petite anglaise

August 24, 2006

one lunch, or two?

Filed under: city of light, miam — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:22 pm

I am woken by a text message and realise that

beer + ill advised gin based cocktail because it was cheap in happy hour + beer + beer + beer + ?

is a disastrous equation which can only = feelings of nausea and throbbing pains behind the eye sockets.

The text message invites me to lunch. At 2pm. At the “Zéphyr”. It is 10am. The idea of eating food, even drinking water, is uninviting at this juncture, but I dare to hope that things may feel a little different in four hours’ time. And the message clearly reads “buy you lunch”. <a href="Le Zéphyr is rather nice, in that artfully shabby, old fashioned sort of way which Paris does so well. It’s even within walking distance of my house, which is a thoughtful touch. Such an offer cannot be refused. I text back “ok”, hoping my inability to type anything further will not be construed as rude.

Shortly before 2, I make a triumphant dive for the one available table on the raised decking outdoors. The sky is making a respectable attempt at blue, although experience over the past two weeks has proved that caution should be exercised. I inspect the awning overhead: it wouldn’t protect us from one of the bibilical style deluges Paris has been subjected to of late, but is better than nothing.

I take out my book and find my page. The fact that I have reached a section written in a sonnet sequence does not make it ideal hangover reading, but I perservere, wishing I had brought a Voici from the stack Mr Frog’s mother so thoughtfully brought to Paris. My friend calls to announce his lateness and I hunker down in my seat, unperturbed. It’s a nice spot, the sun is (almost) shining and I am determined to savour my well-deserved screen break. I don’t have a clue I have been waiting for almost three quarters of an hour until the waiter comes over to warn me that his lunch shift is almost over.

I panic and call my friend, and after some confusion – the menu seems to have changed since he last ate there – I order us both a steak and he promises to appear in time to eat it.

Ten minutes later he phones back (apparently not for the first time, but my phone is vibrating quietly in the depths of my bag, the sound indistinguishable above the grumble of passing traffic.)

“Hi, where are you? I can’t see you anywhere.”

“In Le Zéphyr, sitting out front!” I reply, craning my neck, seeing no sign of him on the pavement. In any case, the terrasse is now almost empty, I really shouldn’t be too difficult to spot.

Suddenly I realise what has happened here, and suppress a violent urge to bang my head against the window. Repeatedly.

“I’m guessing that there is more than one Zéphyr in Paris, am I right?” I sigh.

Indeed I am. My friend is at the Café Zéphyr, halfway across town, at Bonne Nouvelle. He doesn’t have his motorbike with him today. He could never manage to get here in time to eat his steak warm. This is officially A Fiasco.

As I reassure him, through gritted teeth, not to worry, that it will be fine, I’ll cancel his order, the waiter appears, bearing two plates.

The phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” springs cruelly to mind, as I start to wish I’d never crawled out of bed in the first place.


  1. Have Parisian eateries reached the stage where you can ask them to doggie-bag the extra steak?

    Heck, have they reached the stage where their steak is worth doggie-bagging?


    Comment by Mathieu — August 24, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  2. Ouch! Well at least you ordered the right thing for the day after — a steak! I know the feeling (at least regarding the day after and not wanted to leave my bed), even if the weapon that I would have chosen to get there most likely would have been cosmos.

    Hope the rest of your day is turning out better!

    Comment by Lost in France — August 24, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

  3. did you ever find out who raymond delauney was?

    Comment by Whisper — August 24, 2006 @ 8:51 pm

  4. I did not. No. Perhaps the trickster might like to come forward now?

    Comment by petite — August 24, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

  5. Awww…poor Petite! Hope you feel better soon… =)

    Comment by Rose — August 24, 2006 @ 9:13 pm

  6. Oh – at least you had a lot to eat.

    Comment by joeinvegas — August 24, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  7. Hello,
    I’m a Parisienne who lives place du Jourdain, just close to Le Zéphir.
    If it can make you feel better, even though I’m a true obsessed-by-my-city Parisian at heart, I would never have thought at Café Zéphir if I’d been told to meet at Le Zéphir.
    I’m glad though you liked the deck in front of the restaurant, it’s a nice little spot there.
    There is another good spot just near by :
    On the place du Jourdain, on the left-hand side of the church – it is a discreet 17th century narrow and low yet well-pampered house that hosts a café-tabac : La Gitane.
    There is a room on the 1st floor, and from there, you embrace the view of the center of the village Belleville once was – you actually face an impressive building: the ancient City Hall of Belleville.
    Just one floor above is just enough not to be overwhelmed by the buzz but close enough to feel part of it.
    One more pleasure to look forward to : they make a great café crème.

