The day was difficult. After my shift, I went back to our residence to sleep through a rainy afternoon.
By the evening, I felt restored . . . somewhat. My cough was ever present, and people grew so accustomed to it, they didn’t bother to stop talking in the midst of my coughing fits.
Frank wanted to see me again, which I thought was a kind gesture at first. Then, when I met him at 9pm, we sat down on a few steps in front of a closed store buried behind the thick river of paparazzi, and I realized it wasn’t a social call.
Frank, “A few times during sex last night, the condom came off. I didn’t cum but I picked this up because I really think you should take it.”
Out from his bag, he revealed a Morning-After Pill.
He said, “Now, I thought it would be difficult to pick up, since I am not the woman. But I just walked into a pharmacy, explained the situation, and they sold it to me for 6Euroes. They laughed about it, actually.”
I said, “You didn’t come inside of me, so why would I take that?”
Frank, “You are a young woman, how old?”
I flatly responded, “34.” Not so young.
He said, “This is the perfect age for you to get pregnant.”
Me, “And I am ovulating right now . . .” I laughed. It’s true but in no way did I feel like I was in danger of being impregnated by THAT sexual experience.
Frank, in a low, constant voice, worked his argument to no end, “You are 34, you are ovulating, you have got to take this pill.”
He continued, “And you have to dress better at night during the rain, it isn’t helping your cough any.”
When Frank looked at me as we spoke, he smiled and would turn away to finish seriously. I was trying to figure out why he was fighting so hard for this. I mean, when you are sexually involved- condoms come off. It happens. There are holes no one discovers. Small tears. It’s part of the larger consequence of sex in general. And if I got pregnant by an Irish producer who was terrible in the sack, would that be the worst thing in the world?
And why did he keep smiling at me?
Me, “It’s not just taking a pill. Its overdosing your body with hormones. It seriously affects your mood and your body. Men don’t seem to get that. I have had relationships dissolve because the pill is so intense.”
Frank, “I think its better to take the pill and suffer some unpleasantries, than get pregnant. ”
Me, “I don’t feel it’s justified. And its not just some unpleasantries, its a full assault on your body. I don’t need to get intense and moody during the best trip of my life because you are being paranoid.”
Frank, “You are in the south of France, how moody could you get? The weather is lovely.”
He held out the pill.
Me, “It makes me emotional and crazy. Neurotic. I don’t want to turn on the people I am close to because of an overdose of estrogen.”
Frank, “But you have your co-workers around you. It won’t matter.”
Me, “They are not just professional relationships.”
Frank, “It doesn’t matter. The consequence is too large. You don’t need to have an abortion or worse yet, to have a baby.”
Frank smiled a little but said, “No seriously.”
Me, “But I just came out of a 2 year relationship where we only did pull out and I never got pregnant.” . . . even when I wanted to.
Frank, “But that was with a different man. There are so many factors. You are speaking like a 16-year-old. You can’t do that. (silence) Do you need some water? Here. (he hands me one bottle of water) Take it now.”
Frank, “Do it before you start drinking tonight, please. Once you start drinking, you won’t take it. It’s just escapism.”
Frank, “Please, I don’t want to have a baby, with you or any woman. Seriously.”
Why did that hurt my feelings?
Me, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I will take it with me, and think about it. But thats it.”
Frank, “Sure you don’t want to just take it now? You’ve got the water right here.”
Me, “No. Look, I have had an abortion and a miscarriage. I understand the weight of the consequences here, ok? I will think about it.”
Frank said, “So you can get pregnant and were pregnant before. All the more reason to think about it.”
I said, “Do you want to join me for karaoke?”
He chuckled on his exhale, “No, I have to get some sleep. I have been in meetings all day.”
I was meeting some of the kids at a karaoke party at the Station Tavern, closer inland. The woman I was walking up with stopped to get a sandwich at a hole in the wall. There was a small refrigerator display with a handsome, trim but muscular blond boy working the counter over it.
We walked up and I just stood for a moment, in awe of his beauty.
The older guy who was standing there before our arrival, just chatting with him, noticed my reaction and elbowed the boy. Gave a nod.
The boy turned to look at me and gave me that genuine, seductive smile. Do they train them how to do that somewhere? Jesus.
We walked over to the Station Tavern and found a couple of the students next to a table by a group of Scottish filmmakers.
The woman hosting the karaoke was a French woman with a monotone voice, calling out the song and first name of the singer-to-be twice in flat succession.
