The Meaning Of The Toothbrush (The LA Ex Part 2)

*BUZZ* “Maybe I can see you tonight?”

Mr LA was coming back from Ireland a night early… Of course I wanted to see him tonight, and what better way to practise his English than to be surrounded by a load of anglophones eating uncooked burgers down on Rue De Bretagne?!

An SOS drink with Gemma was needed to prep for meeting the friends… Because if it’s a casual thing, you don’t meet the friends, right? I found Gemma down in the eleventh district sipping tea in a trendy bar, she’d been stood up for the second time by a French Youtube rapper. Thirty minutes later Gemma was going to be wrapping her hands around my neck. “Just play it cool, and yeah, he wouldn’t be meeting all your friends if he wasn’t interested!”

I got Gemma to come along and we were the first ones there, Mr. LA walked in soon after and it was awkward dot com from that moment on. Everybody chin wagged and chatted away and Mr. LA looked as though he’s just arrived in West Hollywood with no 3G and a destination to go with no hope in hell of getting there. To ease his baffled face, I went in to British mother mode. You know that annoying tick where you ask somebody if they’re ok five hundred times in the span of twenty five minutes.

So now you look really awkward and I’m thinking of questions to say and I can’t think of anything so here we go. “Are you ok?” “Yes, yes, it’s just a little noisy.”…. “Are you ok?” …. “Yep” ….. “I’ve just spilt wine all over you, are you ok?” Oh no! Why is it that when you’re trying not to knock over wine glasses, the iconic clumsy hand slow motions toward the sky scraping glass and tips it in to the crotch of the man you’re trying to impress? Then to make things worse everyone looks at you with the eyes of, god… he must be so embarrassed… Including the Yorkshire terrier of your friend Lindsey. *Whines and tilts head*

“Are you ok?”, “YES, I just need another napkin.” Well, thought I’d just ask one last time… So this is when I would generally wish to have a trapdoor under my chair and just exit my existence.

On the way home I got told off for walking too quickly, as you do. Now, in France there are many rules about everything, the scroll goes on forever, and I’m sure that walking a certain speed at a certain hour is forbidden in chapter 679, verse 22.

I did the traditional victorian getting into bed routine, you know, where you try to get in to the covers whilst taking your clothes off at the same time without flashing any thigh. However, if somebody comes in mid undress, the traditional I’m just checking my messages on my phone sitting on the end of the bed, tangled in a t-shirt, must come in to action. “What are you doing?” , “Oh just replying to Willow… yes, because she has a phone, her French is better than mine you know.” *Cringe* “you’ll need a toothbrush from now on I suppose.” I paused for a moment, hang on a minute, meeting the friends, supplying me with a toothbrush… maybe things are progressing!

I wandered in to the bathroom to find Mr. LA unpacking a freebie plastic toothbrush from an airline… topless which made the moment more memorable. I’m sure there were women out there less excited about receiving engagement rings. So there the gladiator and the skeleton brushed their teeth in sync, and I placed it in prime position next to his. Now in England, this is pretty big stuff, we’re not huge fans of public affection, so we pick up on how the other is feeling through gestures. Toothbrush equals serious relationship, your own draw equals marriage soon, “I’ve taking up horse riding every weekend” equals I’m having an affair and will be looking for a divorce soon.

A few evenings later Mr. LA came to return my work phone which I had left there, probably in excitement of receiving my cheap and nasty toothbrush. He showed up at the door with a bag from the bakery. It was the time of year for Gallette Des Rois, (cake of the kings), the most dangerous dessert known to man! Now I was talking about the French rules earlier, but health and safety didn’t seem to be one of them. So the cake of the kings contains a small ornament, the person who ends up with this in their slice of cake wins the prize of becoming king and wearing a tacky cardboard crown, as well as the risk of loosing several teeth and potentially choking to death with a trip to A&E.

