The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, March 09, 2007

Outbound to Alewife

By Anne Chudobiak

I am writing from Algiers Coffee House, Brattle Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I am at the table closest to the men’s room. This is my second pot of hibiscus tea.

I wanted to spend the afternoon at Café Pamplona on the corner of Bow and Arrow. (I use the word “corner” loosely. Like most Cambridge streets, Bow and Arrow meet at a confusing angle.) That’s where Erich Segal wrote the novel Love Story. I don’t see how anyone could write much more than a paragraph at Pamplona. The problem is the bathroom: there isn’t one, at least not for customers. This is always a challenge for me when I travel. I keep my eyes peeled for department stores and government buildings. They have the best facilities. (Yesterday I went to the ladies’ room in City Hall. After, I called home from the payphone in the basement. It was beside the Sex Offender Bulletin Board, which is a sort of visual primer on the known perverts of Cambridge.)

Here in Algiers everyone is writing or reading. The man in front of me is working on his CV. I can make out his screen from my table. Kyle P. C— expects to graduate Harvard in 2010. I’d feel guilty if I was anywhere else. This is a very bookish place. Instead of making eye contact, people steal glances at one another’s reading material. One guy jostles my table on his way to the men’s room. He can’t help it. He’s trying to read my notes.

I pour the last of my tea. I need to pee, but the ladies' is occupied. I don’t mind waiting. It could be worse. Think of poor Erich Segal in Café Pamplona. Love Story must have been written in very short spurts.

4 Comments:

Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Always entertaining, Anne!

Sat Mar 10, 09:03:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger tamara said...

This is funny. And I wholly agree; loos (and easy access exits) are top of my list when sussing out a joint. Sounds like a great place, but yeah, I doubt I could write much there. I need a bit more privacy, all around ;)

Sat Mar 10, 01:54:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

what great stimulation!!! I love it!!! like alittle spy..xoxo

Sun Mar 11, 05:08:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

One of the cultural/intellectual centers of America, it must have been great.

Mon Mar 12, 02:39:00 pm GMT-4  

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