    Comment by Bennett — August 24, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  8. Ha! Very good story :)
    I often wonder what people did, back when mobile phones didn’t exist, to let someone know they’d be late, or ask where exactly they were. I guess before it was addicted to mobile phone, the human kind was just used to give more details when they scheduled a meeting with someone.
    I can’t remember doing that, seems like life without mobile phones was a billion years ago.

    Comment by pardonmyfrench — August 24, 2006 @ 10:19 pm

  9. Sacre bleu! What a cock-up! I wonder if your friend had two lunches at HIS venue?

    Comment by Keith — August 24, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

  10. Did you get to enjoy your lunch or book without it raining on you?

    Comment by Mad William — August 24, 2006 @ 10:31 pm

  11. I blame the mobile phone for the misunderstanding. There can be no other fault. LOL!

    Comment by Brennig Jones — August 24, 2006 @ 10:53 pm

  12. Next time, don’t order until you’ve seen the white’s of his eyes. Why is it that we put up with that stuff from our friends? Lovely blog and your hair looked great on R & J!

    Comment by Peggy — August 24, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

  13. Ugh…. That’s terrible. Chalk it up to a lesson learned.

    Comment by Diane — August 24, 2006 @ 11:00 pm

  14. Coincidentally, I did this exact same thing last week, and enjoyed an appetizer while sitting across town from my friend who was waiting for me! Unfortunately, I was not drunk or hung over, so I had no excuse except for the fact that my brain took a vacation.

    I hope you were able to box up your steaks and take them home. At least if you have to eat leftovers, you’ll be eating in style!

    Comment by Neila — August 24, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

  15. Bugger!

    Comment by Greg — August 25, 2006 @ 12:17 am

  16. Fernet Branca is good for a nausea type hangover!

    Can’t remember the last time I had steak and you get two!!!

    Wish we had some decent “eateries” round here but it’s all fields and sheep!


    Comment by Tattieheid — August 25, 2006 @ 12:29 am

  17. Oh dear…I felt for you whilst reading this. But I agree with Lost In France – at least it was steak!

    Comment by lilacstripe — August 25, 2006 @ 12:30 am

  18. I have come to the conclusion,after a lifetime of being effortlessly bilingual, that i might not be as bright as previously thought. Maybe i am your match in terms of bilingualism but cannot always relate to the inconsequent/fascinating events of your life. Yet, fuelled by your enthusiasm and your exquisite fascination of words, i have decided to make the relevant enquiries to start my own blog. You may like it. In fact I secretly think you will…
    One may call it hope. Too soon in my opinion to sum mon divinities…. when your blog will do just fine !

    Comment by Christophe — August 25, 2006 @ 12:36 am

  19. Wow, I marvel at your ability to even consider eating steak the morning after the night before. It’s normally orange juice, dry toast and a paracetemol for me. Lisa

    Comment by Lisa — August 25, 2006 @ 1:14 am

  20. Take it home. Yum, yum!!!!

    Comment by Julie — August 25, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  21. How many pints have been drunk by people sitting in pubs waiting for someone who is sitting in another pub of the same name, waiting folornly? Maybe this is why restaurants often get such odd names.

    This enigmatic poem floated through my window:

    Under a lady, money
    Anon Ray, ye Muddle
    Am rudely Annoyed.

    Only a dreamy nude
    Damned nearly you
    Raymond Delauney

    I fear the Trickster is not coming forward.

    Comment by Andrew — August 25, 2006 @ 1:40 am

  22. petite,
    How very clever to take a catastrophe and turn it into a comedy of errors piece.

    Hope you are feeling more like yourself now ;-)

    Comment by rel — August 25, 2006 @ 2:30 am

  23. don’t you just hate the stress of it? As I write this I am supposed to be across town for a business lunch with people I don’t even like…… sigh…

    Comment by simon — August 25, 2006 @ 3:57 am

  24. Ill advised is right. All that perfectly good beer ruined with one nasty discounted cocktail. *sigh* At least you should have enough food around that you won’t have to leave the house during your recuperation.

