There we were, two windswept lovers wrapped in an embrace on Avenue Lowendal at 4:30AM, kissing like the world was going to end. “You are so beautiful,” he whispered, “Jesus Christ.” Little droplets of rain trailed down our skin as he traced over every crevice of my body.
I put my hand around his as it began to gravitate towards The Place of No Return. “I think this might be a government building,” I laughed, looking next to us. “There is definitely a camera here somewhere.” (I’m all for a good makeout sesh but would love for Jean-Pierre the security guard to not be a part of it.)
“I don’t care.” he said as he ran his fingers through my hair, tightened his grip and pulled me in closer to him. “Let’s go upstairs.”
Let’s back up six hours. My friends and I were celebrating the launch of our university magazine at a bar in the 7th arrondissement. At one point, I was walking up the stairs from the bathroom and crossed paths with an interesting-looking man. We smiled at each other and continued on our respective trajectories.
A couple hours later, squeezing through the bar, we came face to face again. “Hi,” he said, moving through the crowd. “Hi,” I smiled back, doing my best not to spill the three drinks delicately balanced in my hands. After a brief moment of locked eye contact, my desire to not end up covered in my friend’s margarita took over and I gave him a friendly nod and shuffled back over to my table. A few minutes later I looked over at the crowded bar and there he was, trapped in a sea of people, looking back over at me.
He had an Ethan Embry quality to him, but less boyish. (For those of you who do not know who Ethan Embry is, he is the actor who played the guy who was in love with Jennifer Love Hewitt in Can’t Hardly Wait. And for those of you who don’t know what Can’t Hardly Wait is, I can only assume you were born so late in the 90s that you can’t really remember them – in which case I am unsure how to interact with you and will ask you that you kindly go hologram yourself somewhere so I can get on with my story.)
My girlfriends and I decided to move to another bar. We walked to the second Irish joint of the night and claimed a long table along the wall. A few minutes later, guess who walked in but Ethan Embry Deux.
We locked eyes again. “Oh so you’re following me!” I said, not entirely sure he wasn’t.
Eventually we ended up sitting next to each other at the bar. He had these really deep-set, fascinating eyes. He told me he had recently graduated from my university. I said that was funny because our school is relatively small and we’d never seen each other before.
“But I have seen you,” he said. “The first time was a couple years ago. I’ve remembered you. I’ve read your articles. And I’ve seen you a since. ”
So I guess I will be playing the role of Jennifer Love Hewitt Deux a.k.a. the oblivious female asshole in this version of the movie.
I was a bit confused though. When I first moved to Paris I had made it a point to get to know all the people my age at my university because 1) there were like seven of us, 2) I wanted friends my age, 3) half of them were men 4) who were all attractive. Either way, I had never met Ethan Embry Deux in my two and a half years of living in Paris.
He told me he was from an obscure state in the midwest. An obnoxious New Yorker who tends to refer to most landlocked American states as “obscure”, I informed him that he was the most foreign person I had ever met. We talked about our lives, our homes, our families, our professional aspirations; our affinity for writing and finding solace in well-chosen words. We just talked. For hours. And then we all hopped in an Uber and went to another bar in the Latin Quarter.
Finally, around 4AM, I decided it was time to call it a night. Ethan Embry Deux and I both happened to live in the same neighborhood, so we got into a cab together and began to make out like teenagers. By the time we emerged for air, the cab was on the corner of my street and the driver was coughing as loud as he could.
We got out of the car, Ethan Embry Deux grabbed me in his arms, and we are now at the beginning of the story.
“Let’s go upstairs,” he said.
I thought about it. It had been a while… And I hadn’t been kissed like that in a very long time. Not so passionately, and not so well. But in the end I decided I didn’t want a one night stand. The sun was going to be up in two hours and I didn’t want to deal with the morning. I didn’t want to deal with an unfamiliar body, a new scent on my sheets, cuddling out of not knowing what else to do. I told him no. He tried to change my mind but in the end was a gentlemen. He still proceeded to kiss me on that corner like we were running out of time.
“When will I see you again?” he asked.
I took his phone and typed in my number.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Try calling me tomorrow, I might just pick up.”
The next day I woke up and went about my day. A few hours later I went on Facebook and typed in his first name – which was all I remembered – expecting his profile to appear, but nothing came up. This was strange because at the bar I had handed him my phone to add himself and he appeared to have typed in his name and sent the request. Hm.
I went out with my friends later that night, kind of expecting to get a text (or something crazy, like a phone-call) but, nothing. Nothing on Sunday either. Had I imagined him? Was he actually Jaqen H’ghar from Game of Thrones and had morphed into another man I would have to deal with at a later time?
Monday afternoon I got a new follower on Twitter. Well if it wasn’t Ethan Embry Deux. Now, armed with the knowledge of the man’s last name, I looked him up on Facebook. His public profile had a lot of beautiful photos on it. Photos of him traveling, having fun with friends, dining in exotic places and, last but not least, kissing his beautiful new wife on their wedding day seven months ago.
One after another, pictures of him and his…wife… popped up on the screen. They were happily posed next to a magnificent cliff on a trip they took a few weeks ago. And the pictures were filled with comments from the woman’s friends saying things like, “Nothing like two people in love!” and “The happy couple, love you guys (:” and there were just lots of hearts everywhere.
I sat there with my mouth open. He had seemed – more than anything else – so nice! Even when he propositioned me on the street at 4:30 in the morning, it was just in this really decent, pleasant way. What. The. Fuck.
I sent a picture of the happy couple to my girlfriend who had been out with us on Friday night and we both tried to think of an explanation, other than “No one can be trusted. Everything is a lie. The world is meant to crush us.”
We obviously did not recall seeing a wedding ring. Could they be separated? Even though they were in pictures together from a few weeks ago? Does she have his last name because they are actually siblings who are living together in Paris and their friends just refer to them as a couple because, in the literal sense, a pairing of two people is, in fact, a couple? Are they all a part of an elaborate social experiment to create a public Facebook profile and fill it up with allusions of marriage and happiness to see how society would respond?
Yeah, no.The guy just cheated on his wife. With me. And made me involuntarily complicit in the betrayal of this other woman. It could have been worse. We could have slept together. But the only reason we hadn’t was because I had said no. Now – I hung out with this guy for all of six hours. I know nothing about him or his life. Maybe they have an open marriage. Maybe she cheats on him. Maybe they’re polygamous and he was simply trying to see if I would be a good sister wife to his real wife because he has a real wife because he. is. married.
He texted me at 12:30AM the next morning. He said a bunch of things, all of which were complimentary and kind. I did not respond. Two days later he texted me again in the middle of the night telling me he was looking forward to seeing me again. It’s really weird being on the receiving end of someone’s compelling behavior while simultaneously knowing he is lying to you, and more importantly, to someone who loves and trusts him.
I waited for the next afternoon to text him back. I told him Facebook was a fascinating place, he had some great pictures up there, and that I especially enjoyed the ones of him on his wedding day. He wrote me a Russian novel of an excuse, telling me they were going through a hard time and how much of an impression I had left on him blah blah blah. My girlfriend who is a black belt in social-media-stalking then sent me a link to his wife’s Instagram where the two of them had been frolicking around the Eiffel Tower like a week before.
So, Ethan Embry Deux, since I will not be responding to you, in case you happen to look me up like you have before and come across this article, please know that I very much enjoyed getting to know the parts of you that you had on display when we met. You were graceful in your deceit. But the next time you decide to be collectively charming and disingenuous, make sure your social media isn’t public when you cheat on your wife. With a writer.
Now go drink some Lemonade and think about what you’ve done.