If wine and bread are life, Juliette’s patrons are close to immortality.
Every morning, she rushes to the bakery that sells the gigantic baguette, now known as the “Juliette Special,” just in time to see it coming out of Antoine’s oven. She’d once told the baker, that customers could eat her weight in bread at her restaurant. Antoine, always the gentleman, didn’t dare ask her weight, so he made a baguette to her height instead.
Mademoiselle Juliette has always known the importance of bread that has been kneaded and massaged until perfection. It’s something to share, the perfect sponge for a sauce, an excellent distraction for idle hands, and butter’s ideal lover, who always melts at its warm touch.
Juliette walks rapidly while being careful not to let the baguette touch the floor. She left today’s stew slowly simmering and and she’ll be the first to dip a piece of this baguette to taste it.
Back at the bistro she inherited from her father, a cook who never cried while cutting onions, patrons start arriving for lunch. Juliette will cut the baguette into equal parts for all the tables. A plentiful serving for each basket.
The first part of the baguette will go to the table with the mother and her son, who is trying to convince her of adding a canine to the household. Little does she know that he already has the dog. The boy has been hiding the animal in his closet for a week, and she still hasn’t noticed.
The second part will go to the lovers. They have only recently met. She lightly touches his arms while talking, and he stares at her while she laughs. He knows his jokes aren’t great, but if she keeps laughing, he knows she’ll fall in love.
The third part will go to the workmen in the corner. They’re already exhausted with half a day’s work still ahead of them. They devour the stew and clean the plate with the bread, dreaming of the day they’ll retire, and their backs won’t hurt so much.
The fourth part will go to the married couple. They have a perfectly synchronised dance between hands that can only be achieved when practiced for a long time. One salts their stews while the other butters the bread. They don’t talk a lot, but the care in the service of each other tells you all you need to know.
The fifth part will go to the solo diner at table 3. She’s alone but not lonely. She’s in her world, reading the book she brought with her. The story makes her gasp, laugh, and tear up. She has eaten the whole basket of bread before the stew comes. She just can’t put the pages down.
The next basket will go to the painter, who seems depleted after leaving it all on his canvas. His colorful fingers pick bread while he’s mesmerized by his latest muse, who gets the other basket. She sits straight up as if being pulled from the heavens with an invisible cord. Her elegant long fingers make everything she touches look delicate and refined. She sips on little spoonfuls of stew and then delicately cleans the corners of her mouth with the tissue that sits in her lap. She’s a student, practicing her etiquette and readying herself to become someone’s wife.
And so the day goes on, with patrons coming and going until there’s just enough baguette for one basket; Juliette’s. While she eats, she wonders what people think of her. Do they pay attention to the waitress? Do they imagine her life as she has imagined theirs all day long? Sometimes your best ally to fight boredom at work is your imagination and a baguette that’s just the right size.