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Paris People #3
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

The year was 1977 in the late summer afternoon when I got on a bus at Solferino Bellechasse in the 7em. It was rush hour and the bus was so crowded that you had to hang on for dear life to the hangers swaying with the movement of the bus. Talk about close up and personal, I found myself opposite an older very attractive being of the male species. We gazed into each other's eyes without speaking for a few bus stops. A steady knowing mutual sexual look. We had both silently decided we 'wanted' each other. He looked very well educated with silvery grey hair, probably in his 50s when I was in my 30s.

I had planned to get off at St Germain and wander around my familiar quartier   Rue Jacob and the Rue de Seine. I didn't have any real friends but had recently met Geyula Dagan, the South African Israeli artist at Willy Maywald's Salon and befriended her. The 6em was where all the art galleries were located and I would walk into the vernissages on the opening nights to educate myself art-wise.

We stepped off the bus in unison and he immediately invited me for an appetitive at Les Deux Magots, famous for literary and the intellectual elite such as Satre and de Beauvoir. I don't even recall what we spoke about and have forgotten his name. A man of mystery.

I, at the time, was working in the large typing pool at the OECD at La Muette. An old Irish teaching colleague had introduced me to his ex fiancÚe who in turn, through her recommendation, had got me a typing job even though I failed, in my eyes, the entrance exam! Not what you know but who you know is the key to life outside your comfort zone.

Monsieur was a very good looking man who immediately went to the phone box to make a reservation for dinner at Brasserie Lipp across the road where the politicians would meet. We lusted after each other but I do not recall our conversation or what, if anything, we had in common. After dining on Choucroute, the speciality of the maison, we finished with Millefeuille for him and a Dame Blanche for me. We then silently took a taxi back to my cozy first floor flat overlooking the courtyard at 27 rue Campagne Premiere in the 14em and that was that!  I do not recall an eventful night of passion. It was all in the mind and the law of attraction. I told him where I worked and a few days later I received a phone call asking me if I would like to fly with him that weekend to his favourite island Sark - a world apart!

He had to educate me about Sark and its unique history being pivotal in WW2 on the plane. How exciting a weekend with a total stranger in the Channel Islands! We flew to Guernsey and thence a ferry. He knew the carless island well. His hotel awaited us with a warm 'Welcome back Monsieur.' A romantic weekend thought I. But no, a total disaster from the start until I walked out leaving him in the dark of the bedroom moaning and groaning in mental agony.

His change of behaviour began before dinner on the first night. I had brought a small soap in a plastic travelling box and inadvertently placed my soap on top of his soap in the wash basin. He raised his voice at me for being ignorant as to mix the perfume smells. Well I was uneducated when it came to the art of scent. Odd how later I would get involved in the perfume industry supplying Regine de Robien  at her wonderful boutique Beaute Divine for many years, selling perfume labels to Mandy Aftel for her American company and supplying Erasmic vintage soap images for the company archive. It was then that I decided to find and look at his passport. Today the owner's profession is no longer written down but in the 70s it was. My volatile lover was an accountant in the perfume industry!

The next morning he disappeared after breakfast to walk miles along the beach. I could not walk fast and frankly I loathed beaches and the texture of sand. It was summer time and he was in seventh heaven like an excited puppy chasing its tail. Basically he abandoned me for a couple of hours and I never understand why he invited me in the first place as I was not up to his high cultural level. He was not after sex but a travelling companion.

I recall we went to an expensive seafood restaurant in Sark that he knew well. Then he attacked me again over how I held my knife and fork. Obviously I did not come up to his gastronomic French table manners. I chocked on my tears and could not swallow the expensive Lobster Thermidor. O me miserum! The intimacy had gone and we were two strangers sitting uncomfortably at a lunch table in beautiful surroundings.

I remember him going to bed early, lying in the dark not wanting my company. I immediately went to the reception and booked a rail and boat ticket back to Paris after I had discovered Monsieur had bought one way tickets! Thank God I had brought my credit card with me. At least he had paid for the hotel.  Never rely on a man has always been my motto! This mystery man was deranged and desperately unhappy deciding to vent his pentaprism anger on moi, his victim. I left that night abandoning him to his insanity. He had mentally abused and humiliated me and made me cry real tears. Had it been today he would not have got away with his abuse. Back I went to Paris and my boring OECD job in the merde of the 16em.

Some months later I was in my flat one evening with my anthropologist boyfriend Pierre, when there was a knock on my door. Few people came to visit so I thought it must be the Portuguese concierge. But no, it was the Mystery Man looking disheveled and humble. Although it was an inconvenient moment, I had to invite him in and offer a whisky because he looked like he needed something stronger than wine. He said he had lost his address book with all his 'friends' in and was doing the rounds on foot trying to recall where each one lived. I couldn't believe he considered me a friend especially as the feeling was not mutual. He gulped down the scotch and beat a retreat with his tail between his legs. I only saw him once
 again years later walking aimlessly in St. Germain from a bus. This time I did not get off the bus.

Not a Belle Chasse experience in the end.


Written at Villa Perla, Kaleiši, Antalya on 16/3/17.

References

Brasserie Lipp
Les Deux Magots
Google - The island of Sark
OECD.org
Wikipedia -Willy Maywald