Monday, December 26, 2011
Yep, I hooked up with Christophe the butcher.
Last March, on my first day in Paris, which was also the first day of my nomadic adventure, I sat at café and start taking videos of life in Paris. You may recall this video.
That's him. That's my boyfriend.
But at the time, I was just a tourist sitting at a café taking photos and videos like tourists tend to do. But when I came home to view the video, I noticed this handsome Daniel Craig-esque guy checking me out.
So I started checking him out. Day after day, I'd walk by him on my way up to the café on Rue Mouffetard. He'd say Bonjour and I'd say Bonjour. After a few days of this I told my friend Jennifer that I was in a relationship with the butcher.
"That was fast," she said.
Well I haven't talked to him yet. I've only said Bonjour. What if he talks back to me in French?!"
"Good point," she said. "You wouldn't want the guy you like to talk back to you."
But when I told my sister, she said, "You know French. Use your Grade Four French. You know how to say, Hello my name is Janice. What is your name?"
So the next day, I went up to him and said just that. He looked at me and said, in French, "Hello, my name is Christophe. Like on your necklace."
Now if you've been the faithful blog follower that I trust you are, I'd been wearing my St. Christopher's medal around my neck ever since the December prior when my car died and I went through the harrowing experience of being stranded on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. Luckily, I wasn't smooshed to smithereens, but I also wasn't taking any chances. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and I wanted him protecting me during my nomadic jaunt.
After Christophe told me his name, I asked him if he speaks English.
But each day I would walk up to him and say something in French that I had pieced together and rehearsed with help from Google Translate. I would see him in the morning and practice my future tense. "Today I am going to Notre Dame. After, I am going to walk around the Marais." He would nod and smile and tell me to have a nice day. At the end of the day, I would walk up to him and practice my past tense. "Today I went to Notre Dame. After, I walked around the Marais." And each day he would nod and say, "A demain?" See you tomorrow? And I would say, "A demain." See you tomorrow.
Then I'd walk home and watch my video of him like I was a crazy stalker lady.
He probably went home thinking I was slow. Cute, but slow.
After about three weeks of talking to him like a three year old, I decided that French was too hard, he was too hard to get to know and I needed to find English people before I permanently turned into a mute. I found a Meetup group for expats. My friend Nancy once said of Meetup groups in Paris, "If you’re an expat vegetarian tightrope walker, there’s a group for you."
Now I'm not one to go out on a limb and meet people. I'm introverted and crowds exhaust me. But sometimes you have to be the grown up of your life and tell your inner child who is kicking and screaming, "Get your shoes on. We're going. This is not optional."
So that's what I did. I put on my shoes and started walking up the street to the Meetup group.
But who should be sitting in a bar up the street? Why it was Christophe, wasn't it. And didn't he see me just as I was walking by. Why yes he did. And didn't he jump up like his bar stool was suddenly made of thumb tacks and rush outside to ask me if I would be interested to have a drink? Why yes he did.
But he did it in very few words. He pointed at the bar and said, "Biere?"
Lucky for him, I'm Canadian and know the French word for beer. And lucky for me, when I saddled up to the bar with Christophe, all the bartenders were Canadian and were bilingual.
Oh God in Heaven, thank you for this moment.
Teaming up with the bartenders, we managed to piece together a Franglish conversation of sorts. And when no one was looking, I asked Christophe if I could take a photo of him and I. You know, the kind where you are cheek to cheek and one of you has your arms outstretched to get the photo. And that's when he turned and kissed me! Cue sexy smooching scene.
I never did make it to the Meetup group.
Instead I walked around Paris with Christophe, with stops here and there for late night coffees and smooches. When he dropped me off at my building, I pointed up to show him the windows of the apartment where I was staying.
But I left him on the street, cheeky monkey.
The next day, I walked by the butcher shop and he said something in French that sounded like this, "Bla bla bla bla more french bla bla bla sdfasdf asdf?" But I heard that question mark at the end of the sentence, so even though I had no clue what he said, I knew he asked a question. I responded in French with, "My window tonight at 8:30?" He nodded. That night when I looked out my window at 8:30, he was standing there ready for our date. And he was standing there every night at 8:30 for the next two weeks, which were also the last two weeks of my vacation.
Cue sexy love affair in Paris.
We walked all over Paris and continued to have late night coffees and wines and beers and food and smooches. We went to the Louvre and to the Eiffel Tower. And many streets in between. We walked and (sort of) talked the whole time.
And then I left, because being a nomad means not staying in one place for too long. For all I knew, this was a lovely experience in Paris and could be just a nice fling. Plus, my European tour couldn't start and end in Paris.
Or could it?
After a few months of touring around Edinburgh, Glasgow, Yorkshire Dales, London, Rome, Venice, Florence and the Amalfi Coast, Christophe asked me to return to Paris, "To see."
When I started my nomadic journey, I thought I'd end up in Rome. I'd meet some lovely Roman man, woo his mamma by being the best version of a Canadian Penelope Cruz I could be, and spend my days clasping my hands in glee and exclaiming, "Mamma mia!" to our handsome brood of Roman babies, whose mere existence would constantly amaze me.
But in life we must accept who is asking and accept who is not.
No one was asking me to stay in Rome, but I had a handsome, kind man asking me to return to Paris.
So I did.
And so commenced a summer in Paris with Christophe. Each night before bed, he would say, "A demain?" See you tomorrow? I would reply with, "A demain." Yes, see you tomorrow.
I returned to North America to clean out my apartment in Santa Monica, get my French visa in Toronto and be with my family in Norfolk County for Christmas. (FACT: Norfolk County is the baked goods capital of Canada... which means I've got good training for the bakeries of Paris.)
So tomorrow, when Christophe calls me and asks, "A demain?" I'll be able to say, "Oui. A demain."
Yes, I'll see you tomorrow.
Posted by Janice MacLeod