‘I was winning all the way at the moment’! I thought to myself, whilst I looked at my disturbed looking Russian doll with pieces of cake still stuck to her head. I let out a sigh “I need a holiday soon, to get away from Paris! I’m not sure whether to go to Amsterdam again, back to London for a trip…….. Orrrrrr Berlin!” So I knew already that Mr. LA was going to Berlin for work, and I was feeling kinda lucky at the moment. “Well, babe! I’m going to Berlin! Why don’t you come with me?” Ok so you just called me babe *rolls on the floor and dies* and you’ve invited me on holiday. “Sure!… Could be a good idea.”

A week later the tickets were booked and in a week’s time I was going on holiday with somebody that was just supposed to be a friend for a night out, that turned into casual evenings, which now seemed to be turning into more serious behaviour. Was this it, had I finally developed something that happened when I wasn’t looking for it, I suppose I was about to find out on a weekend away, to Berlin…

The LA Ex. (Part 1)

“Ohh Charlie Boy… Just don’t get attached, whatever you do!” Gemma looked at me with wide eyes… So much so, I thought we’d be searching around for them on the floor later. There we sat in our local bar, where we were known for being British, drinking the bar dry, ordering cheesecake when the kitchen had closed and falling out the door telling each other that we loved each other at two AM in the morning.

Gemma was the woman that I wanted to be… If I was a woman that is… Beautiful in every way, amazing figure, one of those apartments that looks like it should be in the New York Times, and just generally hilarious. I met Gemma at her apartment where she held a brunch one Sunday over a year ago… Well brunch that was supposed to last a few hours turned into everyone else going home, Gemma and I going out to bars until lord knows what time in the morning, and waking up on the sofas with all the lights on at her apartment at nine AM. It was safe to say that we knew we would get on well from that day on… She was late for work and I vowed never to drink again…

“But I just don’t get it, it’s been a week now!?” *Phone buzzes* “Oh my god it’s him!” I said leaping off the stool nearly crashing to the ground. Actually there is another story to be told about this particular bar and its’ stools, but I’ll save that for… Yet-another rainy day. (Always raining here!) “Charles, it’s 1:00AM, NO! You know what it means! Leave it until tomorrow.” Annoyingly I knew she was right, Mr. LA was putting on the booty call moves.

*Willow taps me on the shoulder* “WHAT?… oh yeah… They don’t know who Mr. LA is…” Let’s travel back in time a week before. “MEEEOOOOWWW!”, “Alright! We didn’t go that fast, stop being so dramatic Willow!” *Willow passes a Parisienne look of disgust and curls up in bed*

It’s Saturday night and there I am sitting in my apartment, all dressed up and nowhere to go, yes, my life is like the ugly version of Cinderella. I had arranged to go on a date to watch a horror movie and the guy had cancelled at 9:30PM. Determined to take the half of bottle of perfume I’d slathered on for a night out on the town, I took to the net to find a friend to go out with. A guy popped up, he was free, didn’t have much to talk about with his one word messages, but he was heading out into town for a night out, so I thought, why not!?

With that, we were meeting up in thirty minutes time. There I stood outside Mc Donald’s feeling extremely classy and extremely like ‘why did I come out, I want to go to bed now!’ Oh my ever chopping and changing mind. A dark featured character walked up to me with salt and pepper hair, deep brown eyes and a beard. I wasn’t overly attracted to him (not that I was supposed to be, this was an S.O.S night out) but it would be good to practise my French and have a few drinks. In this jolly Irish bar where people had no concept of personal space, we sat and took two pints. Ok, so me and pints… I can hardly lift them. “Excuse me can I have a straw please, or a greek god dressed in a toga to hold it to my lips every few minutes?”… “What’s that? You’ve got neither? Just a packet of your finest marmite crisps then if you don’t mind.”…

Off came his coat and the god like torso was revealed. “Excuse me, you were wrong, there are gods in here! That’s right barman, I’ll be putting you in your place.” As I tried to divert my eyes and focus on the Guinness plaque behind his head we started to chat about the usual rubbish. I was super excited until he came out with the words, “I’m moving to LA in April!” which he belted out with excitement. “Ohhhhhh that’s… Amazing! You must be… excited.” And just so you know I’ve never been so disappointed!