A text came in from Frank: “Take the pill before you start drinking, please.”
I rolled my eyes.
I heard about this party from a guy I will call Roche. I met him at a mixer in our office a few days before. One of the men he was with was incredibly tall and attractive. Fair. Big blue eyes. Maybe a little older than me. I thought he looked a bit like Matthew Lillard but a little more pleasing on the eyes.
One of my co-workers, a middle-aged woman who was always calm and positive, offered to introduce me.
We approached his table and she said, “Hey, do I know you?”
Tall, Handsome Stranger, “I don’t think so.”
My Co-Worker, “Oh. Do you know her?” She motioned to me.
Tall, Handsome Stranger laughed . . . , “No, I don’t believe so. (offering his hand) Hi, I am Justin.”
One of the men at the table was Roche. He was a large fellow, tall and wide around the waist with vintage glasses. When he spoke, everything had emphasis, like he was constantly dictating into a megaphone.
He stood up, shook my hand from across the table and said, “I just have one question for you.”
I said, “What’s that?”
He said, “Why does it look like you just came back from clam digging with Pee-Wee Herman?”
It was rainy and windy out, but through the occasional bursts of sunshine, I was wearing capris and a rock t-shirt. The capris were getting to be too large on me, since I was losing weight from not eating nearly enough and constantly running around from adventure to adventure.
My mouth dropped open.
I said, “These are my mother’s pants.”
So, Roche came into the bar, his large presence, and bellowed my name with a slight bow and a handshake.
I said, “No drink?”
He said, “No. I don’t drink. I lost a kidney a while back.”
Me, “Good thing you came with two.”
He said, “Exactly. A drink or two would ruin me now.”
I smiled and drank a beer someone handed me.
Roche, “OK, well . . . I will make my rounds.”
I patted his back, “Ok. Oops, is that your kidney side, or your no more kidney side?”
He said, “That’s my kidney side. The one on my left was removed.”
So I patted his left side, “Don’t want to damage all you have left.”
He said, “Thanks.”
I sat back down with my good-looking male students. I was wondering if the film industry just attracts beautiful people or if it was by chance everyone around me was so aesthetically pleasing.
The man at the table next to me shouted out to the dance floor, “Bun mean tafolk me Gorn.”
I turned to my 18-year-old British student, “What language is that?”
He stared back and me and lifted only one side of his mouth, “English.”
That night of karaoke was epic.
What makes an epic night of karaoke?
Well, number 1: The selection of music
Whitney Houston, Beatles, Rolling Stones, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s . . . it was an eclectic and, most importantly, HAPPY selection.
Number 2: A group of strangers who all want to sing, ideally from all around the world
When a couple Asian girls came up for a broken English version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, every country chimed in to finish the song through to the last, melodramatic note.
Number 3: Dancing . . .
I filled in this part, and got a few people to join me. It was crowded, but everyone was friendly and encouraged me to dance.
Number 4: Men who will get drinks for you
I met a Swede who insisted to wait at the bar for my drink and bring it to me, so I could continue to sing and dance.
And sing and dance I did . . . I started with “Like a Virgin” which my British student videotaped on his phone.
Then he and I ended up standing and chiming in to every song.
Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”
Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)”
Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”
Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Give It Away Now”
Anytime there was just a solo singer, I was handed the second microphone.
Anytime someone didn’t show up for their song, I was handed the microphone.
My voice wasn’t up for singing, but the beer helped soothe the coughing and I kept going until the very last song . . .
The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon”
I couldn’t believe . . . that.
A bald, middle-aged British Journalist sang it, and all my love for the Beatles and the obscurity rose up in my Stella and my sweat soaked t-shirt.
The bar closed, pushing hoards of people out into the street and I didn’t know what to do with myself, but follow my handsome students, New York and my Czech suitor, who arrived at some point.
The British Journalist was closing in on me, getting close to my face with his hand on my hip. He wanted me to come home with him.
I said, “I can’t. But I really love Rocky Raccoon.”
We all collected outside. Some of the students had their eye on an attractive girl or two, and I tried to mobilize us anywhere else to go dancing.
We all migrated to “Le Petit Majestic”, where it seemed 400 people had gathered to wait for hot dogs and get in line for drinks. We couldn’t all fit in the bar, so most of us were outside with our drinks, obstructing traffic, teetering on cobble stones and swooning at each other in the midnight.
I kept losing one of the men in my party, and finding another.
