There’s a running joke amongst my girlfriends that I can’t find an American man to save my life.
Actually, they think the joke is I don’t want to.
And while it’s true that I love a foreign man, the joke for me (or on me) feels like that of all the men I meet, not one of them is from here.
The last two guys I dated were chance encounters at restaurants. The first came up to me, the other I approached. I didn’t pick them out of a lineup and say, Oh that one there, he’s clearly from somewhere else.
And yet they were. Brazilian and Nicaraguan, respectively. (I mean, come on).
Sitting at the bar one night with the last man I dated, my tongue loosed by a little too much whiskey (always the whiskey) I revealed a bit about his predecessors and he chuckled, raised his eyebrows, Oh, so you have a thing for Latin man?
Immediately I blushed because yes, yes, of course I do!—point of fact: always have—but I was embarrassed to have him distill it so simply—he with his dark, curly hair (always the dark, curly hair) and deep brown eyes.
When I told my girlfriend Kim, she said, Who doesn’t have a thing for Latin men? Just ask a gay man.
Which was a fair and comforting (and true) point.
I took the subway home about a week ago, a gigantic humidifier between my hands (because the heat in older New York apartments, while extremely fortunate, is unrelenting in it’s pursuit to suck moisture from the air). I was transferring at Broadway-Lafayette and loathing the city with every fiber of my being—which usually translates to me giving death glares to anyone who happens to cross my path--when a tall gentleman moved in front of me. I sort of looked at him impudently before my death stare softened at the realization that he was not-altogether-bad-looking.
In the wake of our held glance he angled into position to get on the same subway car—immediately I knew what game he was playing at, I've played it myself.
Usually the game ends at the shared, silent train ride, but this gentleman upped the ante, sat close by, started chatting.
And out of his mouth came a lovely lilting accent: French.
Before I knew it, we were exiting the train at the same stop, he was asking me to a drink, and because I’m a firm believer in saying yes-to-almost-anything-at-least-once, I was consenting. A drink? Why yes, of course.
And such is how I came to find myself in a dingy Brooklyn bar with a humidifier beneath my feet and a Frenchman by my side.
The drink was fine. And the guy seemed kind. Owned a restaurant. Was reading Catcher in the Rye. We talked about music, a little. He walked me home. Kissed me. And it was fine. He kept laughing in a way that I imagine is as close to a giggle as you’ll get from a grown man—it was sweet—he seemed surprised by the whole thing.
And it felt nice to surprise a man.
But the thing about getting over someone is that a casual drink with someone else is…well…not as exciting as one would hope.
So I told him so. When we spoke again, I told him so.
You see, in matters of casual drinks and first-night-kisses and everything-that-follows-after I am of the opinion that up-front-honesty is the best policy. Saves a whole lotta mess and confusion and possible hurt.
However, in this particular case there was 1. the possibility that my English didn’t quite translate 2. the very likely chance that his persistence led to my waffling and 3. both 1 + 2—so the notion of a second date or proper-first-date or, rather the impossibility-of-either, didn’t quite land.
And for this reason I’ve twice this week hidden from the tall, swarthy Frenchman who lives in my neighborhood.
Physically. Actually, physically hidden.
Because when you live off the same stop as a person and you don’t want to run into them…Murphy’s Law has it that you’re bound to.
So twice this week I’ve been that crazy girl turning circles on her heels, so very “busy” with her phone, that girl hiding behind the very skinny trees that pepper the sparse sidewalks, that girl tracking the movement of a person who may or may not be the man (he was too far ahead to tell) she had a drink at a bar with, while her feet were tucked atop a box containing a humidifier.
I’ve never been a girl who moves quickly from one man to the next. Often I wish I was—I imagine it might be easier (or at least more fun)—I mean French-kissing a Frenchman is something everyone should check of the life-list, if for no other reason than to have a laugh about the pun of it. Instead I’m the girl who heads home and cleans up and cooks a meal and has a single glass of wine and listens to music and falls asleep to old episodes of Frasier.
Because, well the thing is, those simple activities center me—set me right. And when I’m good with myself, the kissing comes easier, and saying yes comes easier, and adventure comes easier.
And I don’t hate New York so much.
And things feel a bit more possible—foreign men and American, too.