our last night in paris we were on the search for food in st. michel. with the enticement of a 12 euro daily special, we were whisked into a restaurant i’m not even sure had a name. it was kind of cave-ish inside, and there were murals of beaches on the walls, which were flanked by changing colored lights. classy! the tables were SO close together…. i was pretty positive we’d walked into a full blown tourist trap as we took our seats next to these two guys, who were probably already halfway through their meal. as we sat down, the guy kiddy corner from me looked up, so i gave him a weak, acknowledging smile. the waiter brought us our menus, and as i read it over, i could feel this dude just staring at me through my menu. things were about to get interesting.
we ordered, got our first course, and i started enjoying my onion soup, knowing full well that those two sets of eyes across the table would not stop looking at me. he finally swooped in on the opportunity to break the ice when rachael exhibited difficulty in getting the escargot meat out of the shells… i mean, the guy basically was trying to feed her. i was laughing at the whole thing, and once rachael had mastered it and he quit playing mama bird, i thanked him for the help, seeing how we’d demonstrated near complete inability to eat classy food.
well, me uttering these words just opened the door, and this guy now is not only staring, but bombarding me with questions, wanting to know my name, where i’m from, how old i am, the whole nine yards. in my broken french, i whipped out every phrase i’d learned. i told him we were here on vacation, i was american, i studied in spain, etc etc. he spoke a little bit of english, so he translated our conversation for his awkward buddy across the table next to me. they were clearly done with their meal when we had barely gotten our main course, so in order to buy some more time, the guys order drinks. and they just keep coming (both the drinks and the questions). i don’t even remember this guy’s name, but he made us guess how old he was, 24, and then just goes on to ask more questions, do more staring, and tell me how beautiful i am over and over in french… which i don’t understand, so every time he says it, i go, “what?” and he repeats, “you are so beautiful!” in english. he then proceeds to make weak attempts at buying me drinks, saying it is too bad we’re leaving the next day… and at this point i’ve been flattered enough, so i ask for the check, the waiter takes a group pic, and the guys leave. but i can tell they’re waiting.
i get rachael and diana in a huddle before we leave, and we devise a game plan of how to get out of the restaurant without being followed. as we walk out, i smile, wave, and the guy follows me, and then asks, “can i get a picture?” i can’t say no, so i agree, he wraps his hands all around me, his friend takes the picture, and then here comes the french kicker- out of the blue he goes, “now can i kiss you??” i was pretty much caught completely off guard, so i proceeded to laugh and tell him he could kiss me on the cheek… a chance that, obviously, he sprung at. and rachael caught it all on film… memory… iphone brain.
and that, folks, is why you should learn french, eat at dive-ish restaurants, not wash your hair for three days, and talk to strangers.