Bon Soir Mademoiselle.
The man holding the door smiles at Sally and makes a sweeping gesture with his hand as she steps inside the restaurant. Welcome. He’s of course handsome, tall, dark hair, casual white shirt open enough to reveal a few dark chest hairs. She opens her scarf and begins to unbutton.
Shall I, he says, in French, already his hands on her shoulders ready to retrieve her coat. Oh those French men, she can never tell if their attention is genuine or carry undertones of flirtatious mockery. Even so, she enjoys the sensuous carefree interaction and being seen and treated as a woman. She points to a table towards the back. For privacy for her and Rick. The waiter nods, walks ahead and pulls the chair out for her. What can I serve you? He asks. She asks for the menu.
Café de Flore at St Germain close to Notre Dame seemed an appropriate place to meet. Anais Nin and Henry Miller surely enjoyed a few private interludes here, or maybe not, maybe it was a regular hangout for all those early 19th century artists and hedonists, whose creative – and love lives – people like Sally envy. Cafe de Flore is classic interior, kept in beige and greenish tones, nothing sexy actually, but that was fine, there was no need to start off on a too suggestive note with Rick. First things first.
Rick arrives and enters the cafe, windblown as if in from a storm. She waves at him. He waves back, nods to the waiter that he’s with her and walks over. He’s taller than expected. Fresh red cheeks. Blue eyes. Blond hair, short but unruly. She likes that. A bit of unruly. She gets up. They give each other a clumsy hug across a chair. A lot of words spill out of each their mouths. So nice to finally meet you. I can’t believe we are here. Doing this. They sit down and just look at each other. The waiter hovers in their corner of the Cafe, winking at her and awaiting her next need. Little nervous giggles arise from Sally’s chest. Rick’s mouth smiles, then fall back to neutral, almost serious. Sally takes a deep breath, notices he’s got a few freckles around his nose and tries to relax her shoulders. What’s with this nervousness, she wonders.
So… we’re here. It does feel a bit strange, doesn’t it?” She tries to break the ice.
Yes, I’m surprisingly nervous, Rick chuckles. This is definitely a first for me.
She likes he’s honest like that. But it’s also exciting, Sally says. What we will create and make of this month? She pushes the menu across the table. Have a look, let’s eat, have some wine, we need the sustenance.
He looks as if he does speak some French. She doesn’t, but she likes it that way, not fully understanding, that way the language becomes music and she’s free to feel it, imagine it or not.
How was your trip over? Have you been here before?
They exchange information on their flights, Rick’s never been to Paris before, he lives in Brooklyn New York, but is originally from some state in USA she’s doesn’t know, What’s with the politics, Sally wants to know? A great reason for Rick to get his Trump angst off his chest, even if he’s not sure Hillary is the better option.
Their meals arrive, the red wine goes down, as they share snippets of their lives, families, careers, all the while, dancing around the real reason for being in Paris, together, as if none of them knows how to open that chapter, just yet.
Sally points to the desert menu. Shall we indulge?