Filing inside for my beer, finishing the hot dog bun a French boy got per my request, I found myself standing across from a skinny, brown boy who just struck my Trent chord. He was talking to a girl, and bent over like a Mick Jagger broken doll.
He caught my eye and I said, “I am sorry. You just really remind me of a good friend.”
In a thick Italian accent he said, “I do?”
I said, “Yes, but he’s gay. Are you?”
He said, “Of course I am gay.”
I clasped my hands together, “Oh good!”
He would speak in a musical pace, trying to sound out each English word, “So . . . I remind you of your gay friend.”
I said, “My best friend. He has a wild spirit and doesn’t know how good he has it with his boyfriend.”
My New Gay Italian Boyfriend said, “He has a boyfriend? I can’t find anyone to be with me.”
My smile faded, “But why? You are beautiful.”
He said, “I know . . . I know I am beautiful. I can’t find anyone who deserve me.”
I said, “I love you.”
He said, “I love you, too.”
We exchanged cards.
Outside, I ran into my Czech suitor. He knew a lot of people, and I hung loosely on the outskirts of his conversation. Just then, a blond, 5’9 man with tan Ken Doll skin and big blue eyes approached. I would say he was thick, but he wasn’t fat or necessarily muscular. He was proportionate, with a chest that feathered out in pride and the kind of arms that would knock you over just from their center of gravity, rather than biceps.
He knew Czech.
And then saw me, and stumbled backward.
He said, “Oh my God . . . you are cute. What have you done bringing this girl to me?”
He stopped swaying and covered his mouth.
Then he continued, “I am going to fall in love with this girl. I am going to marry this girl. How am I supposed to go back to my regular life when you have brought me this thing?”
Czech reluctantly introduced me, “This is David.”
I reached out my hand. His accent sounded slurred but British and I didn’t know what nationality he was.
He grabbed my hand and held it, staring into my eyes with a sparkle of humor.
I said, “Are you my Mr. Darcy?”
He dropped my hand, and almost in disgust said, “Am I your Mr. Darcy?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Elizabeth, I have come to rescue you from the class system struck upon your family and take you away to my land in comfort.”
I said, “Oooh.”
He smiled and took a drink, missing his mouth at first. This guy was tanked.
He continued, “You are cute. (silence) But I have done better.”
I turned my nose up, “How rude.”
Czech tried interfering, “Come on, that’s such an old tactic. Make the pretty girl feel insecure. Its so lame.”
Czech was right, and he was being a gentleman . . . but it was in the personal charisma where he was losing.
Though Darcy was bawdy, and drunk and rude, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
Darcy, “Sorry. We can conquer class and time and be together.”
Me, “I have a very large family to support.”
Darcy, “Of course . . . “
He turned away and turned back, “But I have had better.”
I released a hot sigh of frustration. I turned to go sit down. I was getting tired. It must be 4am now.
There was a high curb on the other side of the street lights. I sat comfortably next to Czech, as he slipped into another conversation with a Norwegian producer. He was ambitious, I will give him that.
I leaned my head against the street light.
Darcy came back with a couple beers and leaned into a pretty girl 10 feet deep into the crowd. He quickly shot his head back, as if disgusted with her answer to his question. Then he walked straight towards me and handed me a beer.
Darcy, “I brought you back a beer.”
I said, “Thanks, I thought I was going to lose you to that other pretty girl.”
Darcy, “Who? Her? Ha. No . . . I find you quite beautiful, or else I wouldn’t have brought you back a beer.”
He laughed and turned his head, “God, that sounds pathetic. I brought you back a beer because you’re beautiful.”
We both laughed.
The beer stung my tongue with a lime bite.
Darcy, “I know, they’re awful. They combine tequila and beer, but they were out of everything else.”
I said, “I quite like it actually.”
Darcy, “Do you? Wow. Huh. Good talk.”
Whenever he blew out a “Good Talk” it was with a superficial apathy, as if to wrap up a distressingly boring story. I actually found that funny.
Czech noticed Darcy next to me and said, “Why are you falling for this power play bullshit? He is insulting you so it gives him the advantage.”
Darcy stopped drinking and looked at him with his mouth agape, as if outraged. I noticed how plump his lips were.
Czech, “I have read books on this strategy. There is no honor.”
I said, “I am not falling for it.” Was I?
And continued, “I just assume you are a bad drunk.”
Darcy, “Oh . . . right. Ok, good talk.”
Me, “Great talk.”
Darcy stopped to smile, I was playing along with his joke.
Czech checked out of the conversation. Ha.
