After a week and a half of no classes, I’m breathing a sigh of relief to be back on a normal schedule. Maybe it was the lack of structure in my life that was making everything go so nuts – this weekend in particular.
I’m not quite sure how this happened, but between two French guys I ended up with five dates in four days. First was Thomas – he’s a masters student at Sciences Po, 23, really smart and cute and nice. He’s the one I went out with on Wednesday and Thursday and the one who triggered a panicked freak-out by kissing me.
I had to babysit late Friday night, and I was supposed to be hanging out with Rubens on Saturday night, so we couldn’t hang out again until Sunday, when he wanted to make me dinner. This left me two days to figure out how to communicate tactfully in French that I do not, in fact, want to date him.
Before dinner yesterday, we met in front of the grande pyramide du Louvre to take a walk. He wanted to meet at 19h30, which is probably a good two hours before normal French people eat, so I figured that would be the perfect time to tell him – a quick and awkward conversation and then I could escape and go hang out with Rachael instead. No such luck, unfortunately.
After explaining to T that I was sorry but I’d realized that I just did not want to be dating anyone right now (I was pretty proud at how well I pulled out the kind-of-break-up speech in French), I felt like kind of a terrible person. What could I do, though? It was a million times better to just tell him up front than to pretend that I was into dating him as long as I could keep up the illusion.
T, understandably, did not take it that well, and I was treated to a half hour lecture in French about how I had led him on. He asked how many guys I’d done this to before him, and I was getting kind of mad at his bitterness. I felt like I deserved it though, because I really should have told him on Thursday, so I let him work out his frustrations. Then he informed me that he had a three-course dinner prepared and waiting for us, and I’d be making an idiot out of him if I didn’t come over and eat it still.
The last thing I wanted to do was go have a ruined-romantic dinner with this guy, but I was still feeling like kind of a mean person so I went along with it. Unsurprisingly, it was the most awkward hour and a half I’ve spent here. He was kind of irritated still, and started drinking wine which was cool with me because it put him in a much better mood – until he started rambling about how I was a “bourreau du coeur” which I did not understand at all. It was even more awkward to listen to him trying to explain the meaning (which is apparently “heartbreaker,” or literally, “executioner of the heart”), and all I wanted was to escape as fast as I could.
I’d considered telling him that I just couldn’t date anyone seriously right now, but I don’t think that would have worked out. T is only 23, but I think he’s too old for me – he’s happiest spending a quiet night at home with a special girl and a glass of wine. That sounds nice and everything, but I’m only 20 years old and I’m in Paris for less than a year. I don’t want to spend my nights drinking wine, listening to jazz and gazing into someone’s eyes – that “romantic” stuff makes me restless and claustrophic.
Rubens, on the other hand, turned out perfectly. On Saturday night we went to see the Black Dahlia with Rachael – not highly recommended. This was a movie with a lot of unrealized potential (plus there was a really scary clown picture that was central to the plot that gave Rachael and I nightmares). Rubens and I also had lunch on Sunday (sans Rachael), and in preparation for Thomas later, I gave it to him straight. I told him I did not want a boyfriend, which was cool, because he doesn’t want a girlfriend – just “a cool girl to hang out with.”
We both love movies, so I think we’re just going to be chill movie buddies – which is exactly what I need. Just because I’m at Sciences Po and I know what I want to do with my life does not mean that I want to skip being twenty years old. I don’t want to stay in drinking wine and watching dubbed Stanley Kubrick movies every night – I want to go see the new Casino Royale with another twenty year-old who loves James Bond as much as I do and who is not going to try and romance me with a fancy dinner. (T, as nice as he was, claimed to love James Bond, but I’m a little suspicious of the fact that he’s never seen Dr. No and had absolutely no clue that the new 007 was coming out next Wednesday). I want to hang out with a guy who is not going to be jealous or offended if I ditch him to go dancing with the girls instead. All I want is chill – plus we alternate between French and English, so it’ll still be good for my speaking skills.
Anyway, after all the loose boy ends were wrapped up last night, I was kind of hopped up on adrenaline and went straight over to Rachael’s apartment. We went out for drinks and crépes and then returned to her apartment for wine and Sex and the City. I really think good girl time is the only thing that can fully heal awkward boy time, and we ended up having a really good night – mainly because we accidentally found the best crêpes of my life…hallelujah for nutella-banane.
I left her place at 2h to try and catch the Noctilien (the all-night bus), and ended up making it just in time – but only because I sprinted straight across Place de la Bastille (I wasn’t drunk, just filled with fear of missing the bus). This was a terrible idea, and I would probably have been safer braving walking alone than dashing through the Parisian traffic, but I’m alive now so it’s all good.
I still had to walk a couple of blocks back from the bus stop and there is nothing that puts me in a better mood than walking around Paris listening to my iPod. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of crossing the Seine listening to the least appropriate music I can come up with. It just really tickles me to look around at these reserved Parisians who have no clue that they’re stepping in time to “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls, or “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness.
Anyway, I’m technically in class right now, listening to a Duhamel lecture on French politics, and I am completely neglecting my actual notes, but that was the complete gossip update for those of you who have been requesting it.
For my dad: I am still not in love with any Frenchmen, and I am still not planning on expatriation. Don’t worry – as romantic as these French boys are supposed to be…the grand gestures apparently do not work on me. Au contraire, they kind of make me want to run away – right back to chill Seattle.
* I finally added some Halloween pictures here. As you can see, we were in a very small majority in our costumes.
** Because so many people smoke here, it’s quite common to be stopped on the street and asked for a light. Last night as Rachael and I were walking toward rue Oberkampf, a slightly seedy-looking couple stopped us for a light. We apologized and told them we didn’t have one and started walking again, until the woman called out, “Comment est-ce que c’est possible que vous n’avez pas du feu?” (How is it possible that you don’t have a light?) We answered that we didn’t smoke and her response was, “Il faut fumer! C’est 2006! Il faut commencer tout suite!” (You must smoke! This is 2006! You must start immediately). We had no clue what to say, so we just thanked her and continued on our way, laughing for about three more blocks.
*** So the movie Step Up that came out in the U.S. over the summer is just about to hit theatres here. Because of this, all the buses and metro stations are plastered with posters advertising the movie. The funny part is that the French title of the movie is not “Step Up,” but “Sexy Dance.” The first time I saw a bus with “Sexy Dance” scrawled across its side I started laughing on rue des Saints Pères and got quite a few weird looks.