Drinks turned into his phone being stolen and we ended up back at his place to look for his phone… in candlelight. Because it’s really easy to find things in a dark room with candles in the middle of the night. He’d arranged to meet some friends in a traditional seedy gay club in the Marais. I wasn’t a fan of these places, but I was the tag along for the evening, so I didn’t really have much say on the night’s exciting plans. Apparently these friends didn’t exist, well one did, but he stayed for five minutes and then left. There we stood in ‘this night couldn’t get any gayer’ bopping around in the corner of the dance floor with the speakers giving it their best shot in bursting my eardrums. Suddenly Mr. LA took off his top, because that’s what you do in the middle of winter in public places…

It turns out we were in the middle of Mr. LA’s weekly ego boost routine. Because nobody would dream of spending so much time running on machines and lifting pieces of metal unless they were giving the world full display of their achievements every week. I had to admit, I was appreciating it, and as the talking got closer and closer in to my ear lobe I was figuring out what his game was. “I like skinny guys.” he said with his gladiator hand around my waist. “Well… People tell me I’m skinny all the time!” Oh shut up Charles…

Three hours of Scooby Doo knee drops later (no wonder I have a bad knee that clicks all the time) and we were back with the candles, laying on the sofa, with Birdy tweeting out ‘People help the people’. After the sixth time of it being on repeat, I was ready to shoot the Birdy and hit the pillow.

The light peered through the curtains. This wasn’t supposed to happen… He rolled over and said the most magical words that everyone dies to hear on a Sunday morning. “Do you want a coffee?…” Handsome, says all the right things. I flew out of bed to animate my reply. There he stood in the kitchen making coffee as I looked at the IKEA cupboard door in true British awkwardness not knowing where to look. He resembled a photo that I remember well from my youth, my mum went to see the Chippendales  in the early nineties and had taken a souvenir photo. But there was one thing about the photo that spoilt the dream of the hunky men which was her in the middle, so overly excited, that she was pulling a face that only resembled Dracula at a blood donor’s clinic…

Here it was in real life without mother pulling a face… I left my card and the door closed. As I wandered back home, I felt a bit disappointed with myself. Would I see him again? ‘Charles he’s moving to LA!’ but no matter how much I told myself that, I was dying to see him again.

“Anyway, that’s your bit of cheesecake! I’m on a diet! But your worth more than this Charles! I don’t like the sound of him.” I wish I shared Gemma’s air of caution. “Let’s get the bill! I’m ‘a’ tired!” I said with my eye bags down to my knees.

I’m sure I would see him again, wouldn’t I? *CRASH!* “WILLOW!!!!!!!” An avalanche of unread books fell to the floor. Right, I’d better clear this all up, but I’ll tell you more about this another day… Until then!

The Wine Trader

“I’m a wine trader, and I have a small vineyard in the south.” He casually said. “Well, that’s amazing!… I LOVE WINE!”…. Oh god, not one of my most witty responses, but I felt like it came from the heart as I sat on my sofa evaporating a bottle of Sancerre. *Willow shaking her head into her paws*.

It was a Saturday night, and I met my thirty something red haired, German girlfriend, Kristin, on the east side of town, for a Cambodian getaway, i.e, a bar with salsa music, complimentary olives and staff that could speak neither English nor French. “I like it here… Feels like we’re not in Paris!” Kristin said, I was in mutual agreement with her until somebody opened the door and the ice age harassed the very skin on my back. “Why are the wine glasses like shot glasses here?! Oh I miss the days in England where you basically get a pint in a glass for £2.00.” Obviously I think I’m at the hight of the class structure… Kristin piped up and said to the barman “Un vin blanc à l’Anglais.” (A white wine, English style!) The waiter brought over a huge glass of wine, I should obviously be getting out that one liner a bit more often! So basically Paris turned me into a wino, well, not that I wasn’t a huge fan before in the London days… But the date with the wine trader just didn’t measure up… Literally…

