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"Tu t'es bien amusée hier soir?" He asked. This could be translated/interpreted as either, "Did you have fun last night [at the party]?" or "Did that amuse you [sleeping with my roommate, you ketchup-loving American pirate-hooker]?" I noticed that the newspaper was crumpled in his hand.
Before I could respond, Nicholas Deux emerged from his room. Instantly, any trace of ill-will vanished from his roommate's face. They discussed scores from a recent match of le foot (soccer).
The next week, at work, Nicolas Un avoided all contact with me. He "didn't get" my work-related emails, and waited until the last possible second to furnish information that I needed to compile various long, boring reports, which required me to work until late in the evening (by French standards, anyway). He "confided" in the most bavarde (gossipy) assistants about my wanton ways, conveniently leaving out the part about how we were "absolutely, in no way dating" in the first place. I endured a lot of amused, knowing glances as it became common knowledge around the office that I was one of those heartless American sluts who the movies had warned them about.
For the sake of keeping the peace with his roommate, Nicolas Deux and I decided to put the hookups on hold. However, we became good friends, albeit sans benefits, in the months that followed. I learned that he had recently broken up with his first and only long-term girlfriend, and had come to the States hoping to "sow his wild oats" ("assuming I have more than one," he smiled). Somehow, I became the New & Improved Nicolas's unlikely sherpa to the world of dating in New York City.
At some point in early summer, Nicolas 2.0 was out on a date with a Latvian girl he had met in an elevator. That same night, Nicolas Un and I found ourselves at a bar after work, where we stayed until the others had all left. Our conflicts forgotten after a few glasses of wine, we made the unspoken decision to go "see the view" from his bedroom. During the act, all I could think of was how much I would rather be "seeing the view" from the room across the hall. (On the upside, there was no danger of calling out the wrong name in the throes of passion.)
Around midnight, Nicolas Deux returned home, alone, from his date. The other Nicolas fast asleep, I tiptoed into the living room. Nicolas and I burst into the kind of comforting laughter that needs no explanation. We started chatting about his failed date, and ended up talking until dawn about women and men and everything under the sun (except, thankfully, tariffs on French dairy exports). At that point, I wanted nothing more than to crawl in bed with the funny, prematurely bald Nicolas. But, even by French standards, going directly from one roommate/coworker's bed to another's would be a bit, well, gauche.
For a series of obvious and less-obvious reasons, I didn't hook up with either Nicolas for a while, although Nicolas Deux and I had lunch together almost every day. About a month before he was scheduled to go back to France, N2 looked at me in the elevator after work.
"You wanna have zha sex?" he asked, in charmingly-accented English.
"You had me at 'zha,'" I said.
The next morning, Nicolas Un actually laughed when I emerged from his roommate's bedroom. We all went out for bagels, which the guys thought were "très bizarre."
For the next month, Nicolas Deux and I continued a casual, off-and-on fling that involved defiling government property. Rumors about L'Affaire Nicolas abounded among incoming interns and French government employees. In addition to the lousy pay, this prompted me to get another job — one where, I vowed, I would never sleep with any of my coworkers. No matter how good "the view" was.
And, in the intervening years, I've never simultaneously dated two of my co-workers who shared the same name, and the same apartment owned by a foreign government. Not even once.
Want to meet a seductive Frenchman, or possibly two? (Or a ketchup-loving American pirate hooker?) Head for Nerve Dating.