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Dear friends,

After my crabbing last month about how cold it was around here, you’ll be pleased to know that summer heat has come galloping into Paris like it’s late for a dinner reservation at Alain Ducasse.

Daily life has moved outdoors. The main street through my quartier is one long line of café tables and a second long line of people waiting for café tables.

I’ve taken to doing as much work as possible from one of those tables. I even have a favorite table in a favorite café; but I’m not going to tell you which café it is because I don’t want to have to wait in line. It’s very unfashionable anyhow, my café, and usually ignored by the tourists who wander into the neighborhood after making a wrong turn at the Opéra.

This place doesn’t look like much. It is not Instagram worthy. The tables wobble, the banquettes are leaking springs, and the woman who does the daily menu board has lousy handwriting so I never know what the hell the specials are. (PEUV DE HORQUE? THROPRUE AVEC SPOGUE?) But Edith Piaf used to hang out here. So there.


The nicest thing about my work is how portable it can be. Right now I’m resting between big knitting projects and doing up a pair of socks. They’re absolutely screaming yellow, with dull green heels and toes. When the knitting is done, I’m going to embroider them. Don’t ask me what the yarn is. I don’t remember. It was in my stash, and I’m still trying to whittle away the stash so that the cat will stop complaining to me about the lack of elbow room in the apartment.

Who even knew cats have elbows?

I had the sock in my shoulder bag the other day when I was in the Marais running errands, and noticed that there was a prime corner sidewalk table open at a place that’s usually full to the brim. The weather was perfect, and I was feeling cute, so I decided to sit down, knit, drink a glass of something and watch people go by.

I was counting the stitches in my gusset, still waiting for my fizzy water (eau petillante) when I got the sense that someone was hovering nearby. The waiter? 

Ha, ha. No. Not the waiter. One thing Parisian waiters never do is hover.

It was a woman, not three feet away, looking at me while doing her best to look like she was not looking at me, pretending to check her phone. She was taking my picture. But she had forgot to mute the camera.


She jumped. She flushed.

I giggled. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and truly it doesn’t bother me.

“Bonjour,” I said.

“BONJOUR!” she said. She blushed. A fellow American. “I’m so … um … BONJOUR! MERCI!”

And she flitted off like a Parisian waiter who knows you would like to order another bottle of eau petillante.

I should mention that I was especially, shall we say, picturesque that day. Good weather always puts me in a dressy mood. I was wearing my new cotton newsboy cap, a greeny-brown summer weight jacket with a fawn waistcoat, a china blue flowered silk pocket square, floral cufflinks, and my pocket watch with that poodle fob that makes me feel like the gay Baron in Remembrance of Things Past.


I looked, if I may so, like the first, pale buds of spring timidly breaking forth from the callow earth. 

That, plus the knitting, plus the front-row corner seat turned me into a tourist attraction. I might as well have been dressed as Marie Antoinette. By the time I finished working the gusset, at least four other tourists had taken aim at me. One of them was using a vintage Pentax, so I’ll be appearing on a coffee shop wall in Austin, Texas any minute now.

I was waiting for the bill, hoping the waiter would bring it before I ran out of yarn, when yet another photographer slid into view. This one was not working alone. She had an entourage of two—her husband and her daughter, I guessed.

“Will you look at that,” whispered the photographer, stopping so suddenly that her husband ran right into her.

They were maybe two feet from my elbow.

“What?” said the husband. “You could tell me when you’re going to stop, you know.”

“Shhhh,” said the photographer. “Over there. Knitting. A man.”

“Oh,” said the husband.

“I want a picture,” the photographer whispered. 

“So ask him,” said the daughter. 

“Shush,” said the photographer. “Stand right there while I get out my phone. I don’t want him to see.”

“Just ask,” said the daughter.

“Just stand there,” the photographer whispered.

“Just ask,” said the daughter.

“Does he look like he speaks English?” hissed the photographer.

“You don’t have to make a production,” said the husband.

“Shush,” said the photographer. “Stop looking at him.” She had pulled the phone from her handbag, and was trying, awkwardly, to tap the shutter button with one finger while pretending to look in another direction.

“If you would just ask,” said the daughter.

“Can we go, please?” said the husband.

