resume his night on the town with his lady friends, as Spyros was stealing his thunder. But then another thought occurred to me. Perhaps Mister Tuxedo was recalling his youth, perhaps recalling similar escapades of his own, and was shedding an inner tear of nostalgia for what we were trying to pull off. That’s why he paid our bill. Out of recognition that we were cut from the same cloth. Perhaps, I surmised, in his youth, he might have made a similar choice.

Spyros, now being free to go, instead of promptly rejoining us in the street, decided to head back to the man in the tux, proceeded to bow in front of Mister Tux and, to the man’s horror, tried to kiss his hand. Finally, the bouncer managed to direct Spyros out to the street.

The ruckus was over. We gathered ourselves. As a light mist swept the cobblestone streets, like excited horses returning to the barn, our clopping boots sometimes broke into a gallop on our way back to Spyros’ cold-water garret and its sixth-floor view of the undulating rooftops of Paris.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: