Wednesday, February 20, 2013

He is a tourist. She is a holidaymaker. I, am a TRAVELLER. Part 2.

Here's the second instalment in my cliffhanger series of travel tales.

The first one is back here.

His name was "Pierre".

As I may have alluded to before, when I was 20, my Dad and I embarked on an odyssey to the Old Country (ie. Ireland) for about 8 weeks at the end of the year 2000.

It was a wonderful trip, but I would be lying if I didn't say by the end of it, I was FAIRLY keen to get away from the old fellow for some ME TIME.  The plan was that on the way home, he and I would fly together to Frankfurt where we would then part ways, at which point he would go back to Oz and I would continue on to spend a week in Paris staying with my cousin D and his lovely wife I.

I know.  The excitement!

Paris at the turn of the new millennium was everything my youthful heart could have hoped for.


Paris just being all Parisian.  Look at the Parisian-ness of it all!  Skating, coats, ice rink, noice old building, etcetera.  
I more or less spent every day walking around the city by myself. I would whack on my Docs, kit up in my weird black coat and traipse around feeling like I was in a novel. Instead of lumping my backpack around everywhere, my cousin gave me a handbag to carry, so I didn't look so much like a tourist.  This convinced me that I looked EXACTLY like a Parisian person.

This is me on the left out at some bar getting my Paris on with my cousin and his wife I. I am pretending to be sophisticated and drinking some sort of cocktail arrangement. Yeah, I am so cool and relaxed with the whole being in Paris thing. I was just like Amelie, in that movie called, um, Amelie.  
It didn't take me long at all to start feeling like I could totally understand and speak French too!

I would nod and answer questions from shop assistants and train conductors by smiling and waving my hands around, repeating "Oui, oui! Camembert, cafe au lait, Pepe le Pew!!" or something similar until they left me alone, shaking their heads, leaving me smugly convinced I was a natural.

Once, a French person even stopped me and asked for directions! I TOTALLY BLENDED IN I WAS SO EFFING FRENCH!

One day I was walking back to the train station after having a successful day at the January sales.  I was swinging my Euro-tat filled shopping bags and practically skipping along the path outside the Louvre. I know, the Louvre! SO COOL!

Here's the ole pyramid thingoes outside the Louvre, with some GENUINE PARISIAN PEOPLE walking about.  SO COSMOPOLITAN!
Yeah so I was skipping along outside the Louvre feeling very French indeed when I saw a young guy across the road.  He looked like your typical French 1990s dude, deck shoes, pale Jerry Seinfeld jeans and an earnest expression.

I tried finding a picture of a similar young man in Paris but when I Googled "Young man in Paris" I only got these pictures...tee hee hee hee...


[Photo source]


[Photo source]


[Photo source]
He didn't look like that.

Anyway as I walked past, he caught my eye, and dashed across to me as I clumped along the cobblestones. I tried to ignore him.  I know, such good manners and sophistication! I was doing my antipodean family proud.

He waved, and fell in next to me, pointing to his watch and asking me a question in French.  Because of how we were in France, and all. Ha.

I guessed he was using the time honoured trick of asking a lady for the time of day in order to strike up a conversation. Probably so he could, like, steal my purse or something.  I was ONTO HIM!

 I shook my head and said the only French I knew - "I'm sorry. I don't speak French."  Well schooled by my over protective and cynical Aussie mother about the danger of Foreign Men in Strange Cities, I furrowed my brow at him discouragingly, and marched along the street, swinging my bag higher and more aggressively and clomping ever faster in my huge boots.

Just another picture of Paris.  Those crazy Parisians with their Arc de Triumph and their cars and their relaxed road rules.  
Not discouraged, he sped up and kept pace with me, this time speaking enthusiastically in English.  He asked me where I was from, and I grudgingly admitted "Australia".

"Aha!" he exclaimed. "But, mah gerrrrlfrrend, she hess jerst left to leev in Australie! She will be studying in Canberra."

Oh yeah, I thought to myself.  Right. What a coincidence. I'll bet she is.  Pfft.

I smiled wanly at him and strode on.

"My name, eet ees Pierre," he added.

OF COURSE it is, I scoffed internally, rolling my eyes.  What a cliche.  Who did he think I was, some LOSER TOURIST??  I was practically a local.

"Meh-bee you would like to hev a coffee wis me?", he asked eagerly, smiling into my scowling face.

