Saturday, November 20, 2004

Roommate Love Life

When Things Were Red

Not satisfied by our fake love life, my roommate has started dating--our fake coupledom is in danger.

With the landlords living next door, any man or woman that comes to the apartment is suspect. Matt and I imagine M et Madame Monnaie at their peephole, spying to uncover goodnight kisses. We think there might even be a minute camera installed in the light fixture over the bed. The Monnaies huddle around the small and dim black-and-white TV, which has a live feed to the apartment next door, waiting. In reality, they've never seen us so much as hold hands. That's right. We don't look like lovebirds come to nest at 41, Rue du Temple.

My friends are safe enough; they don't pose any problems. Most of them are gay men, and the ones who aren't turn out to be. (After I spent five minutes prodding them about their past relationships, to my great surprise, my two new straight friends came out to me at Pizza Hut. I mumbled something containing the word "cool" and presented them with my Gay Friendly Card.)

Matt's friends, well, it's a different story altogether. They're straight. They're girls. They range in ages from 20 to 26. He's had three love interests so far, only one of which has made it back to the apartment.

Have I mentioned the apartment? It's small; Matt and I share two rooms. He sleeps on the uncomfortable bed and I sleep on the more uncomfortable futon. The walls are thin. We know when Bastien next door finishes his homework, when the couple upstairs fights, and when the man across the way keeps time to classical music. If I can hear the footsteps of nocturnal neighbors on the landing, I can certainly hear whispers and giggles from the next room.

Circa week three, Matt grew restless. He began to pursue not only women he met in the flesh, but also those who'd posted profiles on the internet. The first was Mary Ann, a Kentucky girl participating in the English Assistantship program here in Paris. She's writing her Master's thesis on something about women patrons of art in the Middle Ages. According to Matt's description, she was a genius. He was intimidated by her cool and her learning.

I met Mary Ann one evening at a local cafe. Learning aside, she's the type of girl who believes everyone is staring at her. She sat back in her chair, chest out and lips pursed, drinking a Jack Daniel's. She tossed her hair about like a porn star and spoke about spending her days in the churches' tombs. She drew circles in the air with her cigarette, musing about her relationship with the cold stones. When speaking of her relationships with men, however, she was more concrete. She scoffed at the idea of having been dumped by a bald man: "Me! I mean how pathetic can you get?" Though Matt's far from balding, his interest began to taper off. By the end of the night, he bailed and chalked Mary Ann up to his list of Friends, But Nothing More. She still sends him text messages addressed to Ladykiller.

Girl number two, Suzanne, is the only French woman of the bunch. Matt and I met her at an International Gathering, which is apparently synonymous with Lonely Club. A few Italian businessmen had rented out a bar in the Marais and told their friends to spread the word. By the time the word reached us, we didn't know the details, but this didn't stop us from dressing up and heading over to Place des Vosges.

We soon found ourselves sharing a cocktail with Suzanne and Marc. Suzanne and Matt hit it off, and I was soon left with thirty-something Marc drooling in my wine. I took Suzanne's number before we left, dodged Marc's efforts to win mine, and a week later, Matt and I were invited out with Suzanne.

Matt's efforts to move in on Suzanne were thwarted that night by Nathan, a Frenchman with a cool t-shirt. Hanging out with a somewhat older crowd, Matt and I had the distinct impression they were babysitting us. He gave up immediately and never had the occasion to sing the song he wrote her in her native tongue: (translated) Suzanne, you are pretty, my name is Matt, I love you, let's make out, on Emily's bed.

Girl number three? Jeannette. A plucky twenty-year old studying at the American University in Paris and a MySpace afficionado. Her past relationships include a thirty-something who ran away with Cirque du Soleil. Though Matt had previously discouraged me from pursuing a coworker of mine because he was twenty (and as it turns out, gay), he soon expanded his limits so that Jeannette was fair game.

After their first outing, Jeannette became a significant telephone presence in the apartment. I can't say I know what they talk about--Matt either goes on walks or shuts himself in the kitchen--but it will suffice to say that this happens at least twice a day. So I began to pry. Made a strong case against dating twenty year-olds. Then, one evening, a phone call around 2:30am led to Jeannette hailing a cab over to 41, Rue du Temple. Luckily, it was past M et Mme Monnaie's bedtime.

Having gone to bed only a few minutes prior, the picture of uncomfortable, I fell asleep to whispering, giggling, heavy breathing and Oh Matts. In that order. (Matt denies this, but believe me.) When I walked through the room the next morning to get breakfast in the kitchen, I saw them: not just Matt and Jeannette, but Jeannette's two stuffed animals. (Matt does not deny this.)

While wandering around the Pompidou that afternoon, Nicolas and I discussed the various implications of the stuffed animals. Could it be cute in some form or fashion? Perhaps. But it brought the reality of Jeannette's age into the spotlight. We agreed that after some time, stuffed animals may be introduced into the picture. Relics of childhood, they bring with them good stories and can be endearing. But what are the implications when their appearance coincides with the First Kiss? This was starting to resemble a Sex in the City episode.

But alas, the tale ends there. The little duck and lion haven't come over since. Claiming heartbreak, Matt speaks with Jeannette often, but they've seen very little of each other. The other day, they had a conversation about the difficulties of relationships, and about how neither one of them is ready for the Next Step.

Plus, the circus is in town. You know what that means. Popcorn, clowns, and Jeannette's ex.

Perhaps it's for the best. After all, when they left the apartment that famous morning after, they went quietly into the hall, Jeannette with her hood up, dodging the landlords. Matt and I think they're suspicious of us. But for now, we're safe.


At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Wanderer said...

"Suzanne, you are pretty, my name is Matt, I love you, let's make out, on Emily's bed."

That made me spill my coffee! :)

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Virgil the Pilgrim said...

musing about her relationship with the cold stones. When speaking of her relationships with men, however, she was more concrete.

that was brilliantly well done.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger joy suzanne said...

I wandered over from Sam de Bretagne, so I'm just poking through your archives. So funny.


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