Saturday morning, 1045AM, I'm early for the French-English Conversation group on rue Sebastopol, I'm happy, it's a beautiful Saturday morning in Paris. 1046AM, my cell phone rings. It's Pierre. "Come over" are the two words I hear. Was it a question or a command?
"I'm at the school right now, I will be finished at 1230." I reply to silence, no response. "Hello?", Is he still on the phone I wonder as I push the codes to open the door to the school lobby. "Okay after okay." he says, "Okay", I agreed committing myself to visit his apartment right around the corner from the school. Immediately I planned to pick up a few more of my things that I had left at his apartment before I returned to Colorado last year.
The French-English conversations were interesting as usual. Our group discussed French architecture, sports and skiing in the alps. We also talked about Japanese architecture from the perspective of the one Japanese girl in our group.
As the conversation group ends, I help Adrian re-arrange the rooms, close the windows, tidy up the kitchen and file the sign-in sheets.
"Okay Adrian (my boss, in case you are just now reading my blog: http://www.adrianleeds.com/) I'll see you later." I say as I plan to visit Pierre. "What? Where are you going? Aren't you coming with me to get the lanterns like we talked about?" she asked puzzled that I was rushing off.
I forgot. I had made plans earlier in the week to go with her to pick up lanterns for one of her properties. Interesting, because, right about now, I could use a lantern to shed some light on why I bother with men like Pierre.
"Oh, I uh..." I mumbled, "What? What do you have planned?" she wanted to know."Oh, uhm I uh, well I was going to meet Pierre?" I managed to explain. "Pierre?"she asked puzzled even more that I would mention his name. "Yeah, I know..." I said, knowing that she and I both know he's not the best French man for me to spend time with.
"Well, call him and tell him you've made other plans!" She says, in the tone of a Jewish mother, but in a way that I know is for my own best interest.
"Can I meet you at the lantern shop?, No, wait, Can you just wait for me here, or How about....." I can't can't decide what to do and I don't know what to say as she looks at me, waiting for me to speak a complete sentence.
Patiently, she asks, giving me time to collect my thoughts "What do you want me to do?"
"Why don't you come with me to Pierre's place? I will just pick up a few of my things and then we can leave." I reply, since I did not have healthy intentions for being at Pierre's apartment in the first place. "Okay" Adrian replied, "...that way, I'll keep you out of trouble!" How did she know? I wondered. Instinctually she knew it was not a good idea for me to see him alone. He messes me up.
We walk around the corner to Pierre's apartment. I rang the buzzer, "Ah-low!" his voice sings over the outside speaker. "It's me, Florence..." I speak to the intercom. The door clicks unlocked. "I have Adrian with me.." I announce to him as Adrian and I walk through the lobby entrance. I hurry ahead to make sure he heard me.
He's standing outside his door at the top of the 5th floor, waiting. I told him again that Adrian was with me. "Oh non!" he moans, turning around sharply, shaking his hand in the air, mumbling "ola-la-la-la-la-la". He does that when he's angry. I quickly look down the stairs and ask Adrian to wait in the hall.
At this point, I'm thinking Pierre thinks I'm stupid and my boss must think I'm crazy. I'll just get my electric kettle and leave.
Adrian waits one flight below, as Pierre marches back to his front door asking where is Adrian? I said, "She's going to wait outside." He insists that if she is already inside the building, then she must come inside the apartment. He shakes his head no, still waving his hand in the air and walks away again. Adrian waits outside, as I follow Pierre inside and tell him that I just want to get my kettle and I will see him later. "Non! non!" Pierre insists, "Come in, come in, sit down!" He returns to the front door for the third time and invites Adrian inside. I stand behind his back, waving my hand shaking my head, non! Adrian, politely says, "No thanks, I'll wait outside." Pierre insists that she come inside as he moves me aside with one hand to allow her to enter.
She enters. They speak in English first then French. She makes him laugh, he likes her immediately, I can tell. "Is she good with your business?" Pierre asks Adrian. "Yes, very good." she replies. Pierre smiles proudly. "With me she is not very good." he comments. "Only at night Pierre, I am not good for you, but in the day time, I'm very good." I correct him.
"She is like an Indian woman, she is untouchable..." Pierre tells Adrian. She smiles and , as I open my mouth, just as a mother would say, she says "Okay. Enough!"
Pierre, "I'd like to get my kettle and then we are going to leave." I tell him. He looks as if he doesn't understand any English. "My kettle, the electric pot for water." I explain. "Oh, oui, yes, go and get it from the kitchen."
"You mean the kettle I gave you? Is that the kettle you're talking about?" Adrian asks, sounding like my mother again asking if I gave away her good jewelry. I opened Pierre's cabinet, and there were three kettles in the cabinet, I didn't remember which one was mine. Just as I started wondering, how many other women had left their kettles with him, I hear from the living room, "That's it! That's it right there! Yep, that's the kettle I gave you!" Adrian yells as I reach for the kettle on the top shelf. She really reminds me of my mother. How could she see what I was doing from across the room?
Pierre and I spoke briefly as Adrian led us to the door. I watched his eyes follow her body to the door. Is he really "checkin' out" my boss with me standing right here? I wondered. As we walked out his front door, he said, 'You're friend is a very good woman!" She's my boss, Pierre, not my friend." I replied, in a way to remind him to respect her as my boss. "Ah, but she is not my boss-She is only a woman to me." he quipped back.
"Not yet!" Adrian replied, almost before he finished his remark.
Pierre's jaw dropped, he laughed, and Adrian was gone.
He kissed me on both cheeks, I walked down the 5 flights of stairs to find Adrian waiting outside the building. "Let's go get the lanterns." she said. I left with Adrian to find the light...