May 14th, 2011


There's a guy who comes into the Vert Anglais for a cup of coffee or two every night. He has one of those faces where it's hard to tell how hold he is. He could be my age, five years younger than me or 10 years older than me.

He has long dark hair and wears a black jacket, black pants and crisp white shirt every night.

We've talked before, but never about personal stuff. The stuff that guys in bars bring up. The weather. The pretty girls or ridiculous looking people who walk by. That kind of stuff.

The other night he came in with a little blond boy who was about four or five years old. I asked him if he was his son.

With pride he told me it was his grandson. He then went on to tell me that he is a Roma who came over here when he was (French term that could imply anything from a teenager to a man in his early 20s.)

When he first got here he was into the kind of petty crimes that Roma immigrants are known for. But, then he met a French woman and fell in love. He stopped the bullshit and got jobs working with his hands.

He stopped wearing his traditional Roma clothes and decided that when he wasn't working he'd always wear a jacket to look as respectable as possible for his wife and family.

He was also proud that his grandson not only spoke French but also Romanian and had the little boy demonstrate both languages for me.

In the middle of this, a young couple came and sat down at the terrace with a set of blond twins about the boy's age.

The boy recognized them from his day care and went up to play with them.

As the three children ran around the terrace, the man looked at his son and said, "I'm glad I decided to be French."