It is December 2018 and on the heels of the holidays everyone is paired up.
I’m surrounded by couples who are constantly searching for an opportunity to begin kissing – passionately! On the metro traveling from point A to B, how to pass the time? Kiss!
Stopped to cross the road and waiting for the pedestrian sign to alight? Kiss and caress!
In a restaurant waiting for your order to arrive? Stroke each others face and kiss each others hands, forearms and shoulders before finally landing in a lip locked tongue dancing embrace.
It makes me wonder if I’m missing out on something. Where is my french romance?
I see men in real life that I am attracted to, but mostly on the metro where I am going my way and them theirs. We might make a lingering eye contact but that’s it. On the street or in cafes it’s the same. Every now and then in a cafe where I am working, engrossed by my laptop screen looking up every now and then to stretch my eyes and remind myself where I am I might spot someone who looks like my type. And he might spot me too. But the type of men I’m interested in are decent and respectful and would never dare interrupt me like that. The stars would have to be perfectly aligned for us to speak and so far the celestial bodies have not been cooperating. Ugh.
I downloaded tinder. I don’t know why though. I swipe left on everyone, except if it’s a superlike I might consider. I considered. He claimed to be a musician. I always wanted to meet a saxophone player. He was a few years younger than me but it could be interesting to switch it up for a change.
I should have been suspicious that he only had pictures of him that were such low quality they looked like they were taken by a Motorola Razr. In every picture he was wearing a cap. The one photo when he wasn’t both hands were interlocked above his forehead. That was the smoking gun if there was ever one. Here we have a prematurely balding man who has not made peace with the cards he’s been dealt.
We went back and forth in French and he corrected my mistakes which was okay, it was done in a playful manner. He tried that old flirting trick about offering to be my teacher ‘avec plaisir’ I chuckled.
We switched to WhatsApp and he sent a voice note with the pronunciation of his name. He sounded so French I swooned. I played that clip so many times and with each replay he grew more and more handsome and suave in my mind.
We planned to meet for a walk/coffee. I woke up with feelings of romance and adventure. I was walking on sunshine, despite the overcast sky. I dressed carefully. One might say, to the nines but in a casual manner. Just so he could know who he was dealing with. I wore my nice watch. My black pants were free of lint. My leather booties were spotless. I wore a green wool turtleneck and over it my black coat with the contrasting gold hardware. In my bag I placed my leather gloves and blue/grey mohair scarf.
I prefer to see myself without makeup so I didn’t wear anything more than a brush of mascara and some glossier (link) balm. I looked good.
Our meeting point was 10 minutes from my apartment. I arrived on time and stood under a leafless tree feeling romantic in the cool December breeze. I imagined him walking towards me, with a confident smile actually as tall as he claimed to be (a full 2 inches taller than me).
So you can imagine my horror when I saw walking towards me a man so dusty looking it was as if someone put him on a shelf back in 1994 and only just now ordered him to climb down. This man who looked like he had been sitting down on his couch all day and 5 minutes before our meeting time, he got up and came in what he had on. Which is to say he made zero effort and probably arrived in the clothes he slept in that night.
He approached me almost in slow motion, and once I saw him I almost couldn’t bear to keep looking.
Is this really what I left my house for?
It’s not only that he was not handsome, it’s not even that. Yes without the baseball caps he was wearing in his profile it was clear he was completely bald. But he just did not look clean. And it was clear that those photos were probably taken with a Motorola Razr as he looked 10 years older in person. And he was much much shorter than me.
This must be what they mean by catfish.
I was so embarrassed. I felt tricked. Then I thought maybe I was being shallow. We decided to walk towards the Rhone river.
The date itself was okay. Ultimately I wanted to test my language skills and see if I could hold my own in French. I could. But the entire time I felt tricked. As we walked I looked down and noticed that not even his shoes were clean. His ill fitting jeans swept up the cigarette butts littering the streets.
He seemed like an okay guy though. He said a few things that were amusing, but when I laughed it was begrudgingly. He asked if I wanted to stop for a coffee and I said why not. As we sat at a tiny table he stared at my hands, following them as they moved from the coffee cup up towards my face.
After the coffee it was time to say goodbye (forever). I wished him a good night. He, in a strained voice asked ‘we will keep in touch, yes?’. I smiled grimly and mumbled something indecipherable even to myself.
A few hours later he would send me a text message wishing me a happy new year. I replied in English ‘thanks u too’ and deleted the chat history from my phone. Thankfully he could take a hint because I never heard from him again.
Is this really the type of men France has to offer?