    Comment by Sophmom — August 25, 2006 @ 4:14 am

  25. Beef is good for a hangover. My favorite hangover remedy is the “hangover hamburger” — but it has to be a good quality burger, not that swill from McDo’s. And I have to eat it AFTER I’m over the nausea stage and onto the blinding, brain-screaming headache stage.

    Feel better. It’s been a long time since I had one of those but I remember them all too well.

    P.S. Everyone think positive thoughts or send prayers for me because I think my move to Paris may FINALLY be shaping up into something serious. I’ve got a line on a great apt. in Vincennes (with terrace view of Eiffel) and working on the financing and visa paperwork now. I may finally be able to attend the next Blogue-t-il and meet you all in person in a few months’ time. Let’s hope for the best, it’s not a done deal quite yet.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — August 25, 2006 @ 5:08 am

  26. Did you bring home some for Tadpole?

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — August 25, 2006 @ 5:58 am

  27. That’ll learn ya, Petite!

    Cost Of Not Having Lunch At Trendy Place:

    Hangover = $__ (amount spent last night)

    Snarky french waiter thinking “woman stood up – how pitiful – there goes my tip” = humiliation

    Paying for 2 steak lunches = fortnight of tinned fish dinners

    Possibility of friend doubting cred of writer who feels she owns the city = Much ribbing of writer,followed by gift(to writer)of Zagat/Michelin guide,along with street map of Paris.


    Some days, it LITERALLY doesn’t pay to get out of bed!

    Comment by Belle — August 25, 2006 @ 6:29 am

  28. Oh wow….that really stinks! On the bright side, you were able to eat/read in peace :)

    Comment by Kat — August 25, 2006 @ 6:56 am

  29. “Bonne Nouvelle”, indeed!

    But since your friend is also, I imagine, a reader of your blog, now that he knows you had to pay for both of you, he will invite you twice, surely?

    Comment by Choubine — August 25, 2006 @ 7:50 am

  30. I guess you should trust your instinct after all and not venture out when in hangover state!…But hope your friend is gentleman enough to make it up to you?

    Comment by May — August 25, 2006 @ 8:59 am

  31. I assume that the culprit will read this and buy you two lunches?

    Comment by James H — August 25, 2006 @ 9:38 am

  32. Hello, I’ve just been introduced to your web site through expatica, you write extremely well, it flows and is also very interesting. I hope a publisher picks up on this to give you a book deal especially after the loss of your job – finding employment in France is not easy.

    So having been introduced I took time to read some of your past articles, which were also really good. However, I was surprised to read comment No 19 on 14th August from Mimi – this isn’t suitable language to use with your best friend, even less so when writing in the public domain. I’m not surprised that all comments now go to moderation; keep them clean and intelligent please! Good luck for the future. Sorry I missed you on R&J, you can receive it in France by the way via Sky Digibox.

    Comment by Louise Ralston — August 25, 2006 @ 9:49 am

  33. Hey, Petite… ever thought about getting around Paris by bike?


    Comment by TCA — August 25, 2006 @ 10:11 am

  34. Récemment une amie m’a donné rendez-vous aux Batignolles à coté de l’église. Evidemment nous avons visé chacun une église différente et avons diné plutôt tard mais néanmoins ensemble. J’ai remarqué la nourriture et des repas sont une source privilégiée d’inspiration chez vous, de plaisir aussi sans doute.

    Comment by Monsieur Prudhomme — August 25, 2006 @ 10:36 am

  35. oops

    Comment by Tom Amos — August 25, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  36. That was funny — reminded me of a day way back when I was 13, and my friend Joanne called. She wanted to know if I wanted to the movies. OK, so an hour later, the doorbell rings, and it’s not the Joanne I expected. It was the Joanne who was on my friend’s and mine shit list that week. The JOanne no one wanted to be seen with that week. I excused myself to say goodbye to my mom, and almost in tears told my mother what happened. She said “Be a friend and go, you’ll be friends with her by the end of next week anyway.”. I was so glad we were in a dark movie theater for 2 hours. Teenagers can be so mean (I mean me and my friends of course). Don’t worry I was on the shitlist too at one time or another, wrong hairstyle or something. Make sure Tadpole doesn’t pull THAT with her friends.

