The first one is back here.
His name was "Pierre".
As I may have alluded to before, when I was 20, my Dad and I embarked on an odyssey to the Old Country (ie. Ireland) for about 8 weeks at the end of the year 2000.
It was a wonderful trip, but I would be lying if I didn't say by the end of it, I was FAIRLY keen to get away from the old fellow for some ME TIME. The plan was that on the way home, he and I would fly together to Frankfurt where we would then part ways, at which point he would go back to Oz and I would continue on to spend a week in Paris staying with my cousin D and his lovely wife I.
I know. The excitement!
Paris at the turn of the new millennium was everything my youthful heart could have hoped for.
|Paris just being all Parisian. Look at the Parisian-ness of it all! Skating, coats, ice rink, noice old building, etcetera.|
I would nod and answer questions from shop assistants and train conductors by smiling and waving my hands around, repeating "Oui, oui! Camembert, cafe au lait, Pepe le Pew!!" or something similar until they left me alone, shaking their heads, leaving me smugly convinced I was a natural.
Once, a French person even stopped me and asked for directions! I TOTALLY BLENDED IN I WAS SO EFFING FRENCH!
One day I was walking back to the train station after having a successful day at the January sales. I was swinging my Euro-tat filled shopping bags and practically skipping along the path outside the Louvre. I know, the Louvre! SO COOL!
|Here's the ole pyramid thingoes outside the Louvre, with some GENUINE PARISIAN PEOPLE walking about. SO COSMOPOLITAN!|
I tried finding a picture of a similar young man in Paris but when I Googled "Young man in Paris" I only got these pictures...tee hee hee hee...
He didn't look like that.
Anyway as I walked past, he caught my eye, and dashed across to me as I clumped along the cobblestones. I tried to ignore him. I know, such good manners and sophistication! I was doing my antipodean family proud.
He waved, and fell in next to me, pointing to his watch and asking me a question in French. Because of how we were in France, and all. Ha.
I guessed he was using the time honoured trick of asking a lady for the time of day in order to strike up a conversation. Probably so he could, like, steal my purse or something. I was ONTO HIM!
I shook my head and said the only French I knew - "I'm sorry. I don't speak French." Well schooled by my over protective and cynical Aussie mother about the danger of Foreign Men in Strange Cities, I furrowed my brow at him discouragingly, and marched along the street, swinging my bag higher and more aggressively and clomping ever faster in my huge boots.
|Just another picture of Paris. Those crazy Parisians with their Arc de Triumph and their cars and their relaxed road rules.|
"Aha!" he exclaimed. "But, mah gerrrrlfrrend, she hess jerst left to leev in Australie! She will be studying in Canberra."
Oh yeah, I thought to myself. Right. What a coincidence. I'll bet she is. Pfft.
I smiled wanly at him and strode on.
"My name, eet ees Pierre," he added.
OF COURSE it is, I scoffed internally, rolling my eyes. What a cliche. Who did he think I was, some LOSER TOURIST?? I was practically a local.
"Meh-bee you would like to hev a coffee wis me?", he asked eagerly, smiling into my scowling face.
HOLY SHIT! I thought, suddenly panicked. If text lingo had been invented back then I would have been thinking OMG and WTF.
Why is he asking me this!? Oh crap he is totally going to KILL ME AND STEAL MY PASSPORT! What do I do?
He continued talking as we walked and questions ran through my head.
Surely it was wrong to have a coffee with a RANDOM STRANGE MAN who accosted me in the street outside the Louvre?
Or was it?
If I said no, would he, like, PUNCH ME IN THE FACE AND TAKE MY HANDBAG!?
Why do all young men in Paris wear deck shoes?
I was in between a rock and a hard place.
Eventually I said, coolly, "Sure, OK. We can do that. Yep. No problem. Coffee. Excellent idea. Hehe. Yep. I'm down with that. Yes sirree. Coffee. Me and you. Uh huh. Let's go. Indeedy do."
He looked pleased, which freaked me out even more. Still, I had committed myself, so we walked together to the cafe that he suggested.
We sat down at a table in the corner, and he looked eagerly into my eyes while I thought, Great, it's probably some bloody set up, he probably knows the owner and they are going to STEAL MY HANDBAG AND PASSPORT AND RAPE ME AND DUMP MY BODY IN THE SEINE, SO TYPICAL!!!! I AM NOT FALLING FOR THIS ONE BUDDY!
He ordered coffees and water. The waiter brought them to the table and I sat nervously fiddling with the napkin until Pierre reached out suddenly and grabbed my hand. He stroked it and said, "Meh-bee, while you are in Paris, Sarah, I can perheps be your French boyh-frahnd, oui?"
My eyes widened in horror and I snatched my hand away from his tender grasp.
TOTALLY PROOF HE WAS GOING TO DRUG ME AND KILL ME! I'D BE IN ALL THE PAPERS! ARRRGGHHHH! WHY HAD I AGREED TO THIS FOOLISH IDEA ANYWAY!!!!!
"Um, no no, er, no, I don't think so. No, thanks all the same, no, I don't think that's a good idea at all. I'm terribly sorry. Oh, is that the time? Oh no, I have to run, I have to meet my COUSIN at his HOUSE WHERE I AM STAYING and they are expecting me RIGHT NOW!"
I jumped to my feet, my arm connecting with the jug of water and sending it flying across the table, soaking my ill fated suitor's jacket. He looked dismayed and a bit disgusted.
I stammered a hasty apology, grabbed my bag, and practically ran screaming from the cafe.
I ran all the way to the train station, and when I got back to the apartment I told my cousin and his wife the story of my near miss, between breathless tears.
My cousin's wife, Parisian born and bred, rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, French men! Pah! Zey are all the same...I cannot even eat mah lurnch in ze gardens wissout heving one try it on wis me. Pah. Why do you sink I married an Australian man?"
Blinking back my tears, I said "So, that was normal? He wasn't, you know, a sex pest?"
"Ah, no, zey are all ze same I tell you!" She threw her hands up in disgust.
I felt dejected.
He'd obviously seen something charming in my corduroy pants, multi-coloured boot laces and sleeveless turtleneck, and I had cruelly spurned him, panicked by my over developed sense of STRANGER DANGER and the constant burden of my hyper sensitive bullshit detector. The poor bastard.
Wonder what became of him. I'm sure these days he's married to someone who looks like this:
And they probably have children who look like this:
And they presumably shop somewhere like this:
He's bloody lucky he didn't become my "French boyh-frehnd" because I would have probably made him move to Queensland and shop at Aldi.
A near miss for him indeed.
Until next time my friends, au revoir!
And don't forget, never trust a man in a foreign country! Ever! He might want to BUY YOU A COFFEE!? The horror.
EDITED TO ADD: Linking up with Blogs and PR's Talk to me Thursday!