It took me three days to come up with a witty and grammatically correct text to send to Scrappy Bathroom Boy (not the best nickname I realize), the guy I’d met at the Prescription Cocktail Club last Saturday. Why is it so hard to find my personality in this language? I wondered as I made revision after revision of the message in French. Finally, on Tuesday, I trashed my drafts and went for something simple and direct: “It was nice meeting you. Sorry, I just wasn’t up for the late night thing last Saturday, but would have liked to join you and your friends. If you want, maybe we can get a drink sometime this week.” Phew! My heart raced as I sent it off. I couldn’t help holding back a smile at the thought of finally going on a date. When was the last time I had been on one? It had to be early November with American Boy. November. Jesus.
It wasn’t until Friday that I realized Scrappy Bathroom Boy hadn’t responded to my text. Naturally, I was pissed off, but I was also at least grateful that I hadn’t over-obsessed about a guy I don’t even know. I hesitated over what to do next. Text again? Just let it go? Or … I shuddered in terror … call him?
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, Big deal! It’s just a phone call!. My friends, this is not just a phone call. This is a phone call in a foreign language in which I’m lucky enough to sound like a mildly intelligent 7-year-old (on a good day). Trying to impress and entertain someone with a prepubescent vocabulary isn’t easy.
In my experience, phone calls in French tend to sound like this: “Euhhhouiouiaslkduawoigjafkgandak;serflka;lskdgjadlfj.”
And, phone calls in English with French people: “Euhhhouiouiaslkduawoigjafkgandak;serflka;lskdgjadlfj.”
Every time my land line rings, I hide under the covers because it’s always awful telemarketers who manage to take advantage of my confusion, keeping me on the line in an attempt to convince me that it’s concerning something very serious. The worst was the one time my internet went out and I had to call the cable company, which went something like this: “Uhh oui … le thingy avec le router, je ne sais pas le mot en français pour router … problème uhhh.” Not exactly the type of dialogue I want going on with a boy I’m crushing on.
In any case, I gathered up my courage and made the call. On the second ring, a female voice answered. Female?! What? Bastard!
“Allô?” she said.
“Uhh … hi. Can I speak to [Scrappy Bathroom Boy]? Is this his number?”
“No. This is Marianne’s cell phone. I think you’ve dialed a wrong number.”
In French, one way to say a wrong number is to tell the person that they’ve made a faux numéro. A false number. A fake number. That’s certainly how it felt when I hung up. I had a feeling from the second I took Scrappy Bathroom Boy’s digits that something was off. He’d spoken so quickly in French that I knew I may have gotten it wrong, but had been too embarrassed to double check it and seem like I didn’t know how to count or couldn’t remember what the word for 96 was. Probably most French 7-year-olds know that one.
On Saturday, Sarah and I went back to the Prescription Cocktail Club, where I hoped I might see him again. Alas, no appearances by SBB. Oh, well. I would ordinarily be disappointed by the whole thing, but I’m actually distracted by something new! Later this week, I’m being set up on a double date. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend Sam mentioned that her boyfriend was looking to fix up a buddy, and I, of course, said I was interested, but didn’t actually think the fix-up would ever happen. In my experience, every time I’ve asked for a friend to set me up, or someone has mentioned a good potential mate for me, the planning somehow never happens. But as luck would have it, Sam was quite serious, and followed up about it a few days ago. What I know so far about this mystery man sounds good: French, has a grown-up job, late 20s, “seems cute,” according to Sam, who has seen a kind of blurry photo of him.
Finally! Someone throws me a bone. Who knows—could be a disaster. But for the moment, I’m feeling pretty excited and hopeful. Will let you know how it goes!
Original by Leonora Epstein