    Comment by magillicuddy — August 25, 2006 @ 10:47 am

  37. I think I know what Louise is referring to, and I did agonise over that one. But Mimi is a friend, and an incurable potty mouth, and I just couldn’t press “delete”… it was too funny.

    Comment by petite — August 25, 2006 @ 10:58 am

  38. I know it isn’t very classy, but coke and KFC cure even the worst hangover symptoms.

    Comment by Natasha — August 25, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  39. No 33… Hey TCA are you really looking for recruits in france!???? :o) great!!

    Comment by simon — August 25, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  40. This is going to turn into “one of those stories” that will stock your ammunition bag for the round of “you’ll never guess what happened to me” stories that seem to occur at social gatherings.

    Comment by Jonathan — August 25, 2006 @ 11:49 am

  41. sometimes it’s much easier to pick up the phone and ring the other person rather than texting.

    Comment by Banana — August 25, 2006 @ 11:51 am


    Reminds me of the time when, still under the influence of one too many gin and tonics from the night before, I boarded a coach heading in the opposite direction to where I actually wanted to be. I realised this 10 minutes before the Coach arrived at its destination (3 hours after it had set off).

    Gin has an incredible knack of muddling everything up, don’t you think?

    Comment by northerncreative — August 25, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

  43. Hey gal, you can write nice!

    I have been keenly following your postings for the past couple of months, but it’s this latest post that has triggered me to send a comment-largely because I learnt long before you that nothing is free!


    Comment by Moses — August 25, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

  44. Funny, I’d never have thought that petite ladies in Paris actually drink beer – and even tell the tale :-)

    Comment by alcessa — August 25, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

  45. Did a similar thing – unfortunately with a job interview – (wrong head office) – needless to say I didn’t get the job, but for ****’s sake who has 2 head offices?!
    Language edited to comply with Mary-Louise Ralston-Whitehouse. Perhaps we should be grateful that after meeting Dave Gorman, the blog isn’t being commented on by most stand-up comics. And please for the love of Mary, no-one give her the url of GWAOTM, another fabulous blogeuse outed by the press and subsequently losing her job.
    Not intending to cause offence, however everyone has the right to express themselves as they see fit, including my pompous self, but who has the right to censure? In my book, only HER upstairs.

    Comment by j — August 25, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  46. “Her upstairs” being me? I have not only the right, but the responsibility actually. I am legally liable for the content of comments, and can theoretically be sued if someone crosses the line. So, on my head be it.

    Comment by petite — August 25, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  47. I’m a big Dave Gorman fan but was surprised to see his name crop up here. I didn’t know you had a link to him Petite. What’s this all about?

    Comment by Helen — August 25, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  48. Funny enough, I am sat at work in London, reading the news back in Bulgaria where they are quoting you in an article. Interesting… is mainly due to your job loss as the article explains the dangers of blogs as well as adding that your style of writing seems to be close to the Bridget Johns style. hope this is a complement rather than anything else.

    Anyway….good luck for the future

    Comment by KICIta_ — August 25, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

  49. OK, so hands up anyone who didn’t laugh at Mimi’s comment on 14th August?

    The surprise was part of the fun, I thought.

    Comment by Claire — August 25, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  50. [raising hand] i did, i did! and i don’t even know who those people are.

    as for today’s post, i fully blame text messaging for this one. if it was’t such a hassle to peck out “café zéphyr @ bonne nouvelle”, this never would have happened. why didn’t your friend just call, anyway? it was after 10am, even!

    Comment by franko — August 25, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

  51. I like the theoretical part, the trick being : sued by someone who would be located where ?

    Comment by aymardo — August 25, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  52. Hmmm….why is it that the more one drinks, the more one becomes susceptible to the “ill advised” cocktail? I’ve had mornings like that, and I envy your ability to even get out of bed, let alone go to a cafe for lunch.

    Comment by Adam — August 25, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  53. Love you, love your writing, love the fact that you live in the beautiful city of Paris… oh and my hangover remedy a little vodka martini.

    Comment by noirangel — August 25, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  54. I think it was a typo.

    Actually, Judy likes it in the ears.

    Comment by James H — August 25, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  55. Louise Ralston sounds like a pain in the arse, which, given the subject matter she was offended by made me laugh even more. Go Mimi!

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 25, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  56. hmm. gin is almost as bad as tequila.

