Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oh my darling Clementine

“I’m drunk again, I am miserable” I said to myself as I walked out of the club and onto the cobbled street. “You’re going to call Ana again aren’t you?” I asked myself and my inner dialogue went as follows.

“Yes. You know I am”

“Don’t do it, no good will come of it”

“I will do the fuck what I want”.

These conversations usually took place after vodka. Especially after large amounts of vodka.

I was outside the Sens nightclub. I looked up at the corner building looking for the sign that would give away what arrondisement I was in. I thought I was in the 8th but I had no idea. I looked up, my eyes receiving light like a long aperture exposed photograph. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have my glasses. I decided to retreat to my apartment.

I got out and paid the bill when I arrived at Boulevarde Barbes. The crack whores, pimps and dealers had all gone home so it must have been very late. Perhaps it was early morning.

I walked into the kitchen and ate curry from the pot I had made the night before. I shovelled it in with a spoon, cold and gluggy. I went and sat on the toilet. Nothing. My head span. I got up walked over to the sink, turned the fawcets on and stuck my fingers down my throat. Nothing.

I turned on my notebook. And I opened my emails.

“You have no self control”

“Fuck it, why not call just once more. The last time you drink dialled she went for lunch with you the next day. Admittedly she fucked you over but she did go for lunch with you”

I had purposefully deleted her emails, her text messages and her number so that I would have not opportunity to do this. I fished through the archive inbox where I had stored one email which she sent in a group list. It had her Parisian mobile at the bottom with a line saying “You can reach me on this number…. For those of you in London, your Parisian visiting antics are GAY GAY GAY”. I laughed. I loved it when she used that term. She did it on our first date. It was a date to me. We had dinner at Brasserie Lipp on my first night in Paris. In a round about way I asked her to marry me. In a round about way she said she’d consider it.

I grabbed the house phone and dialled once. I didn’t even look at my watch. This was a greedy self indulgent act of sheer self flagellation.

“You know, even if you win her as a friend, even if you got her sexually, it proves nothing. You don’t want to be messing with this bird, she’s half batty”.

No answer. I let go.

I had sent a text message earlier that evening “Do you still not want to talk to me? I am quite lonely tonight. Felt like talking to someone”

In my mind, this text message worked. It said “hi, I am extending my hand of friendship to you if you are willing to forgive me for whatever wrong doings you may think I have done, and, I am defenceless, so why not talk to me?”

She didn’t reply. Some famous artist was having his birthday in the ground floor apartment. He had a glass hothouse which he had converted into an entertaining space. A grand piano played out popular jazz tunes and the guests sang in both French and English. Their mirth and gusto as they sang only reminded me further of my loneliness. I opened the windows and French doors to peer down at the party. It looked very elegant. Perhaps I could crash it with a bottle of champagne in hand and some lame story about being a tourist in a new city. To me, torture was not being invited to a party and having to sit outside while others played. I hated exclusion. I texted John Dioniso, who I had set up on blackberry messenger when I had first arrived.

“Are you going to go out tonight?”

“I was going to but everyone’s being such a giant pussy”

“Well, if you make me an offer I will come out”

“Wanna meet at the long hop in 30?”

“Yep. On my way.”

I stood at the bar waiting for John, I was sweating from my bike ride. I had been so enthusiastic to get out of my bedroom and onto the road that I rode as fast as I could shooting down Boulevarde Magenta not caring if a car swiped me off the road and liberally ringing my bell if anyone as much as put a foot on the bike track. The road was mine tonight. The air was cool and damp and my jacket flapped in the wind as I listened to “Jenny don’t be hasty" on my mp3.

I ordered a drink from Raoul, a person, who though I hadn’t known for long, already considered a friend. He was John’s partner in crime. And Guilhaume’s, but Guillhaume was in Slovenia. And, Jean Baptise. But he was in New York. Such was the nature of these guys. Well educated, well versed, and well travelled.

Raoul put a beer on the bar and I threw half of it down owing to the ride. I paid for it. I looked at my phone. John had replied to my message.

“In the corner coming over now”

John was wearing a tweed jacket, possibly herringbone. It was a nice jacket. White shirt. Jeans. Well groomed hair. We exchanged hellos and then I referenced a story about Clementine that I had touched on earlier that day.

John spoke.

“I know man, that was so not cool. He violated the Man Code. Did he even ask you before he went for it?”

He was referring to Thomas’ behaviour. Thomas was my cousin’s ex boyfriend who I had befriended on arriving in Paris. He and I would sit and stew and talk about women and try to help each other overcome the obstacles to getting laid. We had both recently lost women. My wound wasn’t as fresh as Thomas’. I had hooked him up with an Australian girl in the first weeks. We had gone to a party in Pere Lachaise and hooked up with some attractive girls and both of us got numbers. But neither of us had been able to close a deal. It was getting us down. He had watched Ana put me in her cross hairs and take me out. He knew Heloiz had brushed me too. He was privy to it all.

I had met Clementine at a product launch for a spaceship. Since arriving in Paris my cousin, Maria, had tried to hook me up with different women. Especially after failing with Ana. But Clementine was the first time I looked at a woman and saw something that I wanted. At four in the morning, at Le Baron nightclub, I had walked across the room where she sat with Nicholas, and plonked myself at her side. I had the confidence of having been on good terms with Owen Wilson that night so as I sat down, I was sure that she would at least be interested. I looked at her complexion, it was stunning. Her soft features beautifully French. She was a magnificent creature.

She said yes and gave me her number.

I texted her, she texted me. We negotiated and finally agreed to meet at Fete De La Musique on Thursday evening. She was going to see a band at the Bastille and I could come and meet her in a group.

