NB: This story is one of those random discoveries that happens when a French asshole steals your phone in the supermarket (yes, hence the Instagram hiatus) and you are forced to resort to your prehistoric iPhone 4. While randomly scrolling through your old notes and feeling bad for your former ex-boyfriend-obsessed self, you suddenly stumble across a refreshing surprise in the form of a never-before-posted DD story. Hence, here is the story of the Australian, circa my first year in Paris.
Ah, Paul. I still sigh when I think of Paul. I would like to call him “The One That Got Away”, except that in reality, I have come to realize that Paul and I never stood much of a chance.
I met Paul on the same night that I cut bangs, which triggered me to subsequently lose my mind. In fact, I would like to blame the entire incident on the media. You see, a few weeks after moving to Paris, I began noticing that every street billboard for brands à la Maje and Sandro featured a long, lanky chick in skinny jeans, an oversized gray coat, and perfectly messy bangs. Having the wardrobe part down, I decided to complete it with a nice 70’s fringe… What I didn’t realize was that the “long, lanky” part is actually a prerequisite for the look, and so, unless you happen to look like Freja Erichsen, bangs generally don’t do you many favors. Long story short, I looked like shit.
Still oblivious to the fact that I had committed a mistake that would cost me three months in Instagram photos, I headed to dinner to show off my new ‘do to my friends, who faux complemented me while exchanging knowing looks behind my back – they knew I would regret it. After dinner, we proceeded to smoke some weed, which often has a tendency to affect my brain in an weird way.. The pot, the crow’s nest on my head, the long week at school – needless to say, I quickly started flying high off the walls, raiding friend’s cabinets for things such as hair conditioner, kale chips and individually wrapped seaweed, which I decided to take home with me.
With my scary hair and bag of contraband goods, I decided to join another friend at La Perle for a nightcap. This is when I first saw Paul. Tall and rugged and handsome, he stood out like a white night in a sea of shaggy Jewish hipsters trapped in a state of endless Movember. I could practically smell his cologne, his penchant for hygiene, his distinct non-frenchness.. I decided that I absolutely had to talk to him, and so I did this thing where I “accidentally” pretend to bump into somebody, then lift my eyes and whisper “désolé”. (Except, this time, I had dirty bangs to peek up from!) Nonetheless, it worked, and soon enough I was chatting with Sexy Paul, a 33-year-old Australian expat living in my neighborhood. We conversed in a way that two people starved for good English do – enunciating every word, making witty jokes and attempting even wittier repartees. As the bar started closing, I opened my bag and, after showing him all the things I had stolen from the 16th Arrondissement, wrote down my number on a piece of individually wrapped seaweed. In lipstick. Paul, who seemed quite amused by my one-woman magic show, promised to text that weekend.
I didn’t hear from him that weekend, or the one after, or the one after that. In fact, I didn’t hear from Paul until two months later, when he apparently found the piece of seaweed with my number in his jacket pocket. I was hungover and reluctant to see him, especially considering the amount of time it had taken him to text me. However, he invited me to Canal St Martin, which meaning to check out for awhile, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone. As we shared a bottle of wine and bonded over our respective expat experiences, I found myself having a great time. It turned our that Paul was in Paris on a four-year contract, working for a company that installs oil drills. (FYI, oil is like an aphrodisiac word amongst women – it arouses senses we didn’t know exist.) As I imagined his tall and handsome self (I’m not kidding, this guy looked like an Australian Ken doll come to life) standing on a dock of an oil drilling ship, wearing one of those sexy protective helmets, my urge to jump his bones grew. He walked me home and told me he wanted to see me on Friday, before leaving to Sweden for some oil drilling conference.
Friday couldn’t come soon enough. I was ready to impress Paul this time around, showing him that I was more than Cookoo Seaweed Bananas with a drinking problem. I spent the entire afternoon trying to pick out the perfect outfit (skinny jeans and Equipment top – groundbreaking), blow drying my hair, and generally trying to make myself look as put-together as possible. At Grazie, an overpriced pizzeria on boulevard Beaumarchais, I ate my personal pizza like the Sexy Hungry Woman that women’s magazines tell us to be. I listened attentively, asking all the right questions in all the right places. At some point of the evening I started feeling like a therapist, learning way more personal information about Paul that I had been ready for… Including the fact that he had recently ended a relationship of 12 years.
