I’m chained to my bed in Paris.
It’s winter again. I call it winter, they call it fresh air, but I miss the sun already. I shouldn’t complain though, the memory of the smell of sweaty June in the metro still makes me turn my head towards the open window. Better the cool of wine cellar than the oasis illusion of a saj oven.
Sunday. Hot sticky no escape Sunday. My suitcases were packed and I was ready to exit the steamy womb of my soon to be ex-home.
I met Lucifer in front of the fountain. We were going to have some dripping gelato.
Lucifer was a mutual friend. I’d hear of him from hims and hers and just a few days ago, we had finally met.
He was an interesting looking type. Short and skinny, a few couple years my senior, black hair peppered with white, Italian. He had an interesting way of looking at things and of talking. We’d chat, silence would present itself, we’d turn to someone else, he’d reappear, we’d chat again and so on. Never empty words, and I liked that.
As we walked towards the ice-cream shop we’d never find, we talked about everything. I remember my mom would ask me what I talked about with people I’d see.
I’d say “Everything”.
Well, mainly about everything about ourselves. Random things on every subject.
The heat reflecting off the stone walls, the asphalt, the pavement, the metal poles, the people, off each other was becoming unbearable. And with the ice-cream shop nowhere within our sight, Lucifer took us by the leash and to Café George on the roof of Centre Pompidou.
I had never been there for drinks and welcomed the idea of filling a checkbox on the Wallpaper* list (pure speculation here).
He ordered a beer and I had a flashback to some lazy day on the beach back home and ordered some pineapple mix cocktail. We sat there and sweated. The conversation escapes me now, but I was certainly much more absorbed by it than I was with Nice (boy for nice girl).
But then Lucifer, being the Italian devil that he was, touched my nose.
I lost my balance. Was this a date?! Or was this Italian for “You smell nice?”. I’m not trying to compliment Le Grand Nez of the perfume I was wearing that day, but a few minutes later he leaned forwards to smell my neck.
Let me rewind a little. Earlier on, I had commented, innocently, promise, on his perfume. It wasn’t his. It was Botticelli’s. I love that scent and I often find myself singling it out on the street. There is always someone wearing it…
So here I was being touched and smelled. How do I get myself in these situations? I did not have an ounce of hidden intention behind the gelato invitation, I smiled not to flirt but to facilitate social interaction, to show my interest and agreement in what he had to say, to show my pleasure in his company.
I’ve been told I smile too much. Too much. But then they try to correct it by saying it’s a good thing. It’s not a good thing. It gets my nose touched and my neck smelled.
I always arrive at the question: how can a woman be friendly to a man without giving him false signals? I’d sincerely appreciate a clear and direct answer. But I guess there isn’t any.
I didn’t speak Italian, I didn’t touch his nose back. But I might have over-complimented his hair. It really was the coolest hair I had ever seen. Maybe that’s Italian, though probably Mediterranean, for “I’m into you”.
We had lost track of time, I had to go home or else I’d be late to meet with Ambassador.
We decided to see each other on Sunday rather than September. Why wait to find out if we were really centuries apart? Ambassador had called earlier that day to confirm our date at 18:00 at “Les Esplanades”. I knew from the sound of his voice that it was going to be a my-kind-of-a-date.
Hence, I had to rush my time with Lucifer. He insisted on inviting me, I eventually obliged. Having no change didn’t help either.
We took the lift back to the world below. And as we were walking towards the main hall, we got caught up in a crowd, I turned towards him, he looked at me and we kissed. Visitors and parents with kids walked by us while we acted out a scene fit for none other than a commercial for “Find your true love in Paris”. It was so bad a cliché that it was good, as good as a performance piece meters away from the famous piazza that attracts thousands of artists yearly.
But we weren’t artists, we were Ceasars of the moment.
For his size, he was quite strong. He kept on highlighting this strength, perhaps to compensate for his short stature, either by lifting me up in the air or by squeezing all the air out of me. It had its charm.
We walked/ran all the way back to mine, with intermittent pauses to catch our breaths and hydrate one another. By the time we reached, we could smell beyond our perfumes. Pure pheromones and sun juice.
“When do you return?”
“In a couple of weeks.”
“Will I see you again?”
“We’ll keep in touch.”
Even though I had carelessly welcomed this break from lipstinence, I wasn’t sure I would welcome it again. I thought I’d leave it to the future.
We said goodbye and I ran upstairs to freshen up for official date one, unofficial date two.
“Looks like I’ll be a little late, will try and be there 18:20”
“I took along precautionary reading material. Reflex of experience. A.”