Imagine this . . .
It’s a normal Wednesday afternoon. You haven’t done much today except run a few errands (you’re really starting to like this laid back style of French living) and decide to swing by your favorite cafe to grab a coffee.
The man who works there is your honorary friend by now. The two of you don’t say much other than everyday pleasantries, but you like him because he doesn’t switch when you reply in your heavy accent. You order an espresso and he brings it out a few minutes later. You’ve gotten used to the form of French coffee, smaller and stronger, but you still crave a 16 oz every now and then.
You look over, coffee at your lips, and spot him walking down the street. He’s not alone; French men like him never are. He’s dressed causally but could have easily stepped out after a photo shoot for a night on the town. He’s pretty, with high cheekbones that could cut glass and quaffed hair that definitely didn’t look like that when he woke up. He keeps running his fingers through it, as if making sure it’s still there.
Two stunning girls with hair flowing past their shoulders flank him on either side. He’s got an arm linked with the one wearing a sexy lace up sweater and skinny jeans. You think that they could be dating, but the French are very touchy, so you don’t really have a clue. As if to make your point, one of the other boys in the group throws an arm around his friend’s neck. The friend grabs him by the waist and they walk away like that.
Thirty minutes later (your espresso has been gone for twenty five), you pay and grab your stuff. Even though it’s only 4 in the afternoon, the sun is starting to set and you shiver in your jacket. You put in your headphones and stroll lazily along the cobblestone streets, headed home, but taking your sweet time.
Unlike the last man you saw while sipping your coffee, he’s dressed as if he’s about to go to soccer practice: tight fitting grey and black sweats, a matching track jacket, and bright tennis shoes with a green leaf on the heel. But the clothes aren’t faded by the throes of multiple washes, meaning he doesn’t actually wear them to practice any kind of sport. In fact, you notice that the shoes are white. Too white. He’ll usually have a cap with some kind of logo on it, though never facing the right way, and a sparkly stud in both ears. If he has a beard, it will always be trimmed and, although you can’t see it under the backwards hat, his hair is sleekly combed. He cares about his appearance and he wants you to know it. I mean, even his tracksuit matches his hat.
Even though he and his buddies seem to be doing nothing, you’ll realize that they have been watching you long before you pass them. He’ll smile at you with white teeth as blinding as those earrings and you’ll smile back politely. After you walk past, you hear something over your headphones, but you keep going.
Halfway home, you stop for bread at the boulangerie. The baker is young, with a large colorful tattoo on his forearm. You know he’s there – you were there last week – but now you’re determined to make a good impression. The doors slide open automatically and the smell of freshly baked bread hits you.
Suddenly, before you can even get out a bonjour, he starts yelling. You take out your headphones. He repeats what he said but, headphones or no headphones, you still have no idea what he’s going on about. You think maybe it’s a warning – he’s pointing at the doors. You smile nervously and say thank you but something on his face tells you that was not the appropriate response. But you still have to ask for your bread, even though all you want is to just curl up and disappear.
He grabs your bread with his bare hands and calls you madame as you leave, which, even after whatever you tell yourself, still makes you swoon.
You pass one last man while crossing the street, two delicious baguettes in your arms. He’s tall and dark, with the first two buttons of his collar stylishly popped, and suddenly you realize you’ve been staring as you make eye contact. You blush and look down at the ground. A long black coat whisks around his knees. That’s when you notice he’s wearing jeans.
You find yourself thinking, now where have you been all my life?
And with that thought, he’s gone.
You go home and eat your baguettes with some delicious tapenade noire and a glass of wine . . . or four.
*Not every man in France is the same, of course. However, next time you’re in town, keep an eye out for The Model Hipster, The Too-Cool Athlete Wannabe, The Failed Flirtation, and The Prince Charming in Jeans.
Seriously, no guy under the age of 35 wears jeans. Don’t those thin joggers get cold in the winter??