Mimi and her puppy at Fouquets
♫♫ Rich relations give
Crust of bread and such ...
You can help yourself
But don't take too much
Mama may have
and Papa may have...
but God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own ♫♫
Songwriter: A. Herzog Jr / Billie Holiday
Champs Elysees 09/'03
for romantics only
One night in '03 I was nursing a typically overpriced 7-Euro espresso on a sidewalk terrace outside Fouquet's when along came a lady:
barefoot / back bent; shuffling slowly through the passersby with a hand outstretched, silently begging for change.
What struck me was that the little dog following her on the leash moved with identical hangdog, slow body language. (see photo)
Fouquet's has tight security, but as long as she didn't bother
their customers, they allowed her to beg people walking by for money.
I took a few photos of her, which she allowed me to do, but her expression and posture changed, saying essentially,
"Nothing is free, tourist."
At first I only gave her a small amount.
She inspected the coin, stared at me, and again without a word, only with gesture, let me know it was not enough.
I went over to her and after giving her a larger amount, she agreed to talk with me.
Her name is Mimi, and her dog's name is Schuider (sounds like shwee-dare).
I asked if I could pet her sad little dog: Mimi gave me reserved permission.
As I knelt down to pet him, Schuider came alive:
his posture changed to friendly enthusiasm: tail wagging, jumping up on me with kisses galore.
Then with a look, Mimi quickly let me know recess was over: Schuider instantly sagged back into his previous sad & fearful posture.
Later after she had moved on, I asked one of the Fouquet's security men about her.
He said she is there every evening, rain or shine.
I asked if she was authentique, or just a hustler.
He told me she makes just enough money from begging to provide food and a small flat for her and her dog.
I shook my head, saying that is not what I meant.
Bluntly I asked him: " is Mimi for real, or is she just a pain in the ass?"
He thought for a moment, then smiled and said it all in one brief sentence:
"This is her job ."