I’d told myself that I could have a much needed romantic break until my return from Asia. That’s all the time that Paris was going to grant me. Ceasefire over. Summer is approaching and the love vibes are aloft, but which direction are they drifting from? For this first lively story, obviously the south.
I got out of the métro at Pigalle and crossed the street. It was Sunday night pushing 11:30 pm, my train coming back from Amsterdam had been delayed, leaving my spirit and my back in a severely despairing state. It seemed that Asia had not wanted to leave me as much as I had not wanted to leave it. I’d been gifted the souvenir of a nasty bug/spider bite in the middle of my back which got terribly infected, forcing me to go to the hospital in Holland. A very civilized experience overall, however, the doctor hadn’t given me any painkillers. So there I was at the bottom of Montmartre, staring up at the steep hill I had to climb to get home.
“Hey, salut! Ca va?” chimed a voice to my right. I looked over to a vaguely familiar face. “Don’t you remember me?”
Well, in all honestly, he did look familiar. I double-painstakingly guessed a few places where I might have met him at. On the métro? No. A concert? No. In a bar? That was the most likely answer, I think it must have been out with Dit one night after a few too many glasses of wine. Wine?
“Tu ne veux pas prendre un verre?” he attempted to persuade me to get a drink. For once, that was the last thing I wanted. I just needed to go home and slide into bed (alone), my agonizing back had kept me up for nights and also from having fun in Amsterdam.
“Maybe another night,” I mustered, then an idea struck me. “But you can carry my bag home and we can talk on the way, almost like having a drink?” I’d come to the conclusion that he must have appeared at the request of the *Teressa Magica, in order to mitigate the misery of dragging my bag all the way home. So off we went up rue Houdon, chatting along the way. The walk was going fine, at first.
After a block or so he started saying things like “je t’aime bien…” “tu me plait beaucoup….” How can he really like me a lot? He doesn’t even know me?? I highly doubted that we could have delved into any philosophical discussions when we’d previously met in passing. He tried to put his arm around mine once, repeating his invitation to stop for a drink. I inched over on the sidewalk countering his advances with “maybe another time.” He wasn’t being too pushing, his flirting tactics were just completely ineffective with me. Luckily we were approaching my street, so I started thanking him for carrying my bag and got out of giving him my number, taking his instead with ambiguous promises to arrange an apéro date. That bought me some time to think about it.
I was on antibiotics all week so I did my best to avoid any temptation to consume alcohol, another convenient excuse to push back deciding to meet him or not. I felt I sort of owed it to him for helping me, and for having the audacity to try in the first place. Still hemming and hawing, the Tuesday of the following week I was climbing up that darn hill, this time taking a completely different street, and low and behold there he was again! Was it fate? Divine intervention? Was he stalking me??
It turned out that my bag-carrying angel was from Mali so we can call him Mr Mali. I had/have nothing against dating an African or someone of African descent. The ex who dumped me at the beginning of my book is métis (as the French would say). Not all that long ago, I also dated a suave garcon from the French Antilles. I generally liked an exotic edge and Mr Mali appeared quite chic, so what was the problem here? Like a flashing neon sign: his forwardness.
I did end up meeting him for a drink, and almost immediately regretted it. We were relative neighbors so I suggested that he could take me to his favorite bar in le quartier, a curious test of his taste. He took me to one of the historic dives at Pigalle. I mean, it would be fine to go there out with friends, but not really the place you’d take a date. Plus, it was a beautiful evening after weeks of greyness, it would have made sense to sit outside, but alas, there we were, the only poor souls sitting in the dark dingy interior.
“Why don’t you sit over here?” He said patting the bench next to him. Umm no. “I can see you better from here across the table,” I stuck back. There was no way in hell I was going to sit next to him, his arm would have been around me in seconds. The barman came over and I ordered a glass of wine, which would surely be crappy in this sort of place, but it would do the trick. Mr Mali ordered a Coke… uh oh. Was it his turn to be on antibiotics? Or was there another reason for ordering a Coke?? Needing a caffeine boost? To keep his cool? Or for religious reasons? Again, I have no problem dating a Muslim and have in the past, but he’d have to share my interest in oenology or there’s no way it would work.
About half way into the conversation, perhaps right after he told me he was a braid hairdresser or possibly after he thought Canada bordered Australia (hey, I didn’t know exactly which countries Mali bordered but I knew which continent it was on and the general area it was located), he declared that we seemed to talk well and that we should go out. I stammered something about just ending a relationship and wasn’t ready to start a new one (a handy but feeble excuse). I was far from as convinced as he was about this “going out together” business, thankfully I’d made plans with Maurizio for afterwards, I could easily handle his flirtation efforts should they arise. Mr Mali wasn’t finished his declarations nor his Coke, man, I should have ordered the large-sized glass of wine. Finishing up I paid for my own drink, I didn’t want to feel like I owed him anything, and he not-very-gentlemanly let me. Standing on the same street corner where we’d met the week before, he added to his goodbye that he’d love to visit Canada with me and that we should have children together. No and noooooo.
This wasn’t exactly the “get back into the dating saddle” start I’d been thinking of… but then again, perhaps I wasn’t clear enough with the Tessera Magica. As I’ve already found in life, you have to be careful and precise about what you wish for, or the Universe might just give you exactly what you asked for or whatever else it had lying around at the time.
Another case in point for this story: a few days later it was Pussycat’s birthday and she chose a fancy new restaurant to try out for the special occasion. Our group was by far the largest in the quiet-on-a-Monday-night establishment. We were chit-chatting away then out of nowhere there’s a “Hey Lily” at my side. Looking up at the owner of the smooth voice, I almost fainted. It was Mr French Antilles. I hadn’t seen him in 2.5 years. Things hadn’t ended well, I don’t think of him much, though oddly enough he’d popped into my mind the week before as I was contemplating the Malian. Tessera! Stop playing with me! Of all people to run into… and of all places! It was so random… or was it?
Since all this, I’ve placed a new and improved boy order with my Tessera. In fact, the day after this new order, the Tessera was already starting to produce some surprises results. Could things be taking a turn for the better? We shall see, in the meantime, I’m going to concoct a text message to get rid of my Malian admirer, he’s better off inviting someone else out for Cokes.