“I almost got it,” whispered the photographer. “Hold still.”

The waiter arrived with my bill. I settled up. He moved on. The photographer and her assistants hadn’t budged.

“Mom,” said the daughter, “I swear.”

“One more try,” said the photographer.

I looked straight into her lens, lifted the sock, and smiled.

“You want me to say cheese?” I said.

They froze. The husband and daughter laughed.

“I told you,” said the daughter. “Just ask!”

“It’s totally fine with me,” I said. “Please go right ahead. I hope you’re enjoying Paris.”

“Are you American?” said the photographer.

“Yes,” I said.

“Oh,” she said, stuffing her phone back into her bag. “Nevermind.”

She turned on her heel and started walking away, her assistants trailing behind.

“Sorry,” said the daughter to me.

“Dammit, Joyce,” said her husband.

“If he’s American,” the photographer snapped, “he doesn’t count.”




About The Author

Franklin Habit has been sharing his brainy and hilarious writing and illustrations with the knitting world since 2005.

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  • Thanks for the chuckle….l always look forward to your Letters!

    • As do I. What a delightful way to begin my spring day.

      • I agree, what a charming article. So glad I stumbled upon it.

        • Omg. He’s just an American.

  • Yes…just ask! Keep enjoying springtime.

    • Oh, Franklin, you count anywhere!!! BTW that has a very yellow sock!!! Keep knitting! Keep writing! Bonne journee!

  • Your musings are perfect complement to the colorful photos and clever posts from the MDK blog. I always look forward to them. Merci.

    • I love reading your articles monsieur! I get to remember the days when I lived in rue Violet for a year. (Sigh) Enjoy! “Le spectacle est nous!”

  • Thank you Franklin, you always count. Please keep the letters coming.

  • This was great! I’ll smile all day.

  • Franklin, if you put these experiences into a book I would buy it. So fun! And the description of a slow waiter evokes Paris almost as much as the Eiffel Tower. You make me really miss it.

    • Hear, hear!

  • This did make me chuckle. And I’m so glad you’re having days where the weather is good and you’re feeling cute Franklin 🙂

  • What a joy reading your “American in Paris” report… As I am Italian, I wish you did the same for your staying in Rome, the result would have been even more enjoyable. But you have been misled by the ice cream…

  • you’re very forbearing – I’d probably have stabbed someone

  • Thoroughly enjoy every one of your posts. Your stories always make me smile! Keep them coming please!

  • Hilarious! I’ll bet you looked splendid. I wish you had gotten one of the snaps.

  • I don’t usually giggle out loud at 655a, but you managed it. Thanks much, and knit on.

  • Love the story but even more impressed with your knitting. The stitches are so even and smooth and the color join perfect. Sitting in an outdoor cafe in Paris that Edith Piaf frequented sounds like a little piece of heaven to me sigh….please keep your letters coming. I live vicariously through them.

  • I love your letters! Can’t wait to hear about the next adventure

  • “A man knitting…” loved it all! Especially the whispering! I bet you looked dashing!!

  • Hilarious. Don’t you just love our folks?
    She COULD have snapped your photograph as “An American in Paris” shot…oh well, she missed a moment of creativity.
    And yes (!) to the cute… I’ve got to make more of an effort!
    Take care and be well.
    I am inspired and hopeful today – thank you.

  • Loved this! Happy knitting!

  • Franklin, you are a hoot! Love the stories, your writing style and your knitting! Enjoy Paris and more importantly, life.

  • Thanks for this!! Now I can head off to work in a better frame of mind than heading off to work usually puts me in.

  • You continue to be enchanting, even for a sixth generation Texan living just out side of Austin. Bravo.. We’ll keep an eye out for a poster with a likeness of you. Love your socks

  • Living in Paris myself these days. I rather long for the colder months when I had the place sorta to myself, but the weather has been glorious. Thanks for the laugh!

  • You made my day. I love your writing. It makes me feel like you’re sitting right in front of me but surrounded with all the magic of Paris.

  • Some of my best memories of Paris are sitting at a outdoor cafe with my husband, watching the people go by. Thank you for reminding me of that special time. Keep writing!

  • I love these stories from Franklin

  • Lmao 🙂 Thank you Franklin!

