Thursday, March 16, 2006

Givin' you people what you really want...

Yes, I met a man in France.

Well, to backtrack a bit, we met ten men in France. They happened to be the entire horn section of the Glen Miller Orchestra, in from London to play a few gigs in Paris. They were loud and rowdy and looking for some fun - just like us. My friend sat at one end of the bar, casually charming and entertaining five of them, while I mirrored her on the other end. Both of us were having a blast, and had them in the palm of our hands. All in good fun, we told tales, flirted, and learned a little bit about the life of British musicians in a basement bar in the Bastille neighborhood in Paris.

As we left the second bar to move on to the third, someone was suddenly walking alongside me. Before I knew it I had taken his arm, and we were talking easily, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. This handsome, boyish, charming trumpet player from London had captured me in about two seconds flat, and I didn't want him to let go.

The first night ended with promises from the whole group to meet up again the next, and I floated home in a somewhat bewildered state. Slightly drunk and confused about how I had even started talking to this man...

"You know, he asked me about you," my friend told me as the cab whizzed past the Arc de Triomphe.

"Huh?"

"Yeah, he came up to me really early on and asked what your deal was. Whether or not you were single."

Well that did it. Now I was really excited. Was it possible that I would actually fall in love in Paris?

The whole next day I was ripe with anticipation. Playing different scenarios over and over in my head, as I am wont to do, until I finally rationalized with myself. Yes, I would allow myself to fall in love with him tonight, just so that I could have the experience, but I would not allow myself to get carried away and expect anything. Nope, this would be nothing but a beautiful experience - one that anyone would be lucky to have in the most romantic city in the world. Good plan.

The night was going well. Everyone was having a good time, my new love was glued to my side. Then someone decided to find out the status of everyone at table.

"Who's got a girlfriend or boyfriend?" was asked to the table at large.

Yes, no, yeah, uh-huh, yes, no...

"Yep," said the voice next to me.

My heart skipped a beat, but I managed to squeak out my own no without showing any signs of shock... or confusion... or disgust.

A quick rationalization happened in my head. This was certainly a surprise, but I didn't want to think about it right now. It was my last night in Paris, I just wanted to have fun and flirt and carry on. So let's just carry on.

And carry on I did. Until we all left the restaurant and he and I found ourselves walking together again.

"Look, I feel like I should explain something..." he began.

"Oh, is this going to be about you having a girlfriend?" I never like to be seem surprised, or give away the upper hand too easily in situations like this, so atop the sassy horse I climbed, ready to engage in a full-on battle of wits.

Because the thing is, I was never going to have this conversation. This was his thing, his guilt to feel. I had resigned myself to just enjoying the evening. He was the one who, for whatever reason, felt the need to talk about it.

"Right. Well, the thing is, I mean, I know that I asked about you to your friend last night, and it's just that, well I didn't want you to be embarrassed - "

"Why would I be embarrassed? You're the one who should be embarrassed." My delivery of this line was incredibly calm. He took about a second to process and then knew I was right. "So why did you ask about me?"

"I don't know. I guess I'm a bit of a prat. I mean, I couldn't not ask... I don't know, I can't explain it. I just wanted to know more about you... I don't know..." he trailed off.

"Look, can't we just enjoy the night?"

We couldn't. Or at least, he couldn't. I went on trying to put off the inevitable disappointment for another few hours and be my usual self, and he talked on his cell phone to... well, one can guess who. He avoided me for most of the rest of the evening out of... well who knows. Guilt? Embarrassment? Decency?

Soon he left, but not before an interesting good bye. I was afraid to really engage with him again, not wanting to crumble, but he seemed to want to tie up the encounter, somehow.

"Look, I've really got to go now. Not because I want to, but I've had some bad news, and I've got to sort out some phone calls. I just want to say that it was really, really lovely to meet you. It really was. I know that... well, you've got my email address to, well, I mean, you can do with it what you want."

And then he was gone, and I was left in a crowded bar in the middle of Paris, with an I'm-having-fun mask glued to my face. The world was swirling around me, but I wasn't experiencing it anymore. I was trapped in my mind, where I had begun to process what had just happened.

Here I was - across the ocean - and faced with the same bad luck when it came to men. Once again, he was the pursuer, and once again, I had the rug ripped out from under me. Was it me? What am I - a fly strip for dysfunctional men? Are there clear red flags that I for some reason completely miss? I suppose these are questions that should definitely be answered. But not right then.

Because right then, I had Paris to enjoy.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Lanahan said...

You should have grabbed him anyway and had a one-night in Paris fling!

7:33 PM  
Blogger Dolt said...

I don't know, sounds like he actually kinda liked you....or maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic. He didn't try to sleep with you or anything so he can't be a complete "prat". Even after you basically said that you just wanted to have fun, he didn't try any more. I'd email him just to see what happens...stranger things i'm sure....

2:36 PM  

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