I arrived, having dressed myself to look as cool as I could. I wore a Paul and Joe shirt, my new YSL frames so I could see the band, dior jeans and zegna jacket. The city was teeming with people and the crowds were thick across the entire Bastille.

Clementine picked me up at the BNP Paribas on Richard Lenoir. She was wearing jeans, sneakers and a singlet. I noticed her straight away, she had an air of elegance about her even when she dressed down. I felt stupid. She didn’t make me feel uncomfortable though. I kissed her hello and followed her into the crowd to meet her friend. We made small talk, she seemed genuinely warm and sincere.

I was very excited. I congratulated myself.

“Well Nick, it was only a matter of time. You see, you played the averages. So Ana hated your guts, so what? And Heloiz brushed you for her mother. But look what’s at the end of the rainbow.”

Clementine introduced me to her friend, Maya, and Maya’s cousin.

I thought of Thomas. My poor comrade in arms… still out there somewhere in the darkness fumbling. I was a compassionate person wasn’t I?

I blackberry messaged him: “Come on down. You will love it. It’s electric”

“Nah, probably stay home” he replied.

“C’mon, she’s got a friend.” I pleaded.

Maya’s ex boyfriend was the lead singer of the band “Hey Hey My My” on stage. I loved the name as it came from Neil Young. I loved anything Neil Young. The band played and said goodbye to the audience. Maya seemed very cute. She was a little rounder than what I liked but she had jet black eyes and a dimpled smile. Short too. But Thomas could help me here. I needed to get Clementine on her own.

We met at a bar a block from the Bastille. It was Clementine’s local bar. I ordered and paid for the first round whilst we waited for Thomas. I decided to tell Maya about Thomas, addressing both Maya and Clementine as I did.

“Thomas is a wonderful guy. You will really like him. He’s grungy like your ex boyfriend. I am not grungy. I tried it, but it didn’t work out. So anyway, you will like him. He rides a Harley Davidson too. Oh and he speaks fluent French”

I kept my tone upbeat and perky. I didn’t want any of my recent weeks negativity oozing into my conversation.

Thomas arrived. I walked him in. He took one look at Clementine. She looked back at him. My night was over. “This is Maya” I said and my heart kept saying “This is Maya…. Thomas will you please fucking look at Maya!”.

There are times in this world where you hear about raw attraction. There are times when you witness it. It’s a rare occurrence. It has happened to me. But I looked like her ex boyfriend my cousin told me. I was funny like her ex boyfriend my cousin told me. But Thomas was what Clementine wanted now. And as if the script had been written long before the play, I was ordered to play out my role.

Thomas, a known loather of public spaces, crowds and music waited for half an hour to get a second helmut in order to take Clementine on the back of his bike. My bicycle, which was her first choice before Thomas had arrived, had now become obsolete.

We agreed to meet at the top of Oberkampf. I headed off on my bike. I raced along my thoughts were sad and disjointed. “Chin up big boy, it’s not the end of the world. You will find someone else. Maybe she likes you, just wait and see. No, you saw what that was, it was raw attraction. By George, when will I have my day in the sun? It didn’t used to be this hard did it? I feel like a schoolboy again. First Ana, mad as a cut snake, then Heloiz, not interested. I throw my heart on the craps table one more time for Clementine and she’s vanished just like that. Just like that! Well well.”

My quadriceps burned and the lactate built up. I was cycling hard. I arrived on Oberkampf and ducked into some Chinese restaurant. I had three plates of dumplings, one of which took fifteen minutes to cook, before Thomas finally called me. Magnanimous, I made my way up the hill to meet the group, I tapped him on the shoulder and said he could have her.

“She likes you Thomas. It’s unfair, it’s not right. But it’s the rules of attraction” I said.

“Yeah, I thought she did but I didn’t want to say anything to you cause I thought you might be pissed. Are you okay if I go for it” he said.

“Yes” I answered. I felt like a baby seal that had been clubbed to death, what use did I have for my blubber anymore, take it.

I turned to John, the bar was full of buffoning Americans drinking tequilas. “No, he didn’t really ask for it, but what could I do? I can’t stop love” I replied.

John looked at me, shook his head.

Raoul, John and I agreed to go to Sens nightclub. I was in good spirits again. Raoul pointed to two girls at the end of the bar. They were coming with us. Two American girls from the south. One thin, one, well, heavy but not fat. Thick.

We got into a cab with John and made our way to Sens. An attractive girl with mask on lead us to ur private table. A bottle of grey goose was placed in the centre. “Here we go” I thought.

The girls danced nicely together. The larger one grabbed her friends arse, then grabbed a girl she didn’t know’s arse. I was jealous. The larger one sat on my lap. She wanted a photo. She stretched her arm out and took it. She kissed me. I tried to turn it into a frencher. I stuck my tongue out. I went slightly inside. I pulled it back into my mouth. I let her have her fun.

“I can’t do this, I will wing John and get him laid if I can but I can’t do this. I need another drink” I said to myself.

I knocked back three or four vodkas pretty quickly. I went to the bathroom on the other side of the club. I came back, the larger one was now onto the next table of guys. John danced with the thin one. She seemed nice but a little forlorn. They were both leaving Paris by Friday.

Raoul arrived after closing the bar. His good looks and charm a welcomed change. I thought he was a better candidate for fatty. A better man, person, soul. I was deeply troubled and wanted to drink dial. So I passed the baton over, wordlessly, by leaving the club and walking into the night.

“There is a story in this” I said to myself. “It has no meaning, but there is a story in this” and I looked up at the building next to me to find the sign which would tell me what street I was on and what arrondisment. I needed set the scene. “Now where were my glasses?”.

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