  • Franklin,
    Your articles are my favorite and they never disappoint. Merci.

  • ah, Paris!
    Those socks will have some story to tell…

  • Oh you made me smile at 6:am! Brought back memories of when I was waiting in the lobby of a hotel in central China, for my new baby daughter to arrive. I was doing the finishing touches of a sweater I was knitting for her. When two cleaning ladies spotted me and kept long side looks as they redirected their mops toward me. Finding it difficult to hold back, I waved them over and showed them the tiny picture I had of my baby girl and happily inspected my knitting and gave me the thumbs up as they chatted away in Mandarin. They called over their coworkers grabbed my photo and pointed to my knitting – suddenly there was a crowd- of bowing women saying thank you in Mandarin.

    • I had a very similar experience in central China, knitting a little red sweater, waiting to meet my daughter. Knitters everywhere! Isn’t it wonderful?

    • You’ve reminded me of what happened on a cruise in Alaska. I was actually starting infant cap which began with the 2 earflaps. Someone noticed and assumed it was a bikini. I had to reply that these would “never cover” as a swim garment. The room exploded in laughter. Made several friends that day.

    • I say thank you as well. Friends adopted a baby girl from China and she has grown into a woman who makes the world a better place. You have done a wonderful thing.

  • So a Frenchman knitting is more interesting than an American man knitting? Whatever.

  • Always relish reading your posts and seeing your projects. Paris is one of my very favorite places in the world. Enjoy!

  • Franklin never fails to delight! Thank you.

  • Franklin, thank you for another enjoyable post! However, the “photographer” was wrong. You do matter. Very much. No matter your origins. Even if you hailed from Mars.

  • When my family and I lived in Paris, we would speak only French and pretend not to speak English when confronted with certain American tourists.

  • MDK and Franklin Habit. A great place to start my day! Merci les deux!

  • Thank you, Franklin, for a good morning chuckle. Love your Paris adventures. And…you do count.

  • Springtime in Paris! Thanks for the vision!

  • This reminds me of overhearing a man who said to his wife, “have you seen enough yet? can we go now?.” In Provincetown. As if you could ever see enough art, beautiful people, crisp sunshine, and gardens. But really, you couldn’t get one of your fans to send you a photo to post? You looked marvelous; I know it.

  • I love it everytime I see your name appear with a writing. You make my day with your vivid storywriting – I feel as if I was sitting right there with you. Happy summer to you.

  • But you passed for French! I wish to see a picture of you sitting there all French looking, dressed as you were, knitting. 1000 rad points to you

  • Your letters are wonderful and we feel like we are right there with you enjoying the moment!

  • Ah, so much less picturesque than a Frenchman.. think of the lifelong embarrassment of being married to Joyce. But what a comic subject. And, as a constant sock knitter, I admire the beauty of that current work.

  • When I get asked for directions while traveling internationally, I feel like I managed to fit in with the scenery—bonus points if asked in the local language—but never have I aspired to be a picture worthy local character. How fun. Thanks for the laugh! That family is in for a long trip with their matriarch photographer “subtly” taking shots and throwing jabs at her subjects 😉

  • Thank you, Franklin 🙂 You make me feel like I’m right there in Paris with you and inspire me to be less self-conscious about – well, everything.

  • The dialogue between the family members is so hilarious. Who says an American can’t provide local color in Paris?

  • Joyce threw away her chance to get a great picture!

    • Amen to that! Little did she know she had a celebrity (of sorts) before her.

      In bicycle racing they have a system of rating climbing segments. Now and then there is one that doesn’t fit into their pigeonholes. They call those climbs “HC” for “hors categorie”. Franklin, you are hors categorie!

  • Thanks so much for the numerous chuckles!! What a gift!

  • Lol! Truth is truly stranger than fiction!

  • Not only do cats have elbows, there is a Cat Elbow Corner near where we live, in upstate NY (Seneca County)!
    Cats seem to feature in place names here – we used to live near Locke, where there is a Cat Path Road – which ends, appropriately enough, on Bird Cemetery Road.

  • You most definitely count. I, too, would have tried to snap a pic because it is Franklin Habit in the wild. Love your letters!

