365 Days In Paris: La Vie Sociale
Yesterday, I met a man in the street and let him touch me. I let him take his hands to my body and caress and rub me all over.
Not like that, you perverts. When I left my house at 3 p.m. to take a walk, I crossed over the bridge connecting my block to the Île St. Louis, intending to take a stroll down the posh island that rests in the middle of the Seine. When I turned onto the bridge, I stopped in surprise—there in the middle were about a dozen people sitting in little chairs getting back massages from another dozen people. It was eerily quiet, with the massagers and massagees in complete silence and onlookers staring or whispering to each other. (It must be said that you can never know what the eff you are going to walk into on the street in Paris. This weekend I also walked into a techno parade, several live music acts, and a weird circus performance. Click here if you wanna see some pics of topless French teens.) I stopped to look for a second before a man came over and asked if I wanted one.
“C’est gratuit,” he said.
Free? Anything that’s free is fabulous to me. So I sat down and let him gently push his thumbs into my muscles, my mind escaping to nothingness. After he finished, I thanked him, and decided that instead of walking I’d rather sit, so I headed down to the banks of the Seine. It was a sunny, brilliant day, which meant I had to walk a bit to find a spot not occupied by beer-drinking teens or tourists making out.
I pulled out my book, but I couldn’t read. I don’t know if it was the massage or the intoxicating sun, but I felt I just needed to think and look at things. It had, after all, been a pretty long weekend. A good one, but long one.
Friday night, I met up with a college girlfriend, K, at this slightly new place in the 10th arrondissement called Chez Jeanette—the type of place that’s in a sort of rough and edgy area, which is why young and hip Parisians love it even more. Just as I was arriving, K texted me to say they were running about 20 minutes late. Not wanting to insert myself into the packed crowd and potentially awkward situation of being alone in there, I went to the cafe two blocks down and ordered a kir. Just as the drink arrived, my phone rang, and, expecting it would be K, I picked up right away without even looking at the caller.
“Ah, salut Léonora, c’est Mr. Cupid.”
“Oh. Oh! Hey! How are you?” I said, not even realizing I had started speaking English.
The conversation was a bit awkward. I just don’t do well on the phone (plus, still not used to a guy calling me like this), and there was a lot of noise as he was on a train to Italy for the weekend. When we hung up, I scolded myself for being so lame on the phone and sent him a text message: “Why do I never speak French with you? I don’t even TRY, it’s pathetic. From now on, French. I am changing this bad precedent I’ve set.” He responded, “No, no! It is all my fault. I should be more considerate, because I know you want to speak French.” OMG, he totes loves me.
I downed the rest of my drink and was glad to see K had arrived. I kissed her on both cheeks, as well as Franck, a guy she was talking to. Looking to my left, I saw Marie and Jean-Baptiste, a couple who are friends of K’s boyfriend — I had met them two weekends ago. Because they were wedged into a corner and absorbed with conversation, I smiled and waved when they looked over. I leaned into K to try to discreetly ask her, “Uh, am I supposed to do la bise with Marie and JB? I just had an awkward hello.” “Yeah, you really should,” she told me. F**k, now it was just too awkward. When we all sat down at a table later, with Marie sitting next to me, I turned to her to say, “Desolée, j’ai pas fait la bise … tu sais, je suis américaine, je suis pas habituée…” (Translation: Sorry I didn’t kiss you on the cheek, I’m American, you know, I’m just not used to it yet.) I couldn’t tell if she was understanding or thought I was crazy. Oh French customs!
I woke up the next morning completely hungover. In French, you’d say, Je fais la gueule du bois. Literal translation: I make the face of wood. Oh French language. Anyhow, prompted by intense hunger, I dragged myself out of bed for eggs at Cafe Charlot in the Marais and then did some shopping after. As I was browsing the incredible goods at The Kooples (check out their stuff—awesome), my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but picked up anyhow.
“Hi Leonora, it’s Tim.” Tim? OH. The English professor I had met at a random book group who’d been nice enough to have coffee with me last week to help me through some writing blocks. He’s such a nice guy and a smart one too. He was going to the flea market and asked if I wanted to come. Why not? I hopped on the metro. Twenty minutes later, we were browsing old trinkets, yellow-paged books, and antique toys while talking about our families, writing, and depression. (OK, I admittedly have no idea if Tim, who has a good 25 years on me, was trying to court. I enjoy his friendship and being with him, so it doesn’t matter.) We hung out until about 4 p.m., and I went home to rest before rallying again for a night out.
This time I met up with yet another friend from college and her French boyfriend she’s living with. OK, now I am really feeling left out. We went to a bar/music venue called Le Point Ephémère (check it out in our Frisky guidebook), where we actually just sat outside, drinking cans of Heineken and lounging by the Canal St. Martin. I was having a good time but was depleted from my active afternoon and hangover from my hangover, so I called it a night at about 11.
When I got home, I saw Mr. Cupid had emailed. Sweet. I guess we have a date on Monday! (And this time, I better find myself sucking some French face.) I was sitting with my laptop in my bed, half drunk and giggly when all of a sudden, my computer starting ringing. Sh*t. Dad calling on Skype. I’d been avoiding talking to them for days, so I felt I had no choice but to answer.
“Hiiii honeeeeyyyyy,” he said, waving into the camera. (The fact that we can see each other never ceases to amaze him; the first two minutes of any conversation involves him waving and sticking his face up to the webcam).
“So have you thought about Thanksgiving?” he asked. Hmmm. Thanksgiving. I basically need to decide if I’m going to come home, otherwise my parents will plan to come to France (although I’m not sure of the likelihood of this happening).
“Yeah. I have. And … I don’t think I’m going to want to be coming home.”