HOLY SHIT! I thought, suddenly panicked.  If text lingo had been invented back then I would have been thinking OMG and WTF.

Why is he asking me this!? Oh crap he is totally going to KILL ME AND STEAL MY PASSPORT! What do I do?

He continued talking as we walked and questions ran through my head.

Surely it was wrong to have a coffee with a RANDOM STRANGE MAN who accosted me in the street outside the Louvre? 
Or was it?
 If I said no, would he, like, PUNCH ME IN THE FACE AND TAKE MY HANDBAG!?  
Why do all young men in Paris wear deck shoes?


I was in between a rock and a hard place.

Eventually I said, coolly, "Sure, OK. We can do that. Yep. No problem. Coffee. Excellent idea. Hehe. Yep. I'm down with that. Yes sirree. Coffee. Me and you. Uh huh. Let's go. Indeedy do."

He looked pleased, which freaked me out even more.  Still, I had committed myself, so we walked together to the cafe that he suggested.

We sat down at a table in the corner, and he looked eagerly into my eyes while I thought, Great, it's probably some bloody set up, he probably knows the owner and they are going to STEAL MY HANDBAG AND PASSPORT AND RAPE ME AND DUMP MY BODY IN THE SEINE, SO TYPICAL!!!! I AM NOT FALLING FOR THIS ONE BUDDY!

He ordered coffees and water.  The waiter brought them to the table and I sat nervously fiddling with the napkin until Pierre reached out suddenly and grabbed my hand.  He stroked it and said, "Meh-bee, while you are in Paris, Sarah, I can perheps be your French boyh-frahnd, oui?"

My eyes widened in horror and I snatched my hand away from his tender grasp.

TOTALLY PROOF HE WAS GOING TO DRUG ME AND KILL ME! I'D BE IN ALL THE PAPERS!  ARRRGGHHHH! WHY HAD I AGREED TO THIS FOOLISH IDEA ANYWAY!!!!!

"Um, no no, er, no, I don't think so.  No, thanks all the same, no, I don't think that's a good idea at all.  I'm terribly sorry.  Oh, is that the time? Oh no, I have to run, I have to meet my COUSIN at his HOUSE WHERE I AM STAYING and they are expecting me RIGHT NOW!"

I jumped to my feet, my arm connecting with the jug of water and sending it flying across the table, soaking my ill fated suitor's jacket.  He looked dismayed and a bit disgusted.

I stammered a hasty apology, grabbed my bag, and practically ran screaming from the cafe.

I ran all the way to the train station, and when I got back to the apartment I told my cousin and his wife the story of my near miss, between breathless tears.

My cousin's wife, Parisian born and bred, rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, French men! Pah! Zey are all the same...I cannot even eat mah lurnch in ze gardens wissout heving one try it on wis me.  Pah.  Why do you sink I married an Australian man?"

Blinking back my tears, I said "So, that was normal? He wasn't, you know, a sex pest?"

"Ah, no, zey are all ze same I tell you!" She threw her hands up in disgust.

I felt dejected.

He'd obviously seen something charming in my corduroy pants, multi-coloured boot laces and sleeveless turtleneck, and I had cruelly spurned him, panicked by my over developed sense of STRANGER DANGER and the constant burden of my hyper sensitive bullshit detector. The poor bastard.

Wonder what became of him.  I'm sure these days he's married to someone who looks like this:

[Photo source]

And they probably have children who look like this:

[Photo source]


And they presumably shop somewhere like this:

[Photo source]

He's bloody lucky he didn't become my "French boyh-frehnd" because I would have probably made him move to Queensland and shop at Aldi.

A near miss for him indeed.

Until next time my friends, au revoir!

And don't forget, never trust a man in a foreign country! Ever!  He might want to BUY YOU A COFFEE!?  The horror.

EDITED TO ADD: Linking up with Blogs and PR's Talk to me Thursday!

Blogs and PR


57 comments:

  1. Jesus, FINALLY, someone as paranoid as me! And to think people used to tell me that I had an overactive imagination.I still think strangers are out to kill me and harvest my kidneys and passport for the highest bidder.So trusting!

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    1. I blame my parents entirely. As you do. I am with you on the kidney harvesting fear. It happens, people!