  • I always love your punchlines. This one shows you are definitely blending in to the American idea of French life.

  • Oh. Franklin; you never fail to bring a smile to my day! Wish I could join you at least once at a cafe to people watch and talk about knitting projects, and how to whittle down a stash. Send more posts as often as you can!

  • That was great! C’est la vie!

  • Please know you count very much, sir! Enjoy your season, I will live vicariously.

  • If she doesn’t knit, she doesn’t count.

  • That is a really funny story. made my day

  • So funny!

  • You count immensely, Mr Franklin!
    Ugly American tourists abound still, thank goodness you can maintain your humor. Looking dapper always elevates the spirit. Cheers to you, beautiful spring, public knitting and Edith Piaf!

  • Hysterical! Thanks for posting this. Wonderful to know there are knit wits everywhere!

  • “One, two, three, four, five! I do too count!”

  • OMG Franklin! You are a delight! Thank you for taking us with you. Now all I want to do is sit in a cafe outdoors, looking fabulous and knit! True life goals.

  • LOL! Love Franklin Habit !

  • Trolling for Tourists by Franklin Habit Hubby and I still laugh about “we don’t have men like you in America.”

  • Not much to report here. Looking forward to your next letter ❤️

  • Hilarious!

  • That was the best early morning chuckle I have had in a long time! If they had asked would you have answered in French? Just to keep up the charade?! I like to think so!

  • Hahahaaaa!

  • Your knitting is beautiful. I wish my stitches looked as perfect as yours but noe I know what I’m striving for. Also love the poodle fob. You have marvelous accessories. Thanks so much for the photos and your letters.

  • Well, I read it until the end and fell out laughing.
    Because you’re an American in Paris doesn’t count. What were they doing there?
    Really !!!! Totally rude.
    I’m so glad you were so nice. I used to go to Paris about every year until I lost my Mom. She paid for my trips. I miss the city and Notre Dame. Stay safe and be well.

  • I feel sorry for Joyce. And for her husband and daughter.

  • Bonjour de Kauai. Comme c’est parfait d’être à Paris par une belle journée de printemps. J’aimerais être là à tricoter avec toi en sirotant un apéro. J’adorerais une photo de nous deux en train de tricoter ensemble et elle aurait une place d’honneur dans ma petite maison. Mahalo (Hawaiian for thank you) pour vos jolies lettres. Je les apprécie beaucoup.

  • I found it most amusing. People can be so entertaining even if that’s not their intention. Thx. Laughter is truly the best medicine.

    • Oh Franklin, this was the best episode yet! And Joyce is very wrong. You count in two languages! I’m laughing at the scene they made. As if the shushing wasn’t recognizable in any language! Silly woman.
      Enjoy your non-touristy café, it sounds like a perfect spot to relax and knit. I look forward to reading your next letter to us.

  • The socks are gorgeous, as you always are. And we wonder why the French generally have a distaste for Americans! Enjoy every second of the pandemonium you create by being so damn cute and clever.

  • If he’s American, he doesn’t count! LOL!

  • Ha! Ha! Ha! You should write a book (as if you weren’t busy enough). Thank you for the story.

  • I was hoping she would say “look, it’s Franklin Habit in the wild!”

  • Ah, an impoverished American tourist at large. Can you imagine the photo album she takes home? And the great story missed by not chatting with our Franklin. Holy moly.

  • You dress like the colors you knit with! I want a “picturesque” of you sitting at that cafe!

  • My husband and I both loved this! So funny, and so true.

  • Dammit, Joyce! This is classic. Thanks for the laughs.

  • Oh, Franklin! If I’d run into you last week at Les Tricoteurs Volant, (as I was secretly hoping) YOU would have counted the MOST!
    Silly woman! Sheesh.

  • Always enjoy your letters!! So cheerful!

  • Cats absolutely have elbows! They need the room to curl up properly on your knitting!

    You have a better sense of humor than me with the tourists – hats off to you! Glad the weather has improved

  • Omg so funny and a bit rude of the last person! People are so bizarre like the kid said she should of asked I like seeing people out knitting in the wild

  • Oh my… Franklin, you ALWAYS count!! How fun that you turned into a tourist attraction.

  • Huzzah!!

