365 Days In Paris: Present Tense
Third date with Mr. Cupid. We were sitting in a bar in Belleville, where I had dragged him to my friend’s spoken word song night. (Yeah. I know. Long story.) But it was there, scrunched in between boho expatriates and enduring the sounds of bad slam poetry, that we kissed. A quick peck initiated by him that turned into a full-out make-out session when we left and had a drink at an outdoor cafe. Coming up for air, I looked at our nearly-drained glasses and back into his eyes.
“So … did you want to get something to eat (we both hadn’t eaten yet), or get another drink?” Ten minutes of hemming and hawing (Are you hungry? I don’t know, are you?) — “Well … you know,” he began with caution, “If you want to come to my place, maybe we can buy a bottle of champagne, and drink it there.” Smooth move, mister. “And then,” he continued, “I put you in a cab around midnight so you don’t get home too late?” Nice save.
I looked at him for a minute, considering the leap of faith. When you begin dating someone, you have no idea who they are, or what type of aggression can come out in a private make-out session. I looked into his eyes, waiting for some gesture that would seal the answer. He laughed nervously.
“OK,” I said carefully. “But I’m not sleeping with you. Or anything.”
“God, no! I wouldn’t dream … I mean, I would, but everything is up to you.” I was definitely expecting Mr. Cupid’s place to be different. But it was pretty similar to the average young professional dude’s in NYC … meaning it’s a bit unkempt and without much decor. Just as we were sitting down to have a glass of champagne, Mr. C popped up.
“Ah! I just remembered something. I have something.” He disappeared into the kitchen for a minute, bringing back a box of chocolates he’d bought during his weekend in Italy.
“Oh, yum!” I said with a smile, thinking he had brought out the treats for us to enjoy with the champagne.
In the morning (oh shush, nothing happened, you fools) as we were leaving the house, Mr. Cupid pointed towards the box of sweets.
“Aren’t you going to take the chocolates?”
“No? It is not nice to refuse a gift.”
“Wait—you bought those just for me?” He bought you a f**king present.
“Yes! I already told you, I bought them for you last weekend when I was on my trip.”
“Ohhhh! I thought … well, I thought when you said … never mind. Merci. Merci beaucoup. That’s very sweet of you,” I said, awkwardly stuffing the box in my bag.
I went home, and promptly gorged myself with a half dozen of Mr. C’s chocolates, forcing myself to feel ill. I also had a text from him I’d chosen not to respond to. Why was I acting so weird? All you ever want is romance, and here it is, staring you in the face. I suddenly saw things from the other side, feeling like the jerky guy who starts to get freaked out by a girl who likes him. I’ve never been in this situation.
Yet, I knew I liked Mr. C. I do like Mr. C. In the past few days, things were moving quickly to boyfriend-girlfriend land. True, it felt nice, but I was feeling wary about the speed and newness. Thinking I needed something to put things in perspective and get my mind off of him for a bit, I reluctantly agreed to a daytime date with another online suitor. I should have just followed my gut, which was both making me feel guilty for pulling myself away from Mr. C, as well as already inducing a mental fatigue because … Man, this was a bad idea.
Things got off to an awkward start with this guy. To begin with, it was a daytime rendezvous, and he showed up with no concrete plan, suggesting that we could maybe go to the Finnish Institute up the street to see some art. Some really effing weird art. Not a good way to start things off—entering a quiet gallery where you can’t really talk, and then making a girl look at paintings of My Little Pony doused in blood and naked slaves carrying babies. Things got weirder when we sat down for a coffee and the conversation still hadn’t gone past too many words. In the hour we had been together, Dude had not asked me one question, leaving me to probe him in a falsely jolly manner. And what I had learned hadn’t been impressive: He didn’t have a job but “made music” and has been crafting scary-sounding masks he wants to sell to theater companies. He also lives with his parents. In the suburbs.
During a pause he looked out into the street and said, “Oh hey, I know that girl,” pointing to a woman turning the corner.
“Oh yeah? Who is that?”
“Well it’s a sort of friend of a friend … although we don’t exactly talk anymore because she is the friend of my wife, and so I—“
He laughed nervously. “Uhhh, hehe. Yeah … oops. OK, so yes, I am married. But we have been separated for several months.”
“OK, I’m sorry. You’re going to have to explain this more. So, you’re married? And are you in the process of getting a divorce?”
“Elaborate, please. You’re trying to work things out?”
“So, why not, then?”
“Well, getting a divorce in France is very expensive, and we don’t really have the money …. It isn’t so uncommon here, people staying married for a while …”
After that, I tuned out. I needed to figure out how to get away from Married Man. This was getting ridiculous. I faked having to work.
GOD! Whyyyyy would anyone act that way? Where are all the normal people in the world? I thought as I walked home, feeling more annoyed than ever as I dodged the tourists and gypsies in front of Notre Dame.
I instantly regretted everything, vowing to let things happen naturally from now on. You got lucky with Mr. C So shut the eff up and make sh*t happen.