In my wandering around town, heading to the market, the laundry, or the pub, I suppose, I perked up when I saw that the superette on the corner of Selby and Dale closed its doors. One moment it was full of soda, cigarettes, chips, sunglasses, and all kinds of mismatched junk peering out the front windows. The next it was empty as day. This place is across the street from Mississippi Market and Paisano’s and in the same building as Muddy Pig, and it’s really attractive, with big windows and a prime location that would let people inside sit contented and watch the world go by.
In the fantasy version of my life, I have a ton of cash and I rent the space to create what I’ve always envisioned, in my clever but idea-overloaded mind, as “my cafe.” It’s called Flâneur, serving high-class bohemian food with excellent coffee, tea, and a collection of apéritifs and digestifs. Flâneur encourages extended periods of flânerie, loosely defined as the strolling of urban streets. But a flâneur is also a connoisseur. He (or she, as the flâneuse might have it) has a keen understanding of where a good experience might lie, whether it’s following the most interesting street or stumbling into the best cafe. In the spirit of it, at my counter, you might order a sandwich and a pastis — liqueur that comes with a small carafe of water, a brilliant pairing that can make your drink last for almost as long as you choose. To use Cafe Maude’s language, my cafe would be a spot of civilized leisure.
For better or worse, Flâneur must remain a fantasy, at least at this address. The space has been rented. A sign in the storefront announces a June 2009 opening of Living Bread, which the Internet tells me is a store that promises to put “Catholic life at your fingertips.” This strikes me as odd still. I can’t imagine a shrine to Catholica in such a prominent intersection. Aren’t religious supply stores usually, I don’t know, not so . . . obvious? As a good flâneuse, though, I’m thrilled that it isn’t a national sandwich chain, and that my neighborhood will soon have yet another storefront to amble into. And maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll even be able to replace my broken Jesus nightlight.