I made a routine run to the nearby grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. After an unseasonably cool summer, Paris decided to finally heat up. A cold homemade pasta salad was on the menu for the evening. With fall right around the corner, this might be our last chance this season.
As I’m circling my way around the produce, I notice this attractive French man eyeing me a bit. Now, I live in France. This is not abnormal (though I tend to not notice it as Paul has pointed out). It wasn’t gawky or uncomfortable, but as I do every other time I see it, I just ignore it and go on with my shopping. It’s the French way.
Lemons, check. Parsley, check. Carrots, olives, peppers, pasta check. We just needed a little cheese to top it off, cuz this Wisconsin transplant to France can’t go many meals without it. So I head to the massive cheese aisle, considering the hundreds of different options – but looking for one in particular. As I’m standing there, I’m approached by the French man from earlier in produce:
– Excusez-moi, où avez-vous acheté vos chaussures? (“Excuse me, where did you buy your shoes?”)
I glance down to be reminded that I was wearing my Sperry boat shoes…not the most “French” shoe out there.
– Euh, aux États-Unis. (“Uhhhh…in the United States”).
– Quoi? You don’t speak French? (This is a very common response from many French people who hear your perfectly adequate French, but knows your accent is a little, shall we say, étranger (foreign).
– Non, je parle Français, mais… (whatever, he’s speaking English to me)… Yeah, I bought them in America.
– Oh, wow, ok. I like them a lot. They’re very cool. So where are you from?
So I went on to tell him I’m from the midwest (I’m giving one-word answers here – I just want my cheese). He proceeds to tell me he lived in California for a time. So he continues, asking:
– You live in Paris? Why?
– Ah, what kind of work?
– Ah, hardware or software?
– And you didn’t choose to live in San Francisco?
– Nope. I chose Paris.
– What’s your name?
– Jordan. Yours?
– (Something I hadn’t heard of before.)
– Well, it was nice to meet you…
I go on to finally pick my cheese, (brebis, for you cheese lovers out there – it’s like the French answer to feta) and I head to the check-out. As I’m paying, I see the guy out of the corner of my eye leave the store ahead of me. OK, good, that’s done.
As I leave the store, I see him standing maybe 20 feet to the right of the exit. That’s fine, I go left anyway. But juuust in case he was waiting for me, and not for other friends, or to plan where he’d go next, I walk a bit quicker than normal because I really don’t care to continue this conversation. Also, as I mentioned it’s hot today, and I now have a heavy bag of groceries I want to get home with. I’m about a block away when I hear:
Oh boy. He waited for me. I greet him but continue walking. Maybe he just wanted to see what I looked like without a mask.
– Oh, I wanted to ask you… did you come here (France) on your own? Or…
– Nope, I came here with my husband.
– Ahh. OK, yea, you looked like a confident married woman. (Haha, what?) Well, do you have kids? (Ok, buddy, let’s move on..)
– Well maybe soon…
– Do you live around here?
– Ah cool, yeah, I’m that way (the opposite direction I’m going in).
– OK, great. Good to meet you. Have a nice day, goodbye!
And I went off to buy a baguette and get home to tell Paul all about the persistent man from the grocery store. In case you were wondering, Paul laughed and encouraged me to document this story. Although the interaction with him was a little more forward than other times I’ve experienced (except for the pickup line tried on me while I was drawing down by the river, about how I had beautiful hands for drawing…), it wasn’t creepy or harassy or anything. I felt safe, albeit a bit surprised he caught up with me on the sidewalk to continue our conversation.
Ah, French and love. They’ll look for it anywhere. Everywhere. Even better if it’s in the cheese aisle between the brie and the single-serve vache qui rit (laughing cow). Though you might not get everything you want in one trip.