“You like SF?” was his message of introduction.
“SF?” I repeated dully. I had cited Bladerunner and Total Recall in my list of favourite films. But, as any true scientist will surely agree, one can’t come to a conclusion without ruling out all other possible hypotheses. It was unlikely, given that we both a/s/led in France, but he could have been asking if I liked San Francisco.
“Ca commence mal,” he remarked. “But maybe, if you’re tall, and a red-head, we can still salvage this…”
“Move along,” I concluded, switching screens.
And yet somehow, there we were, a few weeks later, sitting across from each other at a crowded Bellevilloise bar in north east Paris. I watched him turn his glass of beer slowly around in his hands. He had very large, strong hands. He stared at me intently.
“Well, this is kind of weird,” he said, finally.
“I’ve never met someone from on the internet before.”
“Oh, really?” I laughed feebly. “I ONLY meet people from on the internet…”
He told me about his rather unconventional upbringing. His father was some kind of left-wing revolutionary (another one! yes, I know) but also suffered from schizophrenia and was eventually doomed to roam the high seas alone in a boat, somewhere off the coast of Normandy. Or something like that. One of his two sons had rejected him completely, while the other had eventually come to forgive and even respect him for his courage and steadfast rejection of social mores.
He said he’d walk me home. We wandered slowly down the street towards my home. He wasn’t very experienced, even by my standards at the time, which were… well, not what they are now. And indeed his kisses were soft and fluttering against my lips. But his hand was more self-assured as it reached down the front of my skirt. The streets were conveniently deserted, and we were soon breathing heavily, our hearts beating faster. But my neck was starting to hurt – he was really very tall. (Hence his quest for a tall girl, I suppose. And who doesn’t love red-heads?) And I was in love with the Professor. So we decided to call it a night, and meet again on his next trip to Paris.
He was the assistant to the deputy of the Green Party, and so he had to make frequent trips to Paris with her to prepare for the upcoming elections. I met them once at the Gare du Nord, completely in awe of the deputy, a small-statured brunette with flashing dark eyes and a scarlet-lipped smile. She was rushing off to meet someone, so he and I ended up alone in a bar near the station.
“You need to get me drunk,” I advised him, trying to be helpful.
“But I don’t want to rape you,” he said, after a moment’s pause.
“What a pity,” I scoffed, taking a swig of cider.
So it didn’t go anywhere. We kept up our online correspondence. He made up for his lack of experience with a pure unadulterated lust for sex. We had that in common. Along with our love of red-heads, and science. (“Would you fuck a girl on her period?” “Of course. Do you think I want to reduce my sexual opportunities by 25%?”) We were so alike, I called him “the Clone” in my blog.
But shortly after this, I discovered I was pregnant. Very pregnant. Within a few weeks it was showing.
“I still want to see you,” he said.
“I’d rather you remember me as I was,” I told him gloomily. But I agreed to meet him for lunch one day, outside my office. He picked me up in his car. I watched him drive, his strong, sexy hands on the steering wheel, his eyes on the road. He took me to a park some distance away from my office, and we sat on a bench in a secluded little alcove, kissing and watching the children play. And he assured me that when one thinks of a person, one doesn’t see them only the way they are, or the way they were when one last saw them, but as a sort of amalgam of all the ways in which one has ever seen them. So he wouldn’t think of me like this, perched embarrassingly pregnant on his lap, or at least not only like this, but also as the girl he had kissed on the empty streets of north-east Paris the night we first met, or waiting for him outside the Gare du Nord.
His wife was also pregnant, as it happened. (Funnily enough, several of my love interests, at the time, were concurrently expecting. We were all roughly the same age, after all – the age to have babies. But he had gotten a head-start – this would be his second.) And it was around this time that, somewhat caddishly, he began to have an affair with the deputy.
I was rather shocked, I must admit. First of all, she was ancient (40). Secondly, well, she was his boss. And thirdly, she was apparently heavily into BDSM.
“You can’t imagine the things she’s shown me,” he said. “The sights I’ve seen… they are burned into my retinae forever.”
