I met him there for the first time in person after some time exchanging letters. No emails or text messages, letters. He doesn’t use the internet and he has the mobile phone only for the necessary. I didn’t know Prague then but this place is famous and I knew it from his books.
I almost couldn’t believe I am living what has been many times described in writing: meeting an important intellectual and there. When he arrived, he was impressive. He seemed huge and carried himself like a lion. He lead me to Jiří Kolář‘s table and asked me what I thought about the painting Absinthe Drinker by Viktor Oliva that decorates the wall. I remember nothing about the service, drinks or the quality of meal even though I remember I had shrimps. Obviously, I was too excited.
The other day I had a reason to celebrate something a little or to treat myself and this café, which I hadn’t been to for some time, was on my way. It was around 10 a.m. so the place was not full and I could take the table by the window with a view of the stunning panorama with Prague castle. “Our” table as I call the table of Jiří Kolář looked different. Smaller and less important as if it had shrunk. Or maybe it had been replaced because right next to it the waiters now have a table with napkins, cuttlery and other stuff. The painting dominating the wall in front of me reminded me what I said nine years ago: that the green transparent girl is not a vision but the reality distorted by alcohol.
Now, like a few times before, the reality had no intoxication to be distorted by. Not for the first time I noticed the staff being reluctant to pay attention to people. When I was finally handed the menu, later I literally had to stop a waiter passing by and ask “Can I order or not?” because I was getting worried I had become invisible. Waiters there… I tend to perceive them as exhibits, as if they were performing whatever they are doing and therefore bothered if they need to do something for real. They are like slow motion models of waiters from the time when Lažanský palace was given to the National Theatre in 1881.
Maybe it is my fault though. Maybe I should go there as to a museum, to look and co-create the scene. Or maybe we should go there with a person who will absorb our senses like my lion did. Or maybe they should not be called café but former café Slavia – Absinthe Drinker’s Dream. Which is my way of using poetic license how to describe what my friends summarize as “Slavia is shit, can be even dirty, it isn’t what it used to be.”