365 Days In Paris: Gains And Losses

Like they say, two steps forward, one step back.

This week has been a lesson in relationship building. What I’ve learned: you do need to get out of your comfort zone, but sometimes you have to cut your losses and stay put.

It seemed like the fates had answered my prayers for some more social intrigue when last week an email landed in my inbox. An admirer! A French one! With XY chromosomes! I hastily read with glee the brief note from, oh let’s call him “Pierre.” Pierre had come across my blog while searching for Paris nightlife reviews, and had somehow randomly landed at TheFrisky.com. He said he was “touched” by my stories of dealing with the French, and if he could ever be of help, “don’t hesitate to get in touch.” Translation: I read your blog, Googled your name, saw some pics of you online, and thought you were hot.

Yes! I quickly did a search for his name and didn’t come up with much, and definitely didn’t see any pictures. Still, I wrote back immediately, asking him about his life in Paris and where he liked to go out. A dozen emails later, we had both dropped hints that we’d be at the same bar that evening. In the meantime, I’d requested his Facebook friendship in an attempt to get a look at his face (his profile pic was of a landscape, so no insight there). A few hours later, Pierre sent a one-liner: “Hey, just wanted to ask you—do you often add people to Facebook you don’t know?” Hmm. Was it so weird that I had done that? It didn’t seem fair that there’s so much info about me on the internet whereas he had practically nothing. It seemed logical … how else would I recognize him if we were to meet up? I wrote back flirtatiously, “No. Do you often email people you don’t know?”

Things went awry, however, when I couldn’t rally a drinking partner. I could have gone alone … but, ugh, it was already 9:30. I would have much preferred to start the evening earlier. I sent off a quick email to tell him my girlfriend had bailed; I was actually staying in tonight, another time, perhaps. Surprisingly, Pierre was still at home and responded, explaining that he’d be at the bar around 11, 11:30 with his friends, and I should just come. Then my mind started racing—What’s holding you back? Why aren’t you putting yourself out there? What’s there to lose? You’d be going to a swanky bar, not some insane stranger’s house. What if this turns out to be some crazy-romantic story? I quickly IMed my go-to source on issues of reasoning with the male gender, my boss, Miss Amelia:

“Please tell me I just did the right thing. I may have just passed up a really rare opportunity to make new friends. French ones.”

Amelia put my mind at ease, and agreed that something seemed just a bit off. Pierre had been online, so why hadn’t he approved the Facebook request? “I think you played it safe,” she affirmed. “Sometimes when things happen too quickly, they seem a bit weird, so maybe wait to get to know him better.”

I thought that was reasonable, yet at the same time, I hesitated, never knowing what qualifies as a faux-pas in complicated French social interactions. I was pleased to find that I hadn’t ruined things when the next evening I got an email from him on my iPhone while I was out—I didn’t miss much, he said.

A bit tipsy, I replied, “Hey, so are you ever gonna accept my Facebook request, or what?”

No response. Faux-pas city. But if it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be, and so much for the loss.

As for my gains: I pushed myself to have three friend dates this week (a lot for me, it’s always tiring and scary for me to be “on” all the time). Baby steps, and I think I could really build a life here that feels home-like and normal. Well, as normal as possible in France.