“So … I’ve kind of been hanging out with American Boy,” I confessed hesitantly on the phone to my friend, S. I held my breath, a bit worried about what she would say. S and I went to high school together (she is, in fact, my only remaining friend from high school), and she now lives in Paris. It was through S that I met American Boy in the first place—they’ve been friends for a while, and I met him at a group outing in a bar back in September. I wasn’t sure how S would feel about me tumbling into bed with one of her good friends. Not that she would be disappointed, necessarily, but that she’d maybe feel awkward about the whole scenario. I should have guessed that it was just me who felt awkward about the whole scenario.“Oh yeah! You have to tell me everything! Did you go on a date?”
“Well … yeah, I mean, not just one date.”
“Leo! Did you kiss him?”
“Well, no. I mean, I did more than that. Um …”
“What?! You slept with him but you didn’t kiss him?”
“No, no that’s not what I meant. Yes, we kissed. And yes, we’ve slept together. More than once. But now I feel like things are kind of over, and—”
“OK, back up, back up. Over, how? You need to start from the beginning.”
Phew. At least she wasn’t angry.
S was calling me from a cab on her way back from the airport. She’d been in the States for three weeks, so had literally no idea what had been going on. But, she said, she had suspected something might happen between me and American Boy given that at her birthday party last month “there was crazy flirty chemistry between you two.” Ugh, am I that obvious?!
“So, yeah,” I continued. “He took me out on this date, which I wasn’t sure was a date until we totally had an amazing make-out session on the street after. Then we hung out on the weekend, and I had a crazy-fun time—we ended up at this random French girl’s birthday party—”
“Wait,” S interrupted. “Was the sex good?”
“Well … let’s just say this—I am pretty sure my neighbors have now heard me having sex. I overheard them in the hallway as they passed my door, and they were saying, ‘Elle faisait ohh! Ohh! Ooooh!‘” I explained, acting out orgasm noises (humiliating). “Only thing is that I blew him off last weekend. I just didn’t feel like talking to anyone, and now it’s Wednesday and he hasn’t called.”
“Leo, why don’t you call him?”
I know I could have made a better effort, but I had started to wonder last week if our communication drop-off wasn’t for the best. From the beginning, I’ve been convinced AB isn’t looking for anything serious; meanwhile, I’ve still been hung up on my past love, Alex. So maybe this was the point at which things would just fizzle out, and we could go back to being flirty acquaintances. Yet, the Catch-22 of dating: Even if you’re not sure you’re interested in the guy, you want him to be interested in you.
“I really think you should just call him,” S insisted. “AB isn’t one of those normal dating guys. And I get the impression that he likes to fake cool. I think he keeps falling in love with these girls and nothing quite works out.”
So I took S’s advice and gave him a ring; it thankfully went to voice-mail. I told him I was around if he wanted to hang out the next night. He called back shortly after and I let it go to voice-mail. I just didn’t feel like dealing with the planning. That’s the other thing—AB does not have a cell phone. WTF?! You cannot imagine how freaking difficult it is to try to go the casual route with a guy who doesn’t have a mobile. This means: you must make plans in advance. You must show up for the plans. You can’t make your own plans and then text late at night to meet up after. It’s incredibly irritating.
We ended up hanging out Saturday night, when I met up with a few of his friends to go to a concert for this jazz-funk band. (Sigh. Not my thing.) It was during the concert that I realized how confused I felt about everything (and not just about AB, but about love as well). As we stood drinking our watery beers and listening to a bad Stevie Wonder-meets-Jamiroquai group, I realized that AB is the youngest guy I’ve ever dated (he’s 25; I’m 24, and have always dated at least three years older than my age). For me, his age shows. Although, probably any 25-year-old guy would seem younger to me now. I recognize behaviors in him from the 25-year-old guys I dated when I was 22, but I was younger then, too, so guys who had no money, could drink a lot, and were loud and uninhibited, were the norm, and what I liked.
I stood in the packed music hall, sneaking looks at the crowd, wondering, “Which of these guys could be my next Alex?” looking for the man with an irresistible yet friendly face, the kind that you feel you already know. I imagined catching a glance of Alex, as if he had come to Paris for the weekend from Amsterdam (where he lives) to see this band. Would I go up to him, say nothing, and we’d just hug and hold each other? Or would seeing him make me cry and run away? What would it be like if we were there together, to feel his hands on my waist, and my arms twisted behind me to lock in his torso?
American Boy and I had hardly touched all evening, but it wasn’t bothering me. What was bothering me was the vision of Alex doing it. Which in turn made me understand that in that dream, Alex didn’t really have to be Alex. He could be any imaginary lover … but one that made me feel, well, like I wanted him to hold me at a concert.
As I was leaving American Boy’s apartment the next morning after a long cuddle session in bed, he candidly said, “I had a really nice time being with you. Can we hang out this week?” I smiled on the inside, but something was still holding me back. “Sure … um, I’m busy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,” I blurted. “And Thursday …” Thursday, I remembered then, is Alex’s 30th birthday. “Well, I’ll call you later in in the week.”
Being that occupied was a bit of a white lie. Monday (tonight) I have nothing, but figured I’d spend the night in, Tuesday I have a rather fabulous party for the launch of a friend’s fashion-art book (first time I will wear a dress in Paris!), and Wednesday I’m maybe going to a writing group. As for Thursday, something tells me that night will involve a bottle of wine and a long email.
Yet now, I sit here and have begun planning my day, and part of me wants to invite AB over for dinner tonight. It would definitely be an evening that goes closer to boyfriend/girlfriend territory—a low-key movie-watching-in-bed type of thing. God, that sounds nice. But do I really want to go there? Hmm …