1st Arrondissement, Paris
We have a neighborhood fixture here on Rue St. Honore. Every neighborhood has one – the eccentric, strange, interesting, crazy or sometimes all of the above character. I saw Rue St. Honore's fixture the first day we arrived. He swished by us down the narrow cobble stoned street in his all black outfit that hung loosely from his thin frame, black leather gloves, sunglasses in winter on his tanned and aging face, his frosted blond hair coiffed perfectly in an eternal wave. I’ve seen him almost every day since we arrived. Always wondering where’s he’s going. Each time I see him I flash briefly into picturing the rest of his life - what does he do to make a living? Where does he go on his walks? Who does he spend his time with?
Today I had a run in with him again. I saw him when I hit the street in the fading sunlight on my way to meet Marie and her friend Paco at the Musee d’Orsay. I saw him coming towards me sauntering down my side of the street with his trademark Risky Business shades and his coiffed blond hair. I sensed him trying capture my gaze and I pushed on towards Ponts des Arts, avoiding his stare, to see the gauzy sunset over the Seine.
On the way home as I stood on the corner in the dark of Rue St. Honore waiting as Marie and Paco looked into a restaurant he appeared in my periphery stopping to talk to me pulling his shades to the top of his coiffed head revealing a purple and blackened eye as he shook my hand and asking “Comment ca va?”.
“Bien” I said wanting to ask about his eye, but not having the words “Et vous?”
“Ca va, merci. Au revoir.”
And he was off, dropping his shades back over his shiner, as Marie approached, asking me if I knew him.
postscript: Marie's sister says that he's the fashion designer Claude Montana.