Thursday, 31 July 2008

He walked up onto the over-sized front porch of my favourite cafe in a 100 year old converted home. Late fifties to early sixties, crazy long grey thinning hair blowing wildly behind him. He had to have been a professor at one time, or perhaps worked in the arts. His attire gave him away. Particularly his sandals.

He approached the cushion lady.

Now let me explain the cushion lady. She graces the patrons with her presence, pretty much every meal and coffee break from what I can tell, because she is there almost every time I am regardless of the time of day. When she arrives whatever she sees, touches, tastes, smells, or sits on, near, or around belongs to her. I have learned this first hand after watching White Mocha get a talking down to for sitting on a chair she decided previously would be hers even before she was seated at the table. Oh ya, and she carries a pancake flat seat cushion wherever she goes. Hence, the cushion lady.

Well, the professor decided he would like to read one of the numerous daily papers sitting idle (and belonging to the cafe) on the table the cushion lady had just inhabited. Apparently the professor didn't know the cushion lady's rules and asked if he could read one of them. His request was denied! Apparently she can read five different papers all at once and wasn't willing to share.

He glanced in my direction, appearing to notice me for the first time. I had picked up a copy of "Le Droit" from the chair beside me and handed it out to him. I have no idea exactly what had been said in the previous exchange between the two, as it was in French, and I had my mp3 player on and couldn't actually hear their conversation clearly. In a quick and totally unexpected move the man reaches past the paper in my hand and grabs me mid arm with both hands and shakes me while laughing and repeating "The doit, Ahahaha!" Saying I was stunned would be an understatement. Apparently he didn't know I was English and from Ontario!

In Ontario all persons must leave a minimum two foot radius comfort zone around each individual. We don't touch other people! We're of British decent for goodness sakes! Do you see anybody touching the Queen!? A move like he just made could result in assault charges on my side of the river!

He takes the paper, at least I think he does, who the hell knows, I don't remember much other than sitting there with my mouth gaping open, listening while he chatters on a mile a minute as he sits down with a large smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. I have no idea what he is saying.

I put my head down and pretend to focus on my book. I can feel eyes boring into me from the table across as the cushion lady rises and moves down to visit with some other patrons, knowing that her papers and cushion will now be safe from the professor. I glance up out of the corner of my eye to see a broadly smiling professor toast me with his copy of "Le Droit." I look down quickly afraid that he might come over and shake me again. Bizzare.

The cushion lady bursts out in boisterous peels of laughter for all to hear. I realize that she is French and therefore somewhat louder than the English, (having a Francophone Grandmother, I'm allowed to say this) but she seems to be overdoing it. She seems to need to prove something to either the professor or myself. Whether it's that she can have what she's not currently using, or that she has people that actually like her somewhere, I'm not sure.

Quebec. What a weird little place.


Kurt said...

I was recently in Montreal, which I believe is in Quebec, and had a wonderful time. People were very nice to me, even though I'm an American pig.

richgold said...

Kurt, Montrealers are mostly from somewhere else, so you'd have fit in just fine.

PC, I think there's a play on words that the Professor picked up on. Could be he was implying that there was an inside joke there like you saying "ha, like Madame Cushion" has the right to behave that way!"