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Written By: Charles Platt
For as long as I live, I’ll never forget the shock I felt upon seeing her for the first time. With three female friends, she strolled into that same café which since then, she and I have now twice frequented ourselves. And as those four young French women passed by my table, I took note of them all of course, but especially one of them. And I also noted how that particular one seemed to take special note of me as well.
And those four young French women found a table and sat down then. And as they began to look at their menus, I noticed that the one who’d especially caught my attention was sneaking peeks at me as she simultaneously gazed at the café’s listing of food choices. And the other three also looked at me from time to time, but not as consistently as that one certain one.
And yes, of course I was also looking over at them as well. But I was trying to disguise my glances. And I looked away quickly whenever eye contact was made between myself and one of the four. But I noticed that on the few times my eyes met the eyes of that special one, I felt a flutter in my chest, and could feel blood rush to my face.
So, in that fashion then I proceeded with my meal. And I’d guess I was about half finished with it at the time that a waiter came to the girl’s table and took their orders – all in French of course. And then I noticed how the four of them began to laugh and talk to one another; apparently they were happy. And I noticed that three of them didn’t look at me for some time then. But then that special one began to stare at me! Her eyes were on me, and she made no effort to look away from me as I quickly glanced away from her whenever my eyes saw hers.
Yes, her eyes were on me, and she didn’t seem to care that I noticed her staring at me. And then from time to time her friends would try to engage her in their conversation, and she did speak to them, but kept looking at me. And suddenly then I felt embarrassed. And I envisioned myself then as a young America male, off in Paris, chasing French women, although I’d not really gone to the city of light for that purpose.
And then I felt flattered. And I found myself liking the fact that a young Parisian woman of about my age apparently was attracted to me. And her eyes were rather large I thought. And their gaze seemed to pierce right through me. “Oh God,” I thought, “it wouldn’t take much to fall in love with this one.” And maybe I already had!
But how is it that someone can attract another in this way? Oh, those large brown eyes, that perfect skin color, and that certain, well, it’s a trait I’ve noticed in many of the women of Paris; and I don’t have a name for it, so I’ll call it “Frenchness,” and hope you’ll know what I mean. And oh that stare! That look of longing! And yet that look of distantness as well.
And then I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps she thought she should own me. And I fantasized about her getting up from her table, walking to mine, and saying “I love you.” But it really seemed as though she thought then that she’d now found something she’d been searching for for a long time. And then I felt as if I belonged to her.
But then the waiter reappeared with the food the four had ordered. And soon the four were eating. And while they ate I noticed all four of them sort of peeking at me from time to time. And they were laughing, but not at me I hoped. But the one certain one looked at me more than the others, and I could tell that her three friends were teasing her – and probably about me. But I couldn’t understand what they were saying. They spoke in French, and there was a distance between us.
But the certain one continued to look at me as she ate. And our backward and forward staring at one another continued until I finished eating. And then I got up from my table, left a tip, and walked away to pay the bill which, by that time my waiter had given me. And I walked by the four French women on my way to pay that bill. And as I passed their table I heard one of them say in English, and deliberately loud enough for me to hear I thought, “I think he’s American.”
The next day found me and that “special one” back in that same café again; and at the same time as the day before. But this time she was alone. And the two of us walked over to one another, introduced ourselves, and admitted we’d come there that day hoping to meet each other.
So, Uncle Ralphie, thank you for sending me to Paris. I didn’t find what you dispatched me here to seek. Yet, I’ve found something far more valuable. Her name is Valerie, and she wants to speak to you soon via telephone.
My love and respect always
Your friend and protégé, Corzer