The wife and I are both working part time. Instead of one of us staying home, or sending our child to daycare, we take turns watching the baby. So, while Wini works Monday through Wednesday, I strap the baby to my chest with one of them hippy wraps, and hang out in town.
One of my regular stops, of course, is the Florian’s Coffee bike. Perhaps you are unaware, but coffee in France generally sucks—most places use automatic espresso machines which they never clean. Old pods in a dribbling robot do not a good espresso make. But, my boy Guillaume (of Florian’s Coffee fame) makes some mean espresso.
Hanging out with the street drink & food crew in center-city has its perks—you know, like street drink and street food. Also, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the regular street performers, guys who choose to live a mobile life, with a hat for a wallet. Recently, there has been this group of three guys who are particularly cool. They typically improvise impressively with two guitars and an accordion, but aren’t above juggling and devil-sticking for spare change.
Today, Zadie and I went to the Coffee bike to find one of the guitarists with someone new—a street clarinetist. After a few songs, the guitarist had to run off to buy more Proverbs 31 Beer, so he handed me his guitar to play a bit while he was gone. It’s hard to play a guitar with a baby strapped to your chest, by the way. But, I managed to get through a sad repertoire of 90’s modern rock songs while the clarinetist improvised over my shaky chords.
Just having finished playing Losing My Religion, a girl approached me. “I know it must be really difficult. What happened to the mother?” she said as she tossed a coin into the clarinet player’s hat. Because my French sometimes runs on a delay, it took me two measures to realize that she thought I was a single father, providing for a baby by poorly playing R.E.M. singles on the street. “She’s working?” I replied, using the interrogative because I wasn’t aware anything had happened to her.
The clarinetist shrugged as we went into a sweet rendition of Wonderwall. This time a man came up with his camera. “May I take a photo?” he asked. With a nod, he took a picture of the three of us—me with a guitar, clarinet guy with a clarinet, and Zadie on vocals (she mostly scats right now). He threw a Euro in the hat, looked at me and Zadie, and said “It’s for milk.”