How I Met My Frenchman

Me, looking awesome as Link from the Legend of Zelda. Admit it: you want my shield.

I imagine most of you don’t care to hear this story, but someone asked and I thought, “Why not? It’s not the most terrible story ever.” Plus, I have super sparse internet right now (like, only when I’m at a coffee shop), and this seemed like an easy enough post. 😉

Once upon a time…

Ha. Just kidding. It all happened one fall Friday when I was in graduate school for marine science. My department was hosting a costume party, and I was dressed up as Link (from the Legend of Zelda).

I looked pretty BAMF with my home-made shield and costume (or I sure thought I looked BAMF…though I didn’t win the costume contest), and an hour or so into the party, I was a wee bit tipsy and being quite the social butterfly—something I normally am not.

As I sat talking to a fellow grad student at the bar where this party was hosted, a young man in a Hawaiian shirt with a camera around her his shirt entered the bar.

Dang, I thought. He’s hot.

His eyes slid to mine, and feeling bold, I held his gaze…and then gave him a little half-smile before returning to my conversation.

But I kept my sights on him all evening, and I could tell he was doing the same for me. We kept circling closer and closer until finally—somehow—we were next to each other. It would seem he was at the party with a French PhD student, Chris.

Chis  had recently done a presentation on cave shrimp in the Mediterranean, so I started speaking to him about it (Oh, Chris, your presentation was SO fascinating! Don’t you get scared cave-diving? Do you miss France?) and soon enough—as I’d hoped all along—I was introduced to Chris’s handsome friend.

Turned out he was French too. He and Chris had met the week before when they’d both wound up at the same bar in search of the same French rugby game on TV. My Frenchman had graduated from his master’s program a year before—he was now an engineer working at a Canadian branch of his company.

Ungh, not gonna lie, guys. I thought the whole “I’m educated” thing was so sexy.

Plus the French thing didn’t hurt.

As I chatted with him, I learned he and Chris almost hadn’t come to this party. But then my Frenchman had convinced Chris they might as well (they had nothing better to do), so they’d both scrounged up some Hawaiian shirts and cameras…

And come to the party as American tourists. (Insert Sooz’s blushing face here.)

Well, me and the cute Frenchman started chatting and chatting, and somehow I didn’t scare him away with my inanely STUPID questions about France. I wound up inviting him to a second Halloween party on actual Halloween night—and I gave him my email address (I never give out my phone number. Like NEVER).

We exchanged a few emails over the course of the next few days, and I tried not to giggle at all the English words he mixed up (example: “I need to iron my skirts before the party, but I can pick you up.” Clearly, he meant shirts).

So then, Halloween night, he arrived to pick up me and a friend of mine (kind of like the phone number withholding, I also NEVER go anywhere alone with strangers). Well, me and this Frenchman flirted for hours and hours and hours at that party…

And then I found out at around 3 AM that that he lived AN HOUR AWAY. He had driven an hour to pick me up and take me to this party. Plus, he had work at 8 the next morning and still had an hour drive ahead of him.

I decided then and there, that he was a keeper. Also, the fact that he not only liked but also KNEW a lot of operas and symphonies just sealed the deal. At that point, I was in a huge opera-obsessive phase (it was literally all I listened to), so the fact that he could carry on a conversation with me about Rossini kinda made him a total hunk in my eyes.

We agreed to go out again a week later (to a local art museum).

So, we spent A MONTH AND A HALF of just going on dates, and he never made a move. He drove an hour to see me almost every single day, yet he never tried to kiss me. We cooked meals together, we saw movies and shows and museums together, and still no kiss. We flirted like mad, and yet I started to actually worry maybe he wasn’t into me and he just wanted a friend?

And then one day in December,  on a day when we had plans to go to the Nutcracker, the Frenchman and I were in my kitchen cutting vegetables for an elaborate sandwich. Seemingly out of nowhere, he asked (in the most nervous, tight voice EVER), “In the US, if a person wants to date someone, what do they have to do?”

“Uh,” I stammered, heat EXPLODING on my face, “you just tell the other person that…that you like her. Usually the guy will say it first, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The girl can say something. Or…or they can just kiss.”

“Oh. It’s not like that in France.”

And I had no words. I was too stunned and scared and excited and totally confused to even speak about it. I wanted him to kiss me so bad, but I seemed absolutely incapable of making the first move.

Then we went off to the Nutcracker ballet together, went to a really exquisite dinner at a snazzy place, and then finally got back to my house…

And he asked, “Is it okay if I kiss you now?”

All I said back was, “Finally.”

And THAT, my friends, was that. In hindsight, I wouldn’t trade that entire anxious, no-kissing month and a half for anything. We got to know each other as people during that time—learn about each other and see if our personalities even jived at all. He knew I was kinda scatter-brained, super imaginative (sometimes paranoid and oftentimes over-the-top dramatic), obsessed with animals, and not a very good cook. I knew he was really pragmatic, incredibly dependable, unfamiliar with pets (but clearly willing to learn with my current animals), and a fantastic cook.

Plus, there were all these SIGNS. Like the fact that he was never meant to even go to Canada for work. He had been assigned to South Korea, but then TWO WEEKS before moving, his company changed their minds and sent him to Canada instead. O_O

Or the fact that of all places for him to go to watch a rugby game, he wound up in the SAME bar as this other French guy in my program. OR the fact that the other French guy had no desire to go to that fated Halloween party—and they only wound up going at the very last minute.

Heck, if I hadn’t given up on my writing dream to become a marine biologist—and then taken one class with a certain professor who ended up leaving my undergrad program to GO TO CANADA…and then inviting me there as his graduate student, I never would have met the Frenchman.

I wound up back in writing at the end of the day, so even though I loved (and still love) the fishes, I can’t help but also thank that education for putting me in my Frenchman’s path.

Anyway, that ended up being a long story that’s no doubt ooey-gooey and disgusting.

But now you all know: love at first sight CAN happen sometimes.

Also, you now know that I make one BAMF of a Link and that French people don’t necessarily adhere to the same dating rules as Americans. ;

Hubby and me in Switzerland on top of a mountain. The girl who took this picture (a good friend of mine) was SO annoyed with us--and she had just screamed for us to SHUT UP when she snapped this picture. So we're laughing. The thing is, me and the Frenchie "fight" constantly. Like literally, if he's going to say something, I will automatically disagree...and it is a non-stop back-and-forth word match that WE think is great fun. But it drives the rest of the world crazy. Ah well. At least we're happy. 😉