An expat breaks a(nother) Parisian social norm and finds herself fending off an admirer.
Under certain conditions, I’m a dangerous woman.
Start with a little sun after a drawn-out deluge, dress in cute summer attire, add a little dancing and me without my glasses – these were this week’s ingredients.
It’s like this: It rained for days, for weeks without end. It was as if we would drown, as if the city might swim away. So when the sky suddenly opened into sunshine, I cannot tell you how miraculous it felt.
We skipped over spring fever and headed straight to summer. Life is beautiful again.
I went to dance class on Tuesday as I do; it’s my favourite time of the week. With the majority of my life spent sitting and struggling over words, the chance to move and express myself in a totally different way feels like freedom.
Dancing is a saving grace.
After class it was still light outside – after 9 PM!
I don’t know if it’s all that rolling around and sweating and shaking it to good music, but I’m always much looser after class. Maybe too loose. I still have the songs in my head and sometimes I unwittingly break into a dance shuffle on the street. I try to keep it under wraps (conform to societal norms, Sion!), but I guess I’m not that much of a conformist.
So I’m walking up my block and I kind of throw my head back and arc my arms behind me; one of my involuntary improv moves.
Up ahead a man in a sky blue shirt does a double and then a triple take as he crosses the street. I smile because I realize – oh yeah, that probably looked kind of weird, huh?
But so now I’m smiling at him and he’s really like, what? (quadruple take!)
He stops on the street across from me and just looks.
I’m near-sighted and I don’t often wear my glasses when I’m out (I don’t know why. Maybe because I can see directly in front of me and it’s fun when the rest of the world past that point is a surprise when I get to it!)
So I can’t tell anything about this man except what he is wearing. That he is tall, lean. His face? A total blur.
I give him a shrug of my shoulders and a cheeky smile and continue walking.
After a brief pause, I hear him call after me and now he is crossing back across the street, walking behind me, trying to catch up.
Oh no, what have I done? Don’t smile at men on the street like that!
But part of me gets a little tingle…oh, what if tall, blue-shirted man is cute? Amazing? Spontaneous like me?
After pretending I don’t hear him for a few moments, I let my curiosity get the best of me. I stop and turn around.
Watch as the blur approaches.
And…oh, dear god, no. He is…a child! (Ok, maybe not a minor, but really, really young. I do not want to hazard a guess).
I look at the boy and hope that he realizes I’m old. (I consider myself young, too, but not when compared to boys. Ahem).
He does not seem to notice I am old. He asks my name.
“Sion.” (Why my real name? Ugh, I am incapable of lying).
He introduces himself.
“Do you live around here?” he asks.
(Lie, Sion, lie!) “Yeah, right up there.” (Doh!)
“I’ve never seen a woman do that before,” he says and gestures, lifting his arms behind him slightly.
“Yeah, I know. I just came from dance class. I don’t know; it’s weird.”
“You have a beautiful smile.”
“Thanks. Well, bonne soiree!” I say chirpily trying to get the boy/man to disappear.
“Can I have your number?” he says pulling his phone out of his pocket.
“No, I’m sorry.” I have made a grave error, I’m thinking. Young man, shoo!
I flee into my courtyard.
But after a moment, he’s behind me again.
“Ok, not your phone number then. I just want to do one thing with you and then I’ll go.”
(Oh dear god, no. You want to do one thing with me?)
“Can I kiss you and then I will go?”
“No, I’m sorry,” I say.
“C’est vrai?” he asks seeming to be genuinely confused.
“Yes, it’s really true.” …that I do not want to kiss you. I am so sorry I smiled at you. I am a strange, girl, it’s true.
“Bonne soiree,” I say again, hoping this time it’s more definitive and move rapidly to my building. Now I’m a tiny bit peeved at myself – he knows where I live!
Luckily he did not follow me further so I could laugh at myself in peace.
I have found it very difficult to date in Paris. As in, my dating life is nonexistent. (The French don’t even have a word for a “date.” That might be one of the problems.)
So I’m the single girl in the City of Love gettin’ no lovin’. Feeling mostly invisible, to tell the truth. All those stories of fawning French men, the amorous stereotype – this has never been my reality.
But perhaps I’ve found the key. Break it down (or do bizarre moves) on the street and there’s sure to be some attention.
Only, I should wear my glasses more often so I can be a better judge; it’s best to smile only at appropriate ones.