I first fell in love with Paris when I came there with my best friend in August 2008, the summer we somehow convinced our parents to let us to philander around the South of France under the pretense of “studying abroad.” We soon discovered the Côte d’Azur to be more of a Maxim Top 100 screening than the Fitzgerald-esque adventure we had anticipated. To liquidate all competition, we decided to flee to Paris, where I managed to find the one native (and biggest Dbag) left in the city that weekend. The rest is a sad story reserved for another time. However one good thing did come out of it: my newfound, unparalleled love for his native city.
Years later, as I contemplated The Grand Change, the choice of Paris seemed like a no-brainer. I would pursue a master’s degree, forget the ex, sharpen up my high-school French, and finally become the impossibly chic woman I had been meant to be all along. Eventually, I would meet a tall, dark-haired stranger who would follow me back to New York , lured by my seductive charm and the prospect of Green Card. To make matters easier, my other best friend had recently moved to Paris with her French husband (otherwise known as my husband-in-law*), making the idea of transporting my life four thousand miles away far less terrifying.
*Husband-in-law: a best friend’s husband; comes with most of the perks but none of the skid marks. Essential for any single girl.
In the first months after arriving to Paris, I felt like I was living a dream. Entranced by the beauty of the city, I Instagramed the shit out of every building, ignoring the fact that it hadn’t stopped raining since the day I had arrived. I bravely endured the bureaucratic inquisition that comes along with getting a bank account, apartment, or anything else necessary to function. I even managed to remain oblivious to the fact that the majority of my master’s degree class was not excessively fond of me, primarily due to certain American stereotypes they had been trained to despise.
Then, reality slowly started setting in. I realized that my paperwork challenges were merely evolving into unemployment challenges, and that the rain was taking on the form of snow. I also acknowledged that, no matter how many hours I spent editing PowerPoint presentations, my classmates’ hostility towards me would never completely fade. Finally, I realized that within months of living in the City of Love, I hadn’t been on a single date.
This is mainly due to one simple yet critical fact: the French don’t date. This is a phenomenon that you often hear about, yet do no fully comprehend until you permanently set foot on their soil. “What about the ridiculously sexy French guy I met on vacation?”, you may ask. Here is the answer: when you travel, you become the vacation version of you. This means that you generally stick to the following scenario: meet, kiss, hope for the best. Sometimes, a whirlwind romance begins and eventually fades. Very rarely, said romance evolves into something more serious.
Let’s just say the vacation mentality can easily apply to the entire concept of dating (and living) in France. However, it is very different from my Russian-American upbringing. The result is a phenomenal culture clash, as well as a series of utterly bizarre stories that leave my friends keeling over in a mixture of pity and mortification. The only person who can possibly rival me in the department is a fellow expat girlfriend of mine. We are the Lady Gaga and Miley of disastrous dating – incomparable, unique, and utterly unpredictable.
We are now also fully convinced that we are in the most fundamentally wrong place, yet too addicted to the patisseries, brasseries, and masochism of it all. En plus, we have some stories to tell. This is why we bring to you DBAG DATING, PARIS EDITION, dedicated to rendering some of the most brilliant horror tales from across the Atlantic.
SPOILER ALERT: stories will involve frozen carrots and dirty armpits. Viewer discretion advised.