365 Days In Paris: Mea Culpa
Je suis désolée. I’m sorry. I spent some time last week reading my posts from the past two months and realized that, well, I’ve been a complete Debbie Downer lately. This is the supposedly adventurous life of some girl in Paris??? I thought as I clicked through. Sure, the whole Alex fiasco was definitely a dramatic romance, but looking back at my words, I saw how I was missing everything around me. My waking up was in part prompted by a random IM from an acquaintance back in NYC. An older man with whom I’ve always had a guiltily flirtatious rapport with. When I told him I’d been a bit down lately, he almost berated me. “You have to have adventures. You are so free now. You’ll see: later, there will be no time for this type of stuff. You need to just go places and see things.” For a moment this made me depressed. As if I were barreling headfirst towards this place of older age and responsibility, and was already regretting not being more fun right now. But then I saw that he was right. Why do we spend so much of our lives living in the future? Or lingering in the past? Why does it never occur to you to just not think too much about things? (Well, because it’s really hard to do this, but it shouldn’t be.) That day, I made two swift decisions. The first was to get out of France. No, not leave, exactly. But to do just as my friend had said—go adventuring. Realizing that Israel is only a six-hour flight from Paris, I called my cousins in Tel Aviv to ask if I could come for a visit. “Come whenever you want!” they said. So even though the ticket was far more than I should have spent, I bit the bullet and booked a flight for the end of March. When’s the next time you’ll have the opportunity to spend Passover in Israel? I asked myself. The answer: probably not for years and years, so here was the time to go experience the country in one of the most meaningful ways possible.
The second decision was to get out of the house. On Friday night, I decided I wanted to go out out, as in, put on a short skirt and heels, go to a fancy bar, and hopefully meet some people of the male persuasion. I had only one person I felt might be up for this, an American girl named Sarah I’d met last week. She was the only single girl my age in Paris I knew, and so I was hoping she’d be game.
A few hours later, I was walking along the Seine to St. Germain, my heels clicking happily on the cobblestones. Smiling at the lit-up facade of the Louvre across the river, I smiled, feeling sassy and pretty for the first time in weeks, months maybe. She’d picked the bar, the Prescription Cocktail Club, a lounge I’d never been to. I was pleasantly surprised and excited when we walked past the bouncer at the unmarked door. The place felt just like a New York bar, and it was clear that its clientele came there just because of the distinctly non-Euro atmosphere. For once, a good mix of attractive single guys and girls were mingling and getting tipsy. What you usually get in Paris is a bunch of groups sequestered away at closed-off tables, and girls demurely sipping their drinks. (French girls just don’t seem to drink a lot, which is fine, but they also seem to have something against having too much fun.)
As we stood by the bar sipping gin and tonics, Sarah and I scanned the room, whispering into each other’s ears about who was cute, who was super hot but wearing a wedding ring, who we thought we might be able to strike up a talk with. At some point, Sarah began talking to some guy who was obviously interested in her, and when I couldn’t quite make my way into the conversation, I decided to make a trip to the bathroom and check out the scene upstairs.
As I exited the stall of the communal bathroom, and decided to reapply my lipstick in the mirror above the sink, a scrappy guy from another stall exited and shyly motioned to the sink so he could get in. I quickly put away my lipstick, suddenly embarrassed by applying makeup in public, and smiled nervously. He smiled back. Leaving the restroom, I walked slowly, trying to sense where he’d go back to. I found myself waiting at the edge of the crowd in line for the upstairs bar, and decided to stick with it because I didn’t have a drink anyhow. I was in luck: Scrappy bathroom boy joined me at my side, attempting to get closer to the bar. The wait was taking forever, and a few times we exchanged smiles or rolled our eyes. Finally he said, “Taking forever, huh?” He said it in French, and with all the noise, I didn’t quite make out the words and I nervously asked him to repeat it. Just as I was agreeing, a spot near the counter opened up and he lunged for it, but looked back at me, “What are you getting?” he yelled in English. (I had to laugh. Was I so obvious?) “Une bière,” I shouted back.
When he came back with two Heinekens, I got out my wallet, asking how much I owed him, but he waved it off. “No, I buy your drink. You shouldn’t have to wait for so long.”
All of a sudden, we were just talking. Incredible. How many months had it taken me to meet someone on a night out? Was I just lucky tonight? Or was it this easy?
Unfortunately, our conversation wasn’t quite that romantic, flirtatious thing you hope for when you meet an attractive stranger. It dropped off after a few minutes, and we both awkwardly went back to our respective groups.
At this point it was getting late, and I was feeling a bit like a third wheel with Sarah and her new manfriend, so I decided to call it a night after she told me she wanted to stay and maybe meet up with some other people later. As I exited the bar, I ran into Scrappy bathroom boy on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette.
“You leaving?” he asked.
“Yeah … I’m pretty exhausted.”
“No, you should come weeth me and my friends. We go to … ” he said the name of some bar or club I didn’t recognize. But I nodded knowingly anyhow, and hesitated. He was cute, and I was enjoying the attention, but I also was truly tired and am not the type of person to get a second wind at 2 a.m. I told him thanks, but I really needed to get a good night’s sleep.
“OK, well I give you my number if you change your mind?” he suggested.
So I took his number … and am still deciding what to do with it.