Remark Records, 1996
"You need to shave your beard."
William looked through Natalia’s face, wondering why she decided to bring this up today. It was their first trip to Paris and they were only two days into a ten day trip. They hadn’t really visited any of the touristy attractions yet. William was beginning to think that all Natalia cared about was sitting in front of cafés, looking French.
"The beard: it’s no good."
The fresh spring breeze crept its way through William’s face. He noticed his beard. The blonde and brown mass moved with the wind and he felt unnerved. William scratched his face and took a sip of his water while Natalia sipped at her cappuccino and gently pulled apart her croissant. Her sunglasses obscured her emotion and, to him, her maroon scarf only made her look more like an asshole, even though it complemented her tar-black hair.
Through the darkened sunglasses, Natalia looked directly at William. All she could see was a handsome face buried beneath a blanket of hippie. She liked beards - the rough, gallant, hipster kind, not the Phish tour, beer-drinking, tie-dyed kind. There were far too many men in Paris that fit into the posh look - at once let-go, yet manicured. There’s a fine line, she thought to herself.
William, still bothered by Natalia’s words began looking around. He tried to forget the ridiculous interaction. He looked behind their small outdoor table, casing the area. They were at the Café de Flore, a reasonably infamous Parisian institution. This didn’t matter to William, though.
The tables in front of the café, where William and Natalia were sitting, were populated by natives and tourists alike donning their early spring clothes, women carefully prepared for the emerging warmth by combining smart layers, men sporting lighter coats, some accompanied by scarves of deep blue and red - the colors of Paris-St. Germain F.C.
Everyone looks like a fucking model, William thought, even the old guys.
"Did you know that Jean-Paul Sartre woud come to this café and sit, just like us? He would write here. That’s just amazing to me."
"What? Who’s that?"
Natalia drew a cigarette from her purse and lit it. She took a drag and exhaled a billowy cloud of exhaust into the crisp morning air and adjusted her scarf.
" Sartre. He’s a writer - a famous one."
"Since when are you into writers? Wait, why do I need to shave?"
William and Natalia stared at one another and each, like a pair of dancers performing their own routine, thought to themselves: I have eight more days of this?