    Comment by Lost in France — August 25, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

  57. Her upstairs was referring to an omniscient,omnipotent, omnipresent spiritual entity/entities by whatever name you choose to give such a concept. (Don’t think I’ve libelled any faith group there, so should be ok for the so sue me brigade).
    Not sure about giving Kevin Ellis the information that you can be sued though, but you should be OK as the reputable brands of toilet roll tell me your name is K***, not Sue.
    Apologies, am obviously off on one at the moment.

    Comment by j — August 25, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

  58. Of course Mimi’s wonderfully scatological subversions should be encouraged. And what’s not to like about Petite’s permissive nannying – it’s almost buddha-like in it’s loving-compassion towards us virtual people.

    Disappointed no-one noticed Raymond Delauney appeared six times in my poem. Maybe he doesn’t cut the garlic in these exalted literary circles.
    Am I heading for a ban? I’ll get me cloak…

    Comment by Andrew — August 25, 2006 @ 7:57 pm

  59. im sorry, but i would bip him into Italy….

    Comment by jackie — August 26, 2006 @ 9:21 am

  60. oh, 45, 55 – by the way – from Mary Louise – if you bother to take the time to read your contract (presuming you live in France and can read) your server reserves the right to terminte your internet connection if you are found using or forwarding any offensive language in your e-mails and take any action they consider correct against you.

    As La Petite says, it’s a sad World we live in but a real one – unfortuntely comment 46 is correct.

    Comment by Louise Ralston — August 26, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  61. Bien que Louise Ralston ait raison au niveau légal, il me semble qu’en vue de ton amitié avec Mimi, il aurait été impardonnable de ta part d’avoir censuré son commentaire.

    Il faut dire aussi que les remarques de Mimi sont moins blessants, puisque faits de manière générale et avec humour, que ceux de Louise envers j (le 45)…

    Comment by Kleiner Feigling — August 26, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  62. Louise Ralston: offence is in the eye of the beholder, and nobody is forced to read this site. But you’re not the first person to come here and adopt a hectoring tone, and no doubt you won’t be the last.

    And why the “La”? Even if you live in France and can read.

    Comment by Claire — August 27, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  63. For Gods sake Kleiner, can’t you speak English? I can’t understand a word your saying.

    Comment by Cedric — August 27, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  64. Vielen Dank, petit lache.

    Comment by j — August 27, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  65. we still don’t know by the way if judy loves it up the ****. So PLEASE stop turning around it and give us the answer. There are others matters.
    (excusez mon anglais approximatif)

    Comment by 4 roses — August 27, 2006 @ 7:07 pm

  66. I find Babel Fish quite useful at turning froggy into English. It makes of Kleiner’s(61) comments –
    “Although Louise Ralston is right at the legal level, it seems to to me that in the sight of your friendship with Mimi, it would have been unforgivable of your share to have censured its comment. It should be also said that the remarks of Mimi are less wounding, since made in a general way and with humour, that those of Louise towards J (45)”
    Hmm…I think I get it.

    It’s even more fun to translate a complex English passage into French and then back again. Keeps me amused for hours.

    “Judy likes it in the ears.”

    I like the way James(54) moves the plot on, and up, to ‘aural’ sex…

    Comment by Andrew — August 27, 2006 @ 11:33 pm

  67. re 62:

    Or even the hairy eye of the beholder!

    Comment by tony — August 28, 2006 @ 12:37 am

  68. No hectoring tone intended, as a language teacher I’ll recommend the site to my students for the English content as it’s extremely well written but no need to waste time leaving comments for me as I won’t be reading them anymore – better things to do. Good luck, hope you find a new job soon – Paris is certainly the place to be, it’s full of opportunities.

    Lou lou

    Comment by L — August 28, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  69. James H. You’re wrong,I’ve made enquiries – actually its a hearse. Eew!

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 28, 2006 @ 10:07 am

  70. Tut, tut, I’ve spotted one of those rare spelling errors. Para 3, line 4, that should read “unperturbed”. Presumably a proof reader will correct this kind of mistake in the book.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — August 28, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  71. Lou Lou – no need to waste time leaving comments for me as I won’t be reading them anymore – better things to do.

    Parting is such sweet sorrow.

    Comment by Andrew — August 30, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

  72. Lou Lou…No need to waste time leaving comments for me as I won’t be reading them any more – better things to do.

    It is too rash too unadvised too sudden!

    Comment by Susannah — August 31, 2006 @ 12:30 am

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