Let’s go back to Monday! There I was (here we go again, another cliché, buckets ready please) trotting down the street giving it the odd leap on and off the pavement move, you know when you’re pretending to look as if you’re in a hurry, but you’re actually an hour early, and running is for five year olds or for people who are late for trains. No… Just me that does that, again…

I gave it a last leap out of the metro (blimey, anyone would think I’ve turned into a frog… Say nothing) in to the Saint Germain Des Pres district. There I stood waiting  and apparently my date had already arrived, a foot below my eyesight…

“Ohhhhh hey hi, hey, oh you’ve been waiting here!” I said awkwardly whilst swaying from side to side in-between words. Well this was not what the photos portrayed but, ok, let’s go with it. We found this French restaurant that was completely empty and remained completely empty for the entire meal.

“You look very nice this evening, I like your clothes.” Well done there sir across the table, one hundred points for you. “Your jewellery is nice, where’s it from?” another hundred points for you, need to be taking note of these, nobody normally does this well! He went on to tell me about how the wine is made, the best year, the this, the that, the Zzzzzzzzzzz……. *Snorts and arrises from the forehead facedown on the table* Lord, where were we, oh yeah! So the waitress/CEO/chef comes over to take our order and I thought obviously he should choose the wine, you know, being the expert and all…

*GASP* “It’s SO expensive, 23€ for a bottle of wine, oh well-we’ll just get the cheapest one then because there’s no difference really, has to be regulated or you can’t sell it so there’s no such thing as bad wine.”

……. FIVE MILLION points… lost… from… you…

The only place to look was the table cloth. I could overlook quite a few things in a potential partner, but I knew that a Mr. Talk About The Price Of Everything and I would not get on. It turns out he was a Mr. Suburbs as well as a Mr. I Eat Like The Cookie Monster too.

When the meal finished we walked through the beautiful Latin Quarter, and with my five AM start the next day I was ready for bedy-bed-bed! He looked up at me and muttered, “so… what’s the plan now?” I pretended not to hear and threw a sarcastic eye bulging look to the sky as if it were to miraculously beam me up and take me home. Knowing my luck I’d end up on a date with a martian who complained about the price of petrol to take me home… Erm, where did that come from? I digress. He took another shot at the question “What are we doing now?”

“Right, I’m going home and you’re going home, that’s what we’re doing now.” I ruled. He said he wasn’t sure as there are “cultural differences” and “I’m English ‘n’ all”. Thats the thing, well one of the main things I found in Paris. You had to be taken for a test drive in the bedroom on the first night, as we all know that sex is what a long lasting and loving relationship is based on, right? Well, I don’t think so. You’d be marched up six flights of stairs to the top floor of some ancient apartment block, given some left over wine that had been sitting in the fridge after being used for a risotto they made two months ago and talk about idle things like. “Oh look, the Eiffel Tower’s stopped sparkling!…..” or “What shade of grey is that paint exactly? I feel like I’ve been watching it dry for the past hour… I mean, having a great time!”…. Convincing. After that, the legendary hand on the back of the head would take its place and you’d be taken for a lap around the bed sheets for the night, and let’s not forget about the legendary walk of shame to the nearest Starbucks the next morning.

Generally a week would pass, where I’m sure other people were being interviewed for the position… In several different positions. Never to hear from them again. Paris tried to put notches on your bedpost, and if you really let it, your bed would look like it had a serious case of woodworm after a few months.

Another bar later and “Right are you coming or staying, I need to go home… I’m drunk!” Kristin said as she slammed into somebody. Haha oh she does make me laugh! Right I better see that she gets across the road ok! Until next week!

“WAIT!…. I’m coming!”

