An American in Paris

I can't tell you how great it's been having Drew here. The kid is fearless, so open to new experiences, so unconscious of unwritten social rules... in short he is very American and it's been refreshing. He managed to become best friends with Martin and Martine (Incidentally, Drew has informed me that Martine's name is actually Anne-Sophie... A fact of which I had been unaware because I had never bothered to ask [However I will continue to refer to her as Martine... because it is shorter.]).

I don't know how he did it, all I know is that when I woke up one morning earlier this week my bed mate was missing. I found him in the living room telling stories to Martin and Martine, who both seemed enthralled. And he doesn't speak French, can't even count to dix. He was speaking in English and Martine was translating. I toasted some bread but I didn't say anything, didn't want to interrupt. Then he started telling stories about me. Almost like a list of every good thing he could remember about me. How I had met this one famous person this one time, and how I had scored in the 99th percentile on some postgrad studies aptitude test, and how they needed to see me dance sometime because it was, in his words "out of this world". All those things that just didn't matter anymore but are nice to hear every now and then to remind you what you've been doing for the last 25 years... even if none of it ever amounted to anything.

The last few days we have spent just hanging out. I finally feel like a tourist. We have been sight seeing, talking loudly on the metro, eating in public places, and other American activities. The weather has been decent but maybe I'm just used to it because Drew has been freezing. We spent a day indoors at various museums. Drew somehow managed to meet a girl from Dubai and another from India... and another from Singapore. He has an uncanny ability to spot girls that speak English. We took the girl from Dubai, whose name escapes me, to get a kebab, which Drew has dubbed the European equivalent of the burrito, and Drew made plans to visit her after his stay in Europe.

Another day was dedicated to thrift store shopping in the Marais. Drew bought an old Swiss military coat at Free'p'star, a thrift store on Rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie. The fact that it was literally a Swiss Army coat was a major selling point for him. Then we went and got falafels at l'As du Fallafel on the Rue des Rosiers. Behind us in line was Ethan Hawk. Yeah... pretty crazy right? Well, we're pretty sure it was him, it could have been Mark McGrath but he was pushing a stroller with a kid in it. It also could have just been some guy that looked exactly like Ethan Hawke/Mark McGrath but wasn't even famous at all. We never found out for sure because I talked Drew out of approaching him, I'm sure Mr. Hawke didn't come all the way to Paris so that more Americans could ask him for Mark McGrath's autograph. Just let the guy buy a falafel is what I always say.

Today was Sunday. Drew wanted to go to church again but told me I didn't have to come if I didn't want to. Of course, in practice, he can't really find his way around the city... so for the second Sunday in a row I found myself dressed in a shirt and tie, falling asleep in the back of a small chapel in the 4th Arrondissement. After church, Nico, the Finnish/Spanish kid invited us to a gathering for the church singles at his apartment that night. He speaks English perfectly... with a rather interesting accent. As he and Drew were exchanging information, I was finding a reason to start attending church again.

Me: Who is that?

Nico: Amazing isn't she? That's my girlfriend.

Kyle: Really?

Nico: No. That's Aurelie. She is really cool but... she's French and she's a model. And she knows it, you know?

Me: She knows she's French, or she knows she's a model?

Kyle: Is she pretty stuck up?

Nico: I don't know man. She is nice. You just have to talk to her yourself... If you ever get a chance.

We never got the chance. By the time we had finished discussing her she had completely disappeared.

Nico's apartment is on the Rue St. Antoine between the metro stops Bastille and St. Paul. When we arrived later that night we couldn't get a hold of Nico. He hadn't bothered to give us the door code so we had nothing to do other than to wait for him to call us back. Across the street from Nico's place is a small square with a park called the Place de Vosges, it's where Victor Hugo lived... when he was alive. We thought we would go check it out while we waited.

It was locked.

Drew was hungry so we decided to try Nico's again. But at that momen, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today) crossed the street directly in front of us with two other women. She was holding a baguette. I could hear them speaking English but couldn't make out what they were talking about.

Me: Oh dear, the women in this city...

Drew: Right now I'm more interested in where she got that baguette.

Me: Just ask her, she speaks English.

      At that moment she stopped. And turned. And...

The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today): What?

Me: Oh um... Nothing... My friend was just wondering where you got your baguette.

The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today): It's from a boulangerie just up here around the corner. But I think they are closed now.

Me: You're American?

The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today): Colombian... But I live in Nashville. Well, I live in Paris, but my family lives in Nashville.

After that was all cleared up, we introduced ourselves. Her name is Anna and she is doing a year of her college in Paris. We also met her sister and her mom... who's names escape me. They were each dragging large zebra pattern suitcases behind them. They had been on their way out of town when a volcano erupted in Iceland and grounded flights across all of western Europe. The skies are clear here in Paris but I guess the airlines are just playing it safe. Better to inconvenience someone than to kill them. So now Anna's family is stuck here sans hotel, draging their zebra print luggage across the city to Anna's tiny apartment where they will wait for the ash to settle. Anna offered to show us where the boulangerie was and we walked with them for a couple blocks. Drew spoke to her mom in Spanish and Anna spoke to me in French. Well, partly in French. She asked me if I lived in the banlieue and I asked her what that word meant. 

After that was all cleared up she asked me what had brought me to the city.

Me: I have no idea. It changes daily.

Anna: Well, at least you're honest. The boulangerie is there just down that street, it might still be open.

Me: Thanks...

Anna: Are we going to see each other again?

Me: Probably not. But it was nice meeting you.

I gave her a bisous and we parted ways. The boulangerie was closed and Drew immediately started complaining about his hunger. I called Nico again, still no answer. Not being used to close encounters with beautiful women, I was still shaking from my moment with Anna. As I replayed it in my mind it occurred to me that maybe she was trying to give me with an opportunity. Maybe "Are we going to see each other again" hadn't merely been a matter of fact question requiring a matter of fact response. Maybe she was getting at something... Maybe, she had actually wanted to see me again.

Me: I should have gotten her number?

Drew: You didn't? What were you doing up there the whole time? What kind of vibe was she putting out?

Me: She asked if we were going to see each other again...

Drew: And then you didn't say "Yes, what is your number"? Yeah, you blew it.


Drew: Well, we should probably chase after her.

Me: I don't think that's the best idea.

Drew: Willim, this is Paris.

And with that he took off running. I followed. At the next cross street we turned and saw zebra print in the distance. Drew bolted across the intersection like a lion, he ran after the zebra print shouting "Senioritas". I followed behind like a much, much slower lion. When I finally caught up with Drew he was speaking with Anna, her sister, and her mother in Spanish. One of the zebras was on the ground with it's insides spilled all over the sidewalk. I thought Drew had been taking my lion metaphor a bit too far but apparently they were just searching for a pen. Once the pen had been located, Anna needed something to write on. I offered my metro map.

Anna: I'm going to give you my email.

Me: I am kind of embarrassed right now.

Anna: Don't be. It's hilarious. Like An American in Paris.

Me: Is that a book or something?

Anna: Movie.

Me: Haven't seen it.

My phone rang. It was Nico. I answered and told him we were just down the street and we'd be there in a second. Anna returned my metro map. I told her I would email her. Her mother suggested that we all go to dinner while they were in town. We parted ways for a second time. I was high on adrenaline as we made our way back to Nico's. Anna, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life (today) gave me her email address. I am going to see her again... if it's a legitimate email address...

I can't help but wonder where this might lead. It's like they say, the gate of history turns on small hinges.



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