At this point, I almost choked on my personal pizza. Twelve years?! Twelve years is almost half my life! Twelve years is a marriage! Not only that, but it turned out that they had broken up because he had cheated on her, and then decided to tell her about it. This hit a nerve. You see, I personally think that admitting to cheating is the single most selfish thing one can do, besides the cheating itself. The other person ends up feeling terrible, however the cheater feels better because they finally don’t have this giant lie hanging above their head, eating them up alive. No, dickhead. If you cheated, live with it already. Live with it and soak in the full misery of it.
Anyway, Paul casually admitting to me over pizza that he had broken this poor girls heart to shreds, made me like him slightly less. But then he gave me his leather jacket and walked me home and kissed me in a way than I hadn’t been kissed in a while, and I thought the one thought that no girl should ever allow herself to think. “Maybe I could change him.” I can’t begin to stress how dumb these words are. These are the words that lead to broken hearts, to relationships that drag on for way longer than necessary, to frustration that turn the most confident of girls into crazy ass bitches. However, against my better judgment, I couldn’t help but start building an Instagram-worthy narrative in my silly little head. There were Paul and I, running through the Jardin du Luxembourg on a Sunday morning. There we were again, doing some light shopping after brunch at Rose Bakery. Oh look, us again, jumping on a train for an impromptu weekend in Brussels! In my mind, we were going to be one of those adorable organic hipster couples that you see on the street, looking all compatible and photogenic and perfect.
Paul left to his conference, I left to the French countryside, where I worked on getting toned and sexy and tanned – after all, I was a woman on the verge of a new relationship! The problem was, I hadn’t heard from Paul in weeks. The whole time, I tried really hard not to be bothered by this: he’s busy, he’s not into long distance, he’s this and that.. Nope, Paul was simply MIA. One day, I got tired of waiting and texted him a casual “Hey, how are you?” The worst thing happened – he responded right away. His phone had not been stolen by wild animals in Sweden. He had not drowned in a tragic accident. Nope, Paul was alive and clearly not that interested in pursuing our blossoming relationship.
However, at this point, I had put in way too much mental energy into this thing, and wasn’t ready to give up so easily. Somehow, I cajoled another date, which took place at a neighborhood bar and ended up with another excellent kiss by my front door. After this, Paul disappeared again.. Clearly, something was off. Curious, I decided to switch approaches. After one sweet text to wheedle a response (at this point, I was used to being the first one texting), I turned to full-on crazy bitch mode, texting random stuff that came to my head at random times, then suddenly disappearing for days. The weirdest thing happened – Paul bit. He liked the psycho-bitch me! The problem was, the minute I became nice again, he pulled away.
After weeks of this pointless back-and-forth, during which my bubble slowly deflated, I saw Paul again in the beginning of August. We decided to make it a double date (probably a safer option, given my recent behavior) and invited two of our friends. After one drink too many at cafe Charlot, my friend confronted Paul about his issues, which he openly admitted to. In fact, it turned out that I wasn’t that special – anytime a date went well and was repeated by another good date, he would cut the communication immediately. He didn’t want to get involved with anybody in a serious way and was determined to do everything in his power to ensure this.
After twelve years of commitment, Paul was simply looking for a good time. He didn’t want to go jogging, or to have brunch, or soak in the sun together at Place des Vosges. He wanted the girl he had met that night at La Perle, with the bad bangs and individually packed seafood, the girl ready for a good time. Unfortunately for him, I’m not always that girl. Sure, there will be nights of smoking myself silly and writing my number on random inanimate objects, nights of running wild around Paris and providing entertainment to those around me. But those nights are the exception, and not the rule. And I am certainly not planning to initiate “wild” behavior for a hot Australian guy who’s trying to catch up on everything he feels he missed out on in his 20’s. Unfortunately, my own lifestyle is no longer conducive to this, hence I will have to find somebody who likes me for me – a little bit nerdy, a little bit quiet, a little bit boring.