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After the matching denim-suit-wearing 70-year-old on my last flight to Paris, who tried to sell me his “love potion,” I realized that I attract a certain genre of men: crazy. If this had been an isolated incident I would have just chucked it up to bad luck, but alas, there has been Marc the metrosexual, nice, but knew too much about the personal life of Sarah Jessica Parker; the man with the skull ring who tried to lick my earlobe in the métro; and well, let’s face, it every boyfriend I’ve had in the last three years has asked me to marry him (in under a month). It has occurred to me that I should stop picking up men in laundromats and giving bus drivers my cell number. From now on, I will commit to a high-tech screening process: the Internet.
Normal girl in search of normal heterosexual male. I have decided that he should be French, because I have now been here nine months and I still respond to every question with “oui (“non”), “C’est pas grave.” And if I have to learn French, why not reward myself with a few French kisses while I’m at it?
And what else should he be…
There is a running joke between Laura and Myke. Whenever we are out at a café or bar and someone that Myke is not attracted to walks in, one of them is sure to say, “Kirsten! He’s unattractive. Why don’t you go ask him for his phone number?”
I don’t date ugly people. Well…at least not on purpose. It’s just that, I mean, who really cares? Not all of us can be as pretty as Myke and Laura and it’s not as though being attractive is a great accomplishment. Good for them. Their parents were pretty. But still…it would be nice to date someone with a little sex appeal.
Operation: date someone who is not unfortunate-looking or gay.
My first day on French Match.com, I received 100 replies. I’m not boasting. Of the 100 profiles I perused, 6/10 wanted to be “just” friends and 4/10 were married or over 50. Three fifths of them were in search of a young mother for their six-year-olds and live in remote villages in India where I wasn’t even aware that they had Internet access. I have narrowed the prospects down to three candidates to be considered for Kirsten’s first French boyfriend: Arnaud, 26, librarian; Hughes, 28, banker; François, 25, computer engineer.
Monsieur Librarian. Arnaud. Our shared interests are books and pizza. We met at the Alesia métro stop in the 14th, six blocks from Laura’s apartment, in case I need to call in the rescue team.
I’m wearing jeans, flip flops, and a black T-shirt with white writing across the chest, but I don’t know what it says because it‘s in French. Okay, either I’m really early or he’s 20 minutes late. Where is he? I’m expecting 5’11”, brown hair, brown eyes. I’ve seen a picture so I should be able tell what he looks like, but his eyes were closed in the picture, so it’s hard to tell which of the five 5’11” guys outside the station is him.
Whoa! Three cars screech in the middle of the intersection. The red Mini Coop is honking insistently–that’s the car I decided I wanted after seeing The Italian Job, but my brother said I wasn’t allowed’ cause it wouldn’t be safe for me to drive. Plus, I don’t have a driver’s license.
There is a young man climbing over the hood of the mini coop, and now the drivers of all three cars are screaming at him. He slides off the hood and walks towards the audience that has gathered at the métro station. He makes eye contact with me–I break it but he won’t. He walks towards me. And the 5’11” brown hair, brown eyed librarian kisses my cheeks–which are bright red with embarrassment. (Internal cry: I DON’T KNOW HIM!!!! I promise!)
Since we both like pizza, he takes me to dinner at Pizza Hut. For himself, he orders a large cheese pizza and a diet Pepsi that he has the waitress refill three times. I nibble on the crust of my personal size vegetarian.
“So, um, a librarian…you know in the U.S. that means that you work in a library, but I understand that’s not the case in France…so uh…”
I’m distracted. By his eyes. His right eye is staring directly at me, but his left is looking off towards the bathroom. I focus on the right eye, not wanting to be rude.
“Like well, so here a librarian is someone that works in a bookstore?”
Okay, now his left eye is roaming. WHICH ONE DO I LOOK AT?
(He sneezes.) And both of his eyes focus center.
Well. Very attractive. Too attractive for me. At least. 6’2”–black hair, green eyes, wears Paul Smith glasses. We go for sushi at this ultra-modern bar by La Samaritaine, underneath the Kenzo store. They have computer screens at every seat and each screen is assigned a number. The idea is that you text message any person you are interested in meeting. You scope out the restaurant and then pick a number.
Hughes and I sit across from one and other.
“So…Where do you live in Paris?”
“So, I’m sorry, where did you say you live in Paris?”
Still nothing. Why is he giving me the silent treatment? Are we twelve? I try once more.
“Where do you live?”
He takes his chopstick, reaches over the table and bangs it on top of my computer screen. I jump back in fright, almost falling off my stool. I regain my balance and see that I have “1 New Message: I live in the 8th.”
I get it. He won’t respond to my questions unless I send them to him in an “email.” After about ten minutes, my hand is starting to cramp and my eyes are tearing from staring at the screen. I squint to read the newest message he‘s sent, “What are you wearing?”
I reply: “You’re an idiot.”
François, computer engineer:
I wasn’t going to go (given my two previous experiences with Match.com) but then I figured, could it really get any worse? Well, maybe, but how much worse? And what kind of crazies would worse bring? I met number three purely to appease my curiosity.
Thursday night. Saint-Paul métro, 7:30 pm. I’m hiding behind a pole pretending to delete old text messages from my phone. When he comes up the escalator I’ll see him, and if he appears to be crazy, cross-eyed or mute, I will jump on the bus to Bastille.
I think I see him. Oh God! Okay. He’s six feet, pale, skinny (boney). he’s wearing a hooded black sweat-shirt and a black backpack. He clearly smokes marijuana and enjoys setting off cherry bombs in public toilets. I’m leaving.
I head for the bus pulling up to the curb. Well, well, well. Who are you? (an internal question, directed at Super Cutie getting off the bus). Should I call him Adorable Blue Eyes? Or Great Taste In Clothes? Defined Biceps or Nice Butt? Hey you! Get back on the bus! Where are you going? You can sit with me. (Hair-flip, wink.)
Just as I’m about to pass him, Super Cutie grabs my right arm and kisses my right cheek, “Kirsten?”
Yes. Oh, yes.