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  2. Oh Good God - I would have so done the same thing, perhaps even goin got the effort of predialling the police on my phone in case he was subliminally messing with me ... are we related? x

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    1. Haha! This is an EXCELLENT idea! Next time I am chatted up by a French guy in Paris I will remember this...

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  3. Ahhh Sarah. I had a love affair with a french man. My greatest friend and lover, ever. I'll never write about it on my blog out of respect to my husband and ex-lover/boyfriends are a no go. But French men freakishly live up to their reputation of being the most romantic men on earth. I think they're just genetically mapped out to be like that. Last I heard of him, his wife did look like that {woman you pictured} and I'm sure they have since produced children like them {kids pictured}.

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    1. Ooh lala Luisa! Yes well that's as close as I ever got...I am such a noob...

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  4. Sarah, ce courrier m'a eu riant dur ! Trop drôle. Si heureux vous avez survécu à votre temps à Paris, de sorte que nous ayons pu être amusés par votre malice sauvage. Livres par pouce carré ne parlent pas français, mais je peux traduire anglais-français (avec l'aide de Google)

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    1. Oh turns out I can use Google translate too Helen! Hahaha! What is "malice wild"? Apparently you are amused by it. Something lost in translation??? Heheheheh!

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    2. Ha ha! I don't remember- It was something hilarious I'm sure- but definitely lost in translation ;)

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  5. Lol and that would be one of my drems, chatted up by a french man in Paris! I've never been and would just love to go.

    Thanks for linking up with #TUST

    Annaleis - Blogs and PR Team

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  6. Ahhh, there is something so romantic about Paris, I may even have my very own holiday romance story set in Paris! I can't wait to travel there with hubby in three years and have our own true love story!

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    1. Yes I would love to go with my hubby too, he lived there for a bit a thousand years ago so no doubt he has endless scandalous tales he hasn't told me...ha.

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  7. Sarah, you are a strange and damaged individual. I think we will be firm friends if we ever meet in person! :)
    I've been smiling reading this whole post - partly because I recognise my own paranoid self in your story. Loved it!

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    1. Ha! I promise I'm not that strange really...in person I am witty, charming and a renowned wit. Well, in my own lunchbox I am...

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    2. Also, if by damaged you mean sort of shabby chic, then I'll take it as a compliment ;-)

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    3. It was entirely intended as a compliment. Looking forward to meeting you next week! xx

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    4. HAHA I know it was you cheekster (as I call my daughter). I am nervous about meeting bloggers but also looking forward to it!!

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  8. You are a wonderful storyteller-I was laughing all the way through it! Especially the sexy French accent..

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    1. Thank you! I was worried the accent was overkill and then just threw caution to the wind, I'm crazy like that, haha!

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  9. Wonder what story Pierre tells about you ? no don't go there

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  10. Great story Sarah!!! I haven't been to Europe, just London, but wish I had, I've heard LOTS of similar stories! Especially from the Italians!! Lucky we're not all that niave, in saying that a LOT of Kiwi boys said heaps of things I should not have believed :( xxx

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  11. I can't see my reply? tell me you got it?

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  12. Hee hee - just seen it's "visible after approval" so I'm TOTES sending another one - I love yah that much :)

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    1. Hahaha! I got em all! I have moderate comments on...to get rid of spam! And in case people write nasty things. xx

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  13. oh the french accent makes me swoooooon!!! I worked with this old french guy.. (maybe in his early 50s - yup I was only 24 when I worked with him!) and he loved that my whole name was french.. and when he use to talk to me on the phone.. 'ello yvette ... oh it would make your heart jump.. his voice was so romantic!! mmmmm going to Paris in September.. can not wait to hear the accent again!


    #TTUT was here :)

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    1. So jealous you are going in Sept. So. Jealous.

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  14. OMG yes walking around Paris in shorts and a backpack is soul-destroying. I did it when I was 22 and it damn-near killed me. And I've never been known to exaggerate. You write the French accent to PERFECTION.
    I also love that all your faces have no heads. I'd never want to walk into your study in the gloaming - there must be hundred of edited photos of just 'Sarah's chopped off eyes' floating around on your computer screen. It would be quite terrifying.
    Can I just say? You're an EEEEJIT wooman. Zis Freeench man, he want only to show you ze sweeet luuuurve. You must cry watching Manu on MKR. I do. No wonder that Josie does.

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    1. I know, what the Sam Hill was I thinking! I don't watch MKR. I know. I am basically a total loser.

