Something wild happened the other weekend: a man flew across the Atlantic to see me. (Actually, this is the second said oddity has occurred – I believe Air France owes me miles.)
I met this particular fellow (James? John? Any boring name will suffice) at a beach party at Art Basel a few days after my 27th birthday. James-John was a tall, awkward-looking redhead who piqued my interest with a mention of a Yale degree and penchant for World War I. (I admit to having an Ivy League fetish – somebody needs to balance out all these street smarts!) He lived in Dumbo, knew James Franco from his Yale days and ran his own successful advertising firm – a classic Revenge of the Nerds scenario if there ever was one. After a fantastic beach dance-off, he told me that he was planning on going to Rome in January and would try to visit me in Paris on his way there.
Over the course of the next month, JJ and I exchanged a total of four awkward emails, one of which included a picture of his newborn nephew. (Weird. But kind of sweet.) A week after New Years, he announced that he had booked a ticket to Paris and was coming to see me at the end of January. I was rather impressed: no texts, no phone calls, no FaceTime – just a few emails and the man was already taking action! This could be a Manicorn situation right here!
I have to admit that I was nervous. After all, it is not every day that a guy comes to see you from across the Atlantic, so I felt somewhat responsible for ensuring that he has a good time. I made a mental plan to show him the city in an expedited-yet-insider way, starting with dinner at Anahi in my local Marais.
That evening, I found JJ to be exactly the way I remembered him – a nondescript ginger completely outside of mu usual type, yet smart and interesting enough to potentially overshadow it. We had a lovely time catching up over Argentinian steak and wine and talking about everything and nothing, until the owners finally kicked us out at 2 am.
The trouble started afterwards, when we headed to Silencio for a Men’s Fashion Week afterparty. The doorman, a familiar face at this point, took one quick look at JJ and moved on to the next contender. While I didn’t care much about my date’s affirmed lack of cool, it certainly made the rest of the night challenging. Due to a lack of taxis, we ended up in a cheesy football in the middle of Etienne Marcel, where JJ happily bonded with fellow Anglophones while my snobby ass sullenly sipped on bad wine.
On our way back to Marais, JJ surprised me by professing his budding love, telling me that he hoped it would work out between us – “if not this month, then this year”. He followed this by a request to sleep over and “hold me”, which I politely declined. Visibly irritated, he headed to his hotel, agreeing to meet me for breakfast around noon the next day.
The next day came, noon came, yet JJ still hadn’t responded to any of my texts or calls. Around 4 pm, I began to get worried – had the cab driver kidnapped him on the way home?
At 4:30PM I called his hotel and had the front desk connect me to his room, a harmless move that seemed to take a drunk-sounding JJ by surprise. Fifteen minutes later he emerged in his hotel lobby, looking like he had been run over by a truck. His hair was a mess, his eyes were bloodshot, and he could hardly walk straight. The situation quickly escalated when my hungover ginger bull entered Île Saint-Louis, a choice destination for elderly folks whom he did seem to notice. I quickly got the menace to society off the streets and into the comfort of a restaurant, where JJ disclosed the truth behind his bizarre behavior. It turned out that he had “randomly” met a group of people next to his hotel and they had “spontaneously” invited him out to a bar. (Translation: he had gotten out of the cab and gone to a bar.) And then, oh coincidence of coincidences, he had even met a Polish girl who worked for the TV company that he did business with! (Translation: he may or may not have brought another chick back to his room.)
I decided that I didn’t care enough to dig deeper and just ordered myself a nice big steak tartar to compensate for the presumed emotional damage. While I worked on my minced meat, JJ stabbed at his duck, annoyed all the waiters, and singlehandedly downed 5 glasses of wine. One of my girlfriends joined us for desert. Rather than asking her any questions, JJ spent the entire time talking about himself and showing her baby nephew pictures.
We bid adieu to my friend and walked down the Seine, with me trying to show JJ as much of Paris as I possibly could in the few evening hours we had left. He didn’t seem that impressed but made a point to educate me on random Louis XIV factoids whenever possible. Sensing his boredom and desire to boost his alcohol levels, I led him to L’Hôtel, a beautiful hotel that happens to be Oscar Wilde’s former residence. There, the situation went from bad to worse, as JJ started chugging down his 17-euro cocktails in a way that is usually reserved for H2O while helping himself to a bowl of marinated olives, using his fingers to shove them directly in his mouth, chopped-up garlic and all. After each dip-n-lick, he would render into passionate details of his story du moment while grabbing my leg, spreading olive residue on my Acne jeans. Did I mention he had dandruff ALL OVER him, and a huge hole in his natty old cashmere sweater?!
The waiter, who had avoided us the majority of the night (to avoid subjecting himself to the slob scene, I assume) finally brought the check. JJ chose this moment to indicate that it was time for me to pay by taking the bill out of the waiter’s hand and handing it to me. Classy.
When we exited the hotel around 1AM, JJ suddenly got a hiccup attack. I tried to teach him how to hold in his breath in order to stop, but he ignored me. His loud hiccups echoed through the sleepy Saint-Germain neighborhood, making me yearn for the earth to swallow me alive. Mortified and freezing, I dragged him to the nearest brasserie and ordered water. The waiter took one look at my hiccuping companion and came back with a pitcher that looked like it belonged to a children’s tea set. (I’m pretty certain they reserve them especially to torture Americans.) Five baby pitchers later, I hustled JJ into the back of a cab, knowing all too well that I wouldn’t be able to get rid of him this time around. After struggling to get all 200 pounds of him up to my 5th floor walkup, I was rewarded with an immediate dis of my humble Parisian apartment. Covered in dandruff and chopped-up garlic, my redheaded companion informed me that, after the struggles of Paris, I would really appreciate his Dumbo loft. I shoved two codeine-induced muscle relaxers into his mouth under the pretense of ibuprofen and headed into the shower. By the time I got out, he was passed out cold.
Self-defense at its finest, if I do say so myself.
The night was spent in spooning positions that I will have nightmares about for years to come. I woke up in the morning feeling as if I had been kidnapped by as bear cub. The bear cub quickly turned into a grizzly bear as soon as he realized that that he would not be getting his prey, which I took as my cue to get the hell out of Dodge. I declared that I was starving, got dressed, and hauled JJ out of the house under the pretenses of breakfast. At 10am. On a Sunday. In a neighborhood where the first restaurant open at 11.
During our scenic tour of my empty neighborhood, JJ said exactly one thing to me: “I feel as if Paris is just a maze of circles”. I bit my tongue and refrained from informing him that this had more to do with his liquor consumption than with Paris. When we finally sat down an hour later, my poor ginger’s hangover had increased and he headed to the bathroom for twenty minutes, leaving me at the communal table with a bitchy French couple that seemed to derive pleasure from my discomfort.
At 1pm I walked JJ back to his hotel and gave him an awkward good-bye hug, exchanging false promises to see each other in NYC in the Spring. With that, the most awkward weekend of my life was officially over. While I hope never to see JJ again, I do with for him to find a nice maternal figure who can wipe the crumbs off his clothes and fix his hiccups. Unfortunately, said maternal figure will not be me.