Even if you've never been to Paris, you've probably seen them in movies or magazines: those colorful little French coffee chairs and tables that have been the hallmark of the Parisian cafe for over a hundred years.
And you're probably aware of the part they played in the history and culture of the last century, when the likes of Hemingway and Sartre, Fitzgerald and Picasso sat in these very chairs at these very tables, defining the art and literature and philosophy of the Twentieth Century.
But there was a lot more going on in Paris a century ago than just philosophical discussion.
A lot more. And a lot wilder!
And it was happening right there amid the chairs and tables of the French bistro!
Oh, to be sure, to the untrained eye (or mind), café chairs and tables certainly look exactly like bistro chairs and tables.
However, French café chairs and tables signify coffee, croissants and philosophical debate; French bistro chairs and tables are more about wine, music and romance. That magical La Vie En Rose.
For rather like werewolves of French furniture, the cerebral café chair is transformed into the exotic bistro chair when the Parisian sun goes down.
And the names that come to mind are less Hemingway and Sartre, more Josephine Baker and Bricktop.
Which is not to say that never the twain shall meet.
For if Hemingway eschewed the bistro for the café, he apparently took a peek every now and then. He is purported to have said of Josephine Baker that he considered her to be "the most beautiful woman there is, there ever was, or ever will be."
And Josephine Baker said, "I was not naked. I simply did not have any clothes on."
But she also said, "Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen exclusively as a way to speak one's soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood. "
Hmmmm. Could it be that the legendary Josephine Baker, toast of the Parisian bistro, was, at heart, actually a café philosopher?