Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. Sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself. But seriously, I’m pretty sure I’ve never told this story here, and apologize if I have. My memory really is for shit.
Yesterday’s post, got me to thinking about this. It was the early 90s and I was living in the UK, attending university and learning all kinds of important stuff that you can’t learn in a classroom. I can’t remember the timing, but at some point I set off for a couple of weeks in Paris. I’d spent some time in France before, spoke passable French, but had only ever passed through Paris. So the plan was for me to go to Paris and spend a little time there. Loving it.
Random: I had this theory that as long as I had decent shoes and a nice coat (it was a cold weather month) that I wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb. That I could maybe pass for “not American”. Which was important to me. I wanted to blend in. Not just be another insufferable, American tourist. I was very young, and absolutely insufferable.
My second night in Paris found me where else, but a cafe on the left bank. I was sipping slowly at my coffee and writing in my journal. I’d been there about 30 minutes when I realized that the very hot (older) man at the next table was looking my way. I remember hunching over, not wanting him to see what I was writing. More specifically, I didn’t want him to see me writing in English. For whatever bizarro reason.
A few minutes after I noticed him looking at me he asked, “What are you writing?”
And so began a brief and very flirty conversation. His English was perfect. Much better than my French. He was a pilot and had been to flight school in Florida. And he clearly wanted to pick me up. However, he was being coy about it.
He offered to give me a private tour of the Chateau de Versailles. He grew up nearby and knew it well, or so he said. But, it was already hours past closing time (Which I knew, as it was on my list of things to do and had checked out the schedule). That didn’t stop me from accepting his offer, and leaving with him in his zippy little Renault. More randomness: People in Paris drive like freaking maniacs on speed.
As we drove, he continued to pretend we were going to Versailles. He talked about how beautiful it all was, and how much I’d like it. I played along.
And then, he says, why don’t we stop in at my place? It’s on the way. I can’t remember if he gave me a why. He didn’t need to, though. I knew that was the plan from the beginning.
So we went to his place. And he kept talking and talking and talking. It took him at least 45 minutes to make a move.
Anyway, I ended up spending that night. And most of the nights of my trip with him. Most of my plans got changed up. I never even made it to Versailles.
At some point he suggested I stay with him, longer. For as long as I wanted. But that so wasn’t going to happen. For lots of reasons that I won’t get into now. Perhaps another time.
The thing that stands out most in my mind now, when I think back on this little fling, is how important it was for him that first night to pretend we were going to Versailles. Even after we got to his place, he continued to pretend that is was just a brief stop. That we’d be heading back out.
Towards the end of my stay, we talked about that first night. I told him that I’d known all along (that the Chateau was closed for the night). He was annoyed. Or upset. I’m not sure which. He wanted to be fooling me. To be taking advantage of my naivete. The reality that I let him pick me up, and knew all along that it was a pick up, made me less attractive to him.
It was a game. And the rules dictated that I play my part.
It was the last time I played clueless ingenue.
Tags: Memories, Paris