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I saw a headline in reference to Tom Cruise “scouting” women (applicants?) for his next official girlfriend, and instead of being grossed out, I was immediately reminded of a summer night in Paris (the dots will be connected, I assure you).
The night in question did not occur when I lived in Paris this summer, but in 2013 when I lived there to write my last book. It was halfway through my six-month Parisian stay, and my Canadian friends were joining me on some travels. We’d just returned from Brussels–which is a whole other story of crashing a Scottish guy’s bachelor party at Delirium–and with four days in Paris ahead of us before we journeyed south, we needed a nighttime fix.
Our twitchy-eyed withdrawal led us straight to Rue de Lappe in Paris’s Bastille neighbourhood.
After living in Paris twice, I would not go to Rue de Lappe again; just give me a quiet wine bar, or a hole-in-the-wall with surprising cocktails and I am a happy lady. If, however, there are four of you, and one of you broke your toe in Brussels (ahem), which means you’re looking for a dozen options within a five-minute limping stroll, Rue de Lappe is the place for you.
When you’re on this street you must relax your usual standards, otherwise you’ll freak at the first sight of “El Rancho Dominicano,” a bar façade covered in fake green bushes, where the doorway is kind of like this hole you have to huddle into, a pathway that may or may not lead to a militant jungle environment you’ll never come out of alive. There was no way in hell I’d be huddling into some plastic bushes with a broken toe. Well, actually…we did go inside out of sick curiosity. More leaves, extremely dark, people giving you weird looks I interpreted as “did you bring the drugs?”…we didn’t stay.
Luckily we found a dive bar thirty seconds up the street, “Le Bar à Nenettes.” It was nothing amazing but I didn’t mind it; just wooden tables, affordable drinks (by Parisian standards), and a lot of French locals which I always find comforting. What ensued was a few rounds of drinks, many utterances of “I love you guys!” and then of course, all of us freaking out about finding food before the eating establishments closed. This is one thing I find forever annoying about Paris; why is it so hard to find something to eat once you leave the bar?! What do you French soak your alcohol with? Your snobbery?! Just kidding, French people are really nice; whoever made up that snobbery stereotype is basically an asshole. Nevertheless, I don’t understand how the French avoid getting hangovers when I never see them eating after the bar. I’ve asked them too and they just smile at me all coy, those withholding bastards.
Anyway, we got lucky; there was this Mexican joint down the street serving food for another twenty minutes. I am unable to tell you if the food was any good, due to being intoxicated and therefore having no standards.
What I DO remember is the guy that looked like Tom Cruise (see, I told you I’d connect the dots!).
We were still on this street, wandering at some unknown hour, when a trio of guys approached us. They must’ve been moved by our luscious Canadian accents, as two of them were American and the third one British, with generous smiles all around. I wasn’t the least bit interested, but when I’m amped up with alcohol I ask a lot of questions. Which led to this: how do you guys know each other? Oh, you’re staying at the same hostel? Cool. How long are you guys here for? Actually I’ve stopped listening ’cause I got bored; yeah, I’m just saying random things now. Wait, did one of you just say that people say you look like Tom Cruise???
Yes, he did. Item one: he did not resemble Tom Cruise. And yet, it wasn’t one of those things where he was drunk and making crazy claims; like he truly believed it and showed us his drivers’ license photo as further evidence. Being myself and having very little social filter, I laid out his delusion before him. His reply? “I don’t look like Tom Cruise NOW, I look like Tom Cruise from the early days!” Ohhhh I get it, you have outdated hair and your shirt is tucked into your jeans; okay cool let me take off my clothes now, since I’m so excited that I can’t even handle myself. I said some variation of this out-loud, but only after he claimed he’s the friend from his group who gets asked out the MOST, on account of this mystical Tom Cruise resemblance. How’s that workin’ out for you, Top Gun? I definitely said this out-loud. I may be a horrible person.
The second guy was pretty generic so let’s move on to guy number three, this adorable guy from England. My friends and I could immediately tell he was young, which officially removed him from consideration. It’s weird; like when a man finds out a girl is nineteen, he will probably hit that shit. But when three women discover a “MAN” is only nineteen? They will treat him like a fucking baby. For fun. “You’re so cute! Look at your little dimples! Look at your adorable sweater!” These were my friends, and boy-wonder was loving the attention. I was feeling left out from offering all this innocent affection, so I thought I’d join in too: “Do you still get breast-fed on a daily basis?” They looked at me like I was crazy. So I tried to clarify: “Is there someone here who can burp you? Should we ask?”
For some odd reason none of my comments landed like I’d hoped, and as we went our separate ways, I was certain boy-wonder was relieved to be rid of us forever.
But THEN….the next day….far from Bastille…my friends and I were wandering down Rue Galande in the Latin Quarter, which was near my apartment at the time. We were specifically there to visit an independent jewelry shop, as my friend has this thing for buying a pair of earrings in every city she visits. So there we were, leaving the shop, and who should stroll right past us?
British boy wonder!
I couldn’t remember his name so I simply cried: “Hey! You’re that kid!” He smiled but there was a look of terror in his eyes, and that’s when I knew I had to do it. So I stared at my feet, sheepishly, and apologized for the previous night, when I’d suggested that he still gets breast-fed by his mother. He laughed it off like it was nothing, but he finally had some colour in those boyish cheeks of his, so I knew I’d made a difference in his life, by at last saying sorry for my blatant ageist comments. After that, we marvelled at the sheer coincidence of our run-in, we invited him to our upcoming picnic that night, and one of us even became friends with him on Facebook (not me, of course), a superficial friendship that lasts to this day.
It was one of those magical moments that Paris is so full of; that beautiful random quality where destiny sometimes brings two people together on the cobblestoned streets, only this time the singular purpose of this force was to have me apologize for humiliating a male adult.
At least you have the benefit of blaming alcohol. I’m typically “filterless,” and often say horrible things without additional liquid encouragement. I am however, an equal opportunity offender.
Equal opportunity offensiveness is so important to me!
You are so funny
Thank you, I appreciate that!