He delicately let the words turn his tongue, “Oh . . . no. How about we leave and I fuck you?”
Darcy, “In my apartment. I have 3 floors. We can choose.”
Me, “Well, that certainly seems more enticing than humping my pillow.”
Darcy, “Is that what you do?”
Me, “Yes. Of course. But I would prefer having unprotected sex with Mr. Darcy. If you can quote the book, I will let you cum inside of me.”
Darcy stopped, “Are you fucking with me right now?”
Me, “No, actually. Of course we can’t have unprotected sex but, I would love to feel you inside of me.”
Darcy pulled back a little and nervously took a swig, “You are just trying to throw me off my game.”
I coolly leaned back. The nights were warm, even just before dawn.
Me, “Now, Mr. Darcy, why would I do that?”
He leaned back to take in all of me, then he crawled his head in for a kiss. My stomach exploded in rainbows and butterflies. The plump lips roamed over my mouth and a dose of dopamine crawled down my neck and fed directly into my pounding heart.
I leaned back and caught the Norwegian producer watching us. He smiled.
I was sitting next to my Czech suitor and didn’t want to be rude, so I leaned back and licked the chase of lime from around my mouth.
Darcy leaned in and whispered, “I want to be inside of you and cum all over . . . inside of you.”
I smiled, “Do you?”
Darcy breathed a heavy, “Yes.”
Me, “Good talk.”
Darcy, “Great talk” and turned away, but quickly turned back around and leaned in. He kissed me again, once with the flicker of Jane Austen fantasy, then again he consumed me. My head was in the clouds. He smelled good and I could feel his hand on the cusp of my neck.
I wanted him.
I pulled away, again self conscious of audience, high on his taste.
The Norway producer said, “Come on, David. Time to go home.”
I stiffened, “Oh. Gosh. Bummer.”
The Norway producer smiled as he took Darcy by the arm and led him away. Darcy stumbling, smiled back at me.
Czech and I walked towards the beach together.
I said, “The other night, some Americans said I have bad posture. Do you think so?”
Czech, “I was watching you and thought you kind of looked like the raven from those old Looney Toons cartoons when you are trying to hear other people talk.”
We sat on a bench across from the ocean and he kissed me. It was nice . . . but it was no, Mr. Darcy.
I said, “Well, I would love to make love to you on the beach but I have got to be heading back.”
Now, I really shouldn’t have said that. After teasing Darcy with all my little dirty little fantasies, no one was here to drag Czech away.
He said, “Why not? We can do it here on the beach.”
I said, “There are security guards.”
He started talking fast, talking fast about what he was doing with his company, the state of the film industry and wanting to fuck me. It was exhausting, especially drunk at 5am.
He led me in a parking garage and suggested we do it behind a small sign.
He laid down the coat and I said, “Everyone could see us.”
He lowered me down and said, “Come on. No one will. Except maybe a security guard, and he will probably just want to join in.”
I stopped him. That was almost hot. But now I could see his American influence. He was definitely an American boy in Europe. He was working too hard for it, almost desperate, and not intuitive in the least.
I stopped him and stood up, “No, I don’t feel right about this.”
Then, a couple walked down the stairs and passed us. I motioned towards them, with my eyes large, “See!”
We walked out and I had to pee badly, so he guarded as I relieved myself in the bushes by the red carpet.
I said, “I really do have to head back. I have the breakfast shift this morning.”
We walked towards the bus stop and he asked to come back with me to the residence.
I said, “No, you can’t come back. I can’t let anyone back.”
He said, “Come on, yes you can. I used to be in the program, no one cares.”
I said, “I care.”
It was almost 6, so the buses would be approaching any minute for their first runs out into the city.
There, waiting for the bus with Czech, I fell in love with a British man named Alex.
Out of place and sudden as it was, I fell in love with a stranger. We had a brief banter about America and his suggestion that it was inferior to the UK.
He played with me a little, as Czech patiently waited for the bus and followed me back to the residence like a puppy dog.
As I got off the bus, I looked at Alex and said, “Bon Jour.” He smiled.
Czech quickly joined a small group of people he knew returning to the gated residence and followed them in, promising to call me after my breakfast shift and take me back to his place, cook me breakfast and make love to me. OK, but how was I going to find Alex again?
Exhausted, I reluctantly agreed though I knew I would spend the rest of the day avoiding his calls. Then, I joined my co-workers for the breakfast shift just as the sun took flight.
A Co-Worker, “How are you?”
I said, “I am in love.”