A Porn Star For A Partner…

Stiff upper lip, that’s right, I don’t wish to be seeing anything stiff outside of the bedroom thank you very much. Ohh so British… I was beginning to think if I would never fit in around here with my mindset from the 1920’s. Queen Victoria wouldn’t have allowed any getting out of the thighs, even in summer time! So yes, I’m in trousers and a scarf during the summer, I’m convinced the Eau De Parfum pollutes the surrounding air more because of it.

Whilst trawling the internet, I received a message by what could only be described as god. You know those ones that you see in paintings in decedent art galleries when you’re on holiday, pretending to look interested whilst the person you’re with tells you the one hundred and one facts about each and every piece that you’re not in the slightest bit interested in. “Oh that’s interesting! mmmm hmmm, yeah I’ve heard of that before!” … “Oh really what did you think of his other works?” … “Erm …… loved them especially the…….. the erm…… Tell you what, I’m dying for a coffee, is there a Starbucks close by?” Oh we all do it, don’t we?

Anyway, so god presented himself in my inbox and I thought, ‘well, why not, this could be my experiment to see if somebody that hot would be interested in dating somebody like me, only to be closely described as looking like Big Bird off Sesame St.

Coffee was arranged and I headed into the Marais for 2:30PM. The café I chose was a bit rustic and trendy so I thought I would win some brownie points there. “I don’t like the decoration in here, I hate green!” Oh ok, maybe not then…

As god got down from his chariot (his two seater scooter) he walked up to me and cracked a smile, obviously he was imagining big bird. We went in and got sat next to the bin, this was not the chic idea that I had planned but oh well, I didn’t mind inhaling people’s compost of unwanted food, not when I was sitting across from that! And anyway I’d put so much perfume on that I’m sure I was fighting off the fumes.

He started to tell me about his day job, and then as I politely replied with a typical “oh how wonderful” answer, he abruptly interrupted me. “OH MY GOD! You’re sooo posh! You’re like ‘ohhhhhhh how wonderful’, you sound like the queen.” Southern roots I hate you right now! I thought to myself, and I tried to tone down the Margaret Thatcher in me.

He told me he was a go-go dancer, and danced the night away in bars across Europe. “Oh… great… So, do you have to rehearse or anything?” My list of questions I had planned in my head were suddenly thrown off. Maybe this man was far too liberal for me. Scooby Doo knee drops were off the cards I think when it came to go-go dancing.

“I also do porn!”, I struggled not choke on the actual coffee cup, let alone the coffee. Now the last time this had happened to me I was sixteen and I travelled to Cambridge to go on a date, he was also a porn star, we had a night at Pizza Express and the night ended there.

*Sarcastic look* “So you find pleasure in your job then?” I asked with genuine interest. “Nah, not really… It takes around three to five hours to film, it’s just a job really.” THREE TO FIVE HOURS! I’m fed up after three to five minutes, and then I’m dying for a Horlics and to check Facebook, I mean, to read an intellectual book.

He went on to tell me all the nitty gritty and literally the ins and outs of every job he’s done. Don’t be rude! I mean working contract! As he was delving in to a large jar of Haribo at the bar, he was continuing to tell his graphic life whilst trying to feed me Haribo at the bar. “Thanks I’m fine… I don’t eat sweets after five, oh its three fifteen I feel like I’ve been listening to this for years…..”

*Continuous hand on the shoulder!* Oh no this will not be happening! So I ordered the bill and we returned to his chariot outside. “You’re so pure, you’re not shocked he said?” I was, I’d learnt more in the past hour than I had in the past twenty seven years! “No, nothing shocks me much these days!” Obviously I’ve led a very sheltered life!

As he sat on his scooter looking at me, he demanded the ever awkward question “So what are we doing now?” …. “Well, I’m going to go for a walk… You’re welcome to join, but if you have things to do that’s perfectly fine!” So along he came and moaned continuously about the speed people walk these days, for around ten minutes and then suddenly said: “Oh, I need to go home and shave my legs for tonight!” And with that off he went.

Shave my legs for tonight?….. I can’t be having somebody seven times the size of me holding up the bathroom for hours on end whilst I’m hop-scotching a wee-wee dance up and down the hall.

