Not all Frenchmen are created equal. Thank God, Buddha and President Macron.
After several months of dating some lovely men, but also a few morons, I finally agreed to date a man I probably should have gone out with the first time he asked me, months earlier.
And not just because he seemed to fit all of my criteria; tall, handsome, smart and French. Not much to ask, right?
I didn’t though, partly because our schedules conflicted, but also because he proposed to have brunch together, not like other men who were willing to agree to just an apéro or coffee. Or vegetable juice (yep, that was a date that really happened).
Normally I insisted on a drink for a first date so it would be easy to make a quick exit, should the man turn out to be a complete dickhead, boring as hell, look nothing like his profile picture, or possess unspeakable personal hygiene.
Committing to a meal on a first date means that you’re obliged to sit it out, when perhaps every fibre of your being wants to run out.
In the end I agreed to brunch because there was a sweetener; he proposed going afterwards to Musee l’Orangerie to see Monet’s renowned waterlily paintings. Being the art lover that I am, I said,
“Oui ! Where and what time!?”
But brunch was, in a word, excruciating. Because in front of me sat a man who was clearly as bored with my company as a fat kid with a bowl of vegetables.
I could barely stomach my huge French formule of croissants, chocolat chaud, eggs with sausage and salade des fruits, which he had also ordered for himself and wolfed down in about the time it took me to say bon appetit.
In my nervousness and desire to keep the conversation flowing, I accidentally repeated a question I’d already asked and saw his eyes doing the same 360 degree flip I felt my stomach doing.
I decided right then,
You’re not for me, buddy. I’ll sit through this brunch, get my art fix, then it’s over, you hear me?! O-VAH!
I kept waiting for him to say “Look, I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to work out” - my own exit strategy for crappy dates - and to cancel the rest of the date.
But he didn’t.
We visited the museum which was sublime, he took a pretty photo of me in front of the breathtaking waterlily paintings, then we left. To my utter surprise, he asked me what I would like to do next.
Shocked that he seemed to still want to be in my company, but because the sunshine was gorgeous, I suggested we go walking. Which is the national French pastime, after whingeing. Whingeing while walking probably comes a close third.
Strolling through the gorgeous Tuileries Garden we came across a funpark where I told him how much I love dodgem cars. Before I could stop him, he’d bought tickets and the next thing I knew, we were tearing around the circuit in one, laughing our heads off like three year olds.
In my high heels and silk skirt, my knees became rapidly bruised in our tiny vehicle while he threw us around the track, with his 6'4" body squished alongside me folded up like a human paperclip.
Then it was on to a quiet little bistro to rehydrate with a couple of Perriers. I suddenly had a ‘moment’.
Here I was in Paris, brunching with a tall, good looking Frenchman, soaking my soul in some of the finest art in the world, roaring hilariously around a Parisian funpark in dodgem cars, now sitting in the sunshine sipping Perriers. Somebody pinch me!
And still no suggestion from him to finish the date.
Along with a couple of four letter English swear words he’d casually dropped into the conversation, and the first cigarette he permitted himself in my company, I started to suspect this man was finally beginning to relax and enjoy my company. As I found myself enjoying his, to my surprise and delight.
However, having organised previously to hang out with my girlfriend that evening chez moi, I needed to get home soon. He gallantly offered to drive me.
I should have paid more attention to the way he hurled us around the dodgem track, because the minute this man got behind the wheel of his Porsche to take me home, I realised I may as well have been sitting next to Alain Prost.
The glint in his eye, toothy grin, rapid gear changes, slew of swear words flung at other drivers in his way whilst speeding like a demon through the streets of Paris told me that they were - in his mind - nothing more than a giant racetrack.
Clutching onto the armrest so as not to “play corners” and inadvertently slam my whole body into him every time he took a right turn at heart-stopping speed, I saw a completely different man to the too-cool-for-school Frenchman that had inhaled his brunch opposite me just a few hours ago.
This man was more complex than I thought, more alive ... and fun!
After screeching strategically to a halt right in front of my goggle-eyed girlfriend waiting for me at my building, I deliberately planted a kiss on his cheek, bid him à bientôt and peeled, one by one, each of my body parts from the seat to climb, breathless, from his car.
I no longer thought, You’re not for me, buddy.
I now hoped I would hear from Monsieur Prost again.
And I did.