Friday, March 18, 2005

Petit Socco Cafe

When I sit down at the café a man at the café adjacent stands up, puts his open palm in the air and hollers, smiling widely, “Italiana?” nods and bows like a bull fighter to the queen. A man walking back to his seat passes me and smiles “Hola,” he teases the word. I answer “hola.” A waiter brings me my mint tea, no extra sugar I presume, just the standard five cubes, and he keeps walking down the stairs of the café, and across the street to the barbershop where he delivers tea to a man getting a haircut.

I try to check out everyone’s teeth sitting at the same café, but their lips fairly well cover any sign of teeth, or sometimes a mustache, is like an external row. I would rather have the tea with honey but once I asked and they said, “If you drink mint tea with honey, the wind will hit you.” The man said it in a whisper, in order not to incite the wrath of the wind for having warned me I suppose.

All the chairs are set up to face the square of the Petit Socco, the little market. I turn my chair to use the table. I am now watching the people lined up along the café wall watching the street life. Women walk by in their slippers, not even the traditional kind, full blown stuffed animals, pound the streets.
The man across from me starts telling me people in Casablanca are better than people in Tangier. He is trying to convince me to come with him there, to his house on the beach. He pulls his fingers from the corners of his mouth out to an imaginary point in midair, not far, though, a gesture cut short as he looks around and decides to be discrete among the Tangerines. This means something negative but I’m not sure what.

A man in the café adjacent can’t pay and the waiter grabs his arm, stomps on his foot hard and lets him go, not to cause a scene. The man is free, but dizzying to watch, so goofy are his eyes, they don’t seem to be focused anywhere. He walks away with something still clenched in his fist. He raises his fist to his mouth and opens his palm at the last second; a white powder disperses from around the corners of his clap. A small boy struts in front of the café, and just as he is about to disappear around the corner, looks at me mischievously, takes his fist away from his mouth, and lets out the most delicate ribbon of white smoke I have ever seen. “Did you see that?” I ask my neighbor. “What was that?” He doesn’t have an answer. “Could be anything,” he says, not very helpfully. Well at least it’s not glue, which is the cheapest, most common drug in the city.


Post a Comment

<< Home