Thankfully my friend Gemma was just finishing up a date too, and was around the lower Marais for a low down. Wine and whines were certainly needed.

The Paris Love-Hate Relationship!

Ahh, the Paris love-hate relationship, well, at least I’ve managed to keep this one going for almost four years now. We argue, and sometimes I think about leaving, but I’ve worked at it for so long now and it’s made the good times SO good, and the bad times get easier. These are the usual conversations I have with myself whilst crossing the road at Rue De Rivoli to head into the Marais.

“Bonjour! Oui, can I get a large coffee to go and a slice of how the hell one dates in this city?”……”Oh, sold out of that one? Just the life threatening amount of caffeine then please.” Sorry I forgot to introduce myself, I’m Charles, a guy who’s seeing thirty approaching quicker than the TGV (French high speed train) from Paris to Marseille. I ditched my ex boyfriend, London, four years ago to come and have a love affair with Paris, literally descending the Eurostar in, yep you guessed it a stripy t-shirt, not into clichés much at all!

To be honest, the love affairs have been few and far between, well usually ending in a disastrous weekends away, arguing about why we can’t find amazing French food in The Netherlands… I rest my case… However, there have been many odd encounters with stories one could never make up when it came to finding that perfect Parisian partner.

A series of serial dating started and instead of turning up expecting to sign a marriage certificate, I began to think about what the next odd trait these men would have, I was always surprised and it actually started to become a hobby. Friends have always been telling me that I should start writing about it, so finally with the time and sufficient boredom levels that came with the winter of 2015 in Paris, I thought I would start!

*Meow*, Oh, this is Willow, I would like to blame any typos on her in advance as she often monkey bars her way from the clothes horse onto the top of the computer. Willow is my ten month old cat. She’s grey with yellow eyes, and her personality is pretty grey too. She seems to love me, apart from when I touch her when she’s laying in her favourite place, on the shelf above the heater… Then things get violent. But with everyone else that comes to visit, she never seems overjoyed in the slightest. Yes, Willow has acquired the exciting life that every cat dreams of… Listening to some gay guy droning on about yet another bad date whilst struggling to untie his laces after yet another gallon of wine. How she hasn’t hung herself from the shower rod by now, I do not know.

Despite obvious cultural differences that made things more difficult, yes my French is still not very good, but I try… Sometimes, I’m quite old fashioned as well! My apartment is eighteen square metres, full of twee British trinkets that your Nan used to collect. Things like books I’ve never read, and have no intention on reading, I just think they look good. A teddy mouse called Sharon who takes throne on a twee armchair… Without any arms, and a cushion my sister bought me with a bicycle on it.

My idea of romance was going for a quiet dinner in Saint Germain Des Prés whilst nodding and listening to the significant other about their day at the office, where really I’m calculating in my mind if I’ll be able to pay my half of the meal… “So I’ve just been fired…”, “mmmm hhhmm that’s great news, but no more booze tonight to celebrate *snorts* you’ve got work in the morning!” Ohhh dear.

Instead Mr Romantic, well, that’s what HE called himself, had me standing in a gay bar with a speaker rapidly abusing my eardrum, whilst he danced topless flexing his muscles, and bean pole me went for the iconic Scooby Doo knee drop dance move. You know! The only dance move they had in Scooby Doo because it would have been too much additional animation to add another in. But honestly, it works for every beat, that’s it, tried and tested by me… Fully clothed of course, have to keep what little dignity I have left.

As much as I love Paris now, the first year or two was certainly a challenge. But it’s very charming and there’s something that even stops you from venturing into the suburbs. Yes I can’t date a man that doesn’t has a Paris 75 post code.

It’s like another world, full of characters and everyday opens up a new chapter. After three and a half years of getting in to this steady and stable relationship, I thought it was time to get steady and stable with one of it’s residents.

So if you don’t mind, I have a lunch date to get ready for.

Until next time!