“Whatever,” I said. Not jealous at all.
“She’s jealous of you, actually,” he told me.
“Jealous of me??” I rolled my eyes. “She’s on the National Assembly, she’s a published author, and celebrated political figure, and she’s jealous of ME????”
“Yes. She remembers you from that night outside the Gare du Nord, and she’s afraid you’re going to steal me away…”
I resolved then and there to steal him away. Or at least, you know, borrow him a little. So after the baby was born and I’d gotten all that out of the way, we arranged to meet for “lunch”, at his work.
“Where’s your work?”
“…” he texted back.
“Oh right. The National Assembly.”
I needed to get through several layers of security and hand in my passport at the front desk, where he had left a press badge for me, so I could pose as a reporter. We actually did have lunch, in the buffet room surrounded by ministers. Then he took me on a tour of the building – a former palace built for Louise-Françoise de Bourbon in 1726, with vaulted ceilings and lavishly decorated halls.
“Now I’m going to take you to bed,” he announced. I stared at him, non-plussed. But there was indeed a bed in the deputy’s office.
“How can there be a bed in the deputy’s office??” I asked in amazement.
“We work day and night during election campaigns,” he explained. “So we need it. Though it’s been getting rather more use than usual at the moment, I admit…”
It didn’t feel right, though. And it was just too risky. And I had just vacated my apartment in the north-east of Paris and hadn’t yet found a tenant for it. So we decided to meet there instead, the next time we met.
I remember him bounding up the stairs behind me. He was telling me about someone having been caught with pornography on their computer – particularly shocking pornography.
“What’s shocking in porn?” I asked. “Bestiality?”
“That’s exactly what I was wondering,” he grinned. And then he pushed me up against the wall from behind, pulled up my dress and plunged his fingers into my wet pussy.
And still, even then in that empty apartment, we didn’t seal the deal. I don’t know why it was that we could never quite do it. He evidently wanted me. I just wasn’t completely sure, and he respected women too much to force the issue. Also – and this is really strange – I had a fear of seeeing men naked. So I had never seen his… equipment. But I had promised him a blow-job for his birthday. So the next time we met – at his work again – he took me to an empty meeting room, locked the door, and asked me for his birthday present.
“Wh – what do you mean?” I stammered.
“I mean get down on your knees…” he murmured, in my ear, between soft kisses.
But I just couldn’t!!
It was awful, really. I wanted to, really I did. But I was just too shy and nervous. I wasn’t a virgin or anything. I’d been carrying on a wild affair with the Professor, fucking in bathrooms and cinemas and champagne bars, and getting pregnant. (He had asked me why I took the Professor back, after he had betrayed me so shamelessly. “Unbridled sexual passion,” I told him. “You know,” he said. “That’s the only acceptable answer you could possibly have given me. And yet I do find it entirely acceptable.”) But I couldn’t take that first step with someone new, unless he forced me. And he just wouldn’t. So we didn’t.
I think I would have, in the end. But it ended so miserably. DP had discovered my affair with the Professor and was threatening to go on a rampage. So the Clone told me he had to play it safe and get out. He had a wife and two young kids and couldn’t risk a vengeful madman’s pursuit.
I deleted all his messages and told myself I didn’t really care. Of course, he tried to get back in touch, several times. On my birthday he sent me a long, heart-felt email which he said he had begun composing the day he broke things off with me. He told me how much he’d regretted his decision, how he had feared for my safety, and how cowardly he’d felt for abandoning me in my hour of need. I just rolled my eyes and hit “delete”. So I guess I really must have been quite hurt, after all.
But we were still Facebook friends. I never use Facebook, so I didn’t think to delete him there. But I just happened to log on a couple of months ago, and he sent me a message. As though nothing had happened. I wrote back briefly. Could bygones be bygones? I am SO over that little phobia I used to have. (Or am I?) But then he wanted to know. Am I a free agent now? Or is there still a jealous man in the picture?
Well, hey. How could there not be?
But before I could answer, one way or another, someone reported me for using a fake name on Facebook, and my account was frozen. So that’s the end of that, I guess.