  • that was certainly choice. Thank you and enjoy!

  • Thank you for letting me live vicariously through your life in Paris I hope somehow Joyce hears about this article and realizes what an opportunity she missed!

  • You’ve inspired me! I will dress up to knit. I will put on lashes and lipstick, and coif my hair like Zsa Zsa.

  • Franklin, Never stop writing your letters from Paris! You make me smile. Bonjour!

  • I’m already imagining the picturesque image (captured in sepia or black-and-white, naturally) of you seated on a park bench, dressed to the nines, and playing La Vie en Rose on your concertina.

    You might need to borrow a whimsical- looking dog to pose in the concertina’s case for that; I don’t expect M. Mimmi would participate without scowling.

  • If I spot you while in Paris in a few weeks I will definitely ask!

  • “I am a citizen of the world, my dear. Would you prefer that I use my French accent? I was merely being polite and speaking American as you do not appear to speak French.” Husband and daughter would have days of fodder for teasing after that. 😉 “Hey Dad, remember that time in France when mom tried to take a picture of the man knitting that cool yellow sock and she thought she was being so subtle…”

  • If only she knew she was encountering knitteratti.

  • Your letters are so amusing! I wish I could say that I was surprised at that woman’s rudeness…but, I think most of us aren’t. You sound very Parisian, with your cafe home away from home, and it sounds lovely!

  • C’est dommage!

  • I laughed! Oh, American tourists can be so special!!

  • That was a great big chuckle and so typical of many US traverlers.

  • Oh Dear Franklin, what terribly rude people. You are insta-worthy wherever you are from and wherever you are living, especially wearing a chain with a poodle on it.

  • Thanks for your note from Paris! Love the socks, even if I’d never make anything out of that color. LOL Paris is on my list so love hearing about it. I’m afraid I’d be one of the rude Americans, unintentionally.

  • Merci beaucoup for the amusing anecdote

  • Franklin, I so look forward to your stories! Merci for this one–and sorry about American tourists. I’m glad you have a regular café; now I will imagine your cute self sitting and knitting when I think of Paris. Tres chouette!

  • Love it! No wonder we’re called ugly Americans. Keep your musings coming. They’re a real highlight.

  • Merci beaucoup, Franklin, for your delightfully funny encounter with the American tourist. Awww, how we loved a little parisian cafe table, brings lovely memories back to me! And, you know, I probably would have stopped and inquired about your knitting project, tho your smashy attire may have caught my eye first!

  • Shaking my head and laughing out loud. Your writing…i can SEE them: T-shirts with American schools or cities or teams on them, cross-body bags, shorts, running shoes, the daughter slouching more and more as the minutes pass…oh, and baseball hats…

  • I want those socks!!!

  • “If he’s an American, he doesn’t count.” ?!?!? Is this some sort of Parisian scavenger hunt?
    Eiffel Tower, check.
    Picturesque pâtisserie? Check.
    French dude knitting? Dammit, Joyce, he’s clearly an American. He doesn’t count.

  • I think your poodle is a spaniel.

  • I love your writing Franklin! My husband and I thought that story was hilarious.

  • Franklin, you are authentically you no matter where you are! Thanks for the laugh.

  • Franklin- with every Letter you make me miss Paris, but with a chuckle at the same time. I will look for you later this summer!

  • Oh Franklin! Chuckles are bubbling here, like your fizzy water. I wanted to hiss at the oh-so-very-American photographer, “not count??!? Don’t you know that’s Franklin-freakin-Habit in the wilds of Pareee???!” But alas, I was not there. *sigh*

  • Thanks for another delightful letter and a laugh!! Looking forward to more.

  • Thank you.

  • Wonderful!

  • What a beautiful article; this is my first, I will read the others. Thank you. Sunny

  • That is hilarious! What a great story!

  • Haha! “You can tell me when you are going to stop!!” I know what that man means. Love this story of your cafe experience. I may have had to take a pitcure of you too!!

  • ‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️

  • You’ve lifted my spirits upon finding you on YouTube, ( yes, I subscribed). My day was turned upside down, but because of finding you & your passion of fiber arts, I’ve been renewed. Thank you for sharing your journey & mindset & artisan interests.- Diane

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