Reversal of Fortune
So my Frenchman, we shall give him the name Henri (and no, it is not his real name), we sit, we smoke, we have our kir. With my job and with my training, dexterity with language comes easily. Yet I could, in French, barely put together a sentence, and following even the simplest of statements required effort and patience and a lot of repetition. Every time I wanted to say something, I had to think first if I could say it and even if I could say it, was it worth the investment of time and effort. And the answer to those two questions was often no.
So Henri asks me if I am hungry and if I want dinner. So I say yes thinking that we are going to a restaurant. Ah yes, I didn't bother to ask you see because it was just too much effort. So I follow him down some streets until we come to an apartment building door.
And here is where a normal person would have said "No."
But I am not a normal person. I've come this far, and strangely, I have great faith in my instincts.
I follow him inside the very dark foyer, through the door to the inside courtyard. I follow him the very cramped creaking spiral staircase. He opens the door.... the largest most sparkling new bathroom. It is larger than the kitchen in my apartment. It has a bath and shower, separate. It is huge. I start to laugh. He laughs with me.
He begins to show me around the apartment. The bathroom, the kitchen, the study, the "salon" complete with grand piano, a bedroom with a four poster bed iron work on the ceiling AND a chandelier, a dining room with a chandelier, and another smaller bedroom. All of the rooms had the floor to ceiling windows with shudders.
My very stunned New York ass sat on the couch while Henri got us another round of kir and some crackers. He turned on the TV for me ( not that I could understand anything) while he fetched refreshments from the kitchen.
I was expecting him to tear my clothes off. But, instead, he brought me pictures, photographs of his home in Normandy, his brother, his parents, his friends. And I had a moment of realizing despite my basic inability to communicate with him verbally Henri actually liked me; it was not just French lust.
I, on the other hand, had conquest on the mind.
Eventually, having run out of pictures and our vocabulary being too limited to converse for very long, he began to kiss me. And then he led me into the bedroom with the iron work and the chandelier. I sat on the bed. It was a scene right out of the Money Pit, the bed creaked and the mattress sank practically to the floor. I started laughing again, but not for very long. I found myself stripped on that bed, staring at the iron work roses in the corner, going "What am I doing?"
Mauvaise Lapin
Caffeinatrix had told me before I went to Paris "Fuck the first attractive guy. It's like an impulse buy. You need that initial rush, that surge of accomplishment, and then become selective." Henri was quite a stroke of impulsive luck. We did not fuck on that bed. No, I've been around long enough to know. It did not have the rush towards quick satisfaction, the purely bestial instinctive quality. It was a long and drawn out, almost torturous, process of pushing each other to the limits of delayed gratification.
The mattress very early on was taken off of the frame and put on the floor so as not to break the springs. Up until this point I thought that sex was a thing that would be best without language. That a lack of language would make it more pure. But Henri kept talking to me. And there was frustration on my part that often I only understood part of what he was saying. Although there was also the suspicion that the only reason I liked him so much was because I couldn't understand most of what he was saying.
What I did understand was when he told me that he loved my body, my taste, my breasts, the feel of my mouth. And many times that he night he told me he loved me, something I dismissed as an in the moment profession, although later I would reconsider. He told me that I made love well. I have now receive the official Parisian "quality piece of ass" approval.
A Brief Confession
I have never had sex in a foreign country. I have come close. I showered with a guy in Edinburgh once. I passionately kissed a guy in Mexico. But I didn't go all the way until France.
It was something out of a movie. We made love for a few hours and then we would stop and have kir. I would look out the window at the street. I would hear conversation from the street come up and wonder if those people heard me, crying out earlier, with such clarity. There were the mopeds and the signature siren of "les flics" (the cops). We would smoke. He had three packs of marlboroughs on the coffee table. The French smoke like it is a second job. Then we would make love again.
My first night Paris I didn't go back to my hotel room. I fell asleep with Henri curled around me the windows open with the night air cooling us.
In the morning, he took me again. The same long gentle process. Finally we had coffee in the kitchen the Parisian way: in bowls with milk. I had two bowls of coffee. He wanted me again. Eventually I shower.
Henri, contrary to much of what I had heard, was not only clean, but he smelled wonderful. Considering what I discovered about the lack of decent, or even vaguely effective deodorant in Paris, this is quite an accomplishment. The lack of cleanliness in most Parisians is most likely because apartments often do not HAVE a shower. It is a shower for the floor, often a single shower for that floor of the apartment building. Henri having the luxury of a privately owned shower and bath took advantage of it.
We leave the apartment go to a cafe where we stand at the bar and smoke and drink, of all things, fermented cider from Normandy. I realize that I have somehow found the Parisian version of Rohr's.
more to come...

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