Dateline: "France makes figuring out if you're on a date more confusing…"
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9:00 p.m. – This isn't a date. I'm in France, and I'm waiting in the rain without umbrella. I am undersized and my brown jacket is oversized; I'm afraid my head looks like a tiny pale root vegetable peeking out of the mud. I try to imagine ways that this could translate to "good first impression."
9:05 – Not-date shows up five minutes late and kisses me on both cheeks. French cultural tendencies make differentiating between a date and a not-date infinitely more confusing. Not-date asks me what I want to do. I say "eat." I mean "bone." He's the teaching assistant on my study-abroad program. Boning would be far sexier and more illicit than eating. He asks where. I point to the nearest restaurant.
9:09 – At restaurant, eating a croque madame. We talk movies, music. Not-date shows me the contents of his iPod. I admire his discerning taste.
11:05 – Not-date asks what I want to do next. I wonder if this means our not-date is actually a date, as a not-date wouldn't normally extend this late.
11:25 – Not-date recommends a club. I say "great." I think, "date." Date tells me all of his best friends will be there, and it'd be nice for me to get to speak the language and mingle with locals. I think "not-date." I'm just the victim of this not-date's campaign to secure a full-time job in my program through professorial overachievement. Not date. Mentee. And does mentee pay for his own croque? Indeed.
11:45 – At the club. Gay club. So he's gay? So date? But his friends are here, and he's salaciously dancing with them. So not date? Then he gets closer to me. Date?
11:46 – He starts joke-dancing and showing off moves from his amateur hip-hop classes. But maybe he's not joking. Is he a good dancer and a joking not-date, or a not-joking-bad-dancer date? The layers of this equation keep piling on, but the problem remains unsolved. I drink. He doesn't drink. I ask why. He says drinking makes him drunk. Fair enough.
5:00 a.m. – Hours of dancing. Hours of flirtatiously getting closer, then coyly distancing ourselves from one another with heinous dance moves. I'm drunk. He's not drunk. Drinking makes him drunk.
5:10 – He walks me to my bus. Waiting at the stop. I try to kiss him. I lunge or wobble towards him.
5:10 – He backs away.
5:10 – I'm flabbergasted. He reads it on my face. He says, "Oh, I was worried you might have thought it was a date."
5:10 – "How was this not a date?"
5:10 – "I thought about maybe telling you it wasn't a date, but I was having such a good time, and I have this problem where I can't stand missed opportunities. I have a problem with frivolity — this urge to be rational and this opposing urge to experience everything. I've had a boyfriend for two years. I'm very much in love with him."
5:20 – We talk. I've missed my first bus. I'm leaning on the wall of a building.
5:40 – I miss my next bus.
5:45 – I'm sandwiched between the wall and his lips. We kiss until the next bus arrives.
6:00 – I get on the bus.
6:05 – I get a text. A Jean Cocteau quote. "Frivolity is the most beautiful reaction to fear." Date?