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  15. There's a problem with shopping at Aldi? Ahem. Makes me realise how much of a tragic bogan I am, that I've never been to these places, and never likely to.

    But at least I can live vicariously through you. :) *wanders off to read other posts*

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    1. Ness Aldi is the BUSINESS!!! I love it sick. I live in Upper Bogan (not its real name) on the GC so don't feel ashamed. Embrace the bogan I say xx

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  16. Ha ha ha - such a funny story because it is so true. French men love to flirt and be all lovey-dovey. I remember when I was in France no matter where you went or what you were wearing the men would look you up and down and 'size you up' so to speak. It didn't matter that I had my husband and daughter with me.

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    1. I just saw this comment, sorry Malinda! They are a bit like that! The dirty filthy naughty men!

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  17. Oh no!!! The poor bloke!! Stuck there with two coffees was probably thinking who is this weird chick!! I love the way your imagination ran away from you!
    Gone are the days hey... ;o)

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    1. I know, the poor bastard. I was so gauche I may as well have been wearing denim overalls and chewing on a strand of straw. HICK!

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  18. Bahaha you're hilarious! The only thing missing from this story is you smacking him upside the head with your handbag.

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    1. I totally would have if I had thought of it Tegan!

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  19. I love all of this. So funny. My favourite bit was swapping your backpack for a handbag, because I totally know the truth of this feeling.

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    1. I know right? JUST BLENDING IN RIGHT?

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  20. Ba ha ha! Brilliant post. It's always so hard to know how much of a risk to take in a foreign environment. And we wander around with so many stereotypes in our heads about places like France that it's hard to see l'arbre qui cache la forêt (wood from trees, one of the few and LEAST useful phrases I remember from many years of studying the language!) I had docs with multicoloured laces too :)

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    1. I always know how much risk to take Lara. NONE! That's right, if you're looking for a chilled out travel companion to share your ascent to Everest, then you are all barking up the wrong tree here. No risk is good risk.

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  21. Hahaha! A sex pest! Once you've had a guy wank himself off in front of you on a bus, being asked out for a coffee is sophistication itself :D

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    1. It is sophisticated. The problem is I was as unsophisticated as baked beans on toast. God knows what I would do if a real sex pest confronted me. Faint I spose

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  22. Hay at least you are able to experience life outside of Australia!

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  23. You are dag, Slapdash. A hilarious dag.

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    1. High praise indeed Madame De Boganville

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  24. Sadly when I was overseas no one wanted to pick me up, perhaps my kidneys are too small?
    Several men did try to make me spontaneously combust with their eyes when they realised the hottie with me was my husband though!

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    1. I'm going to sound like a freaky stalker but yes Lila, he is hot. I was looking at your wedding photos like a total creep. He is cute. And I must have big juicy kidneys. They bring all the boys to the yard.

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  25. I laughed out loud at the shop at Aldi part! Great post.
    Firstly, the survival of the human race is on the shoulders of the cave people that panicked that the rustle in the bushes was a lion. If they were wrong, they lived, if they were right, they'd already high tailed it...so good survival instincts, I say.
    Second, on the theory of batting averages, I don't know whether to admire them or wonder about them - I got taken to the Orangerie by one (after turning down coffee incase he was a crazy person - cos why else would he be asking me out in the middle of the day without copious amounts of alcohol first) And I didn't know it existed prior to him telling me to go there. So win-win.

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    1. Holy moly Lydia that is impressive! I should have held out for the Orangerie. Also, I think us Aussie women are so unused to men trying to be actually charming and not pawing us in a drunkenr nightclub pash that we don't even recognise it when we see it. Sigh.

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  26. Oh god Sarah I was the complete opposite of you! I would more likely have said "Make it a Chablis, Pepe LePew, and you've got yourself a deal!".

    In fact in Ireland I met a gorgeous fella in Limmerick of all places and I totally ditched my sister, her boyfriend and my friend and took off for a weekend with him at the Cliffs of Mohr. I was in heinous trouble with them all when I met them a few days later but now I'm an old woman I'm so glad I did it!

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    1. You dirty stopout Rachel. I am not one of natures risk takers it's safe to say. Every now and then I've done something vaguely out of character and when I think of those occasions now I have to lie down from the anxiety. It's exhausting living in my brain.

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Vent your spleen! You know you want to.

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