This afternoon I took a nap on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. Such a peaceful place compared to the City of Seattle. I had been walking all morning and finally sun burnt and exhausted (and unwilling to take the 40 minute train to my hotel) I collapsed beneath a tree with kissing 20-year-olds lounging on the grass around me. There is something about this city that makes the men go wild for women. When I awoke, a man carrying a guitar approached me speaking in French. “I speak English, sorry.” He didn’t relent. “French? Italian? Spanish?” At the last one I nodded, “Sí, Español”. He had his in.
He plopped down next to me, and we tried to talk in a combination of French, Spanish and English. I got out “married” in Spanish and he seemed to understand. I pointed to my wedding ring, he nodded. He said he was married too, and pointed to his ring finger, which was bare. I rolled my eyes and said, “no ring”. He shrugged. These are not the things we worry about in Paris.
He wanted to know if my blue eyes were natural. They were. He thought I was beautiful. Thanks. I wondered if I was going to have to actually get up and walk away before he would get the hint. “Béseme” he said, pointing to his lips. He wanted me to kiss him. I laughed and played dumb. “Oh you Americans, don’t you know it is okay in Paris?” I was trying to remember where in the guidebook it said it was a cultural norm to kiss strangers on the lips. I must have missed the chapter on “Why American Girls Will Fall for Whatever a French Guy Says”. No kiss, no luck. Once he realized that I wasn’t going to bite, he slung his guitar over his shoulder and took off– no doubt looking for more slightly groggy Americans to ply with his charms.
This hasn’t been an isolated event in my brief stay in the City of Love. Valentino followed me five blocks until I ditched him at the train station, promising to meet him the next morning for coffee at the same metro stop. (a big lie, oops). He had seen me in the park and had jogged up to catch me, telling me in broken English that I am “so beautiful and wow, it was amazing.”
I am not the kind of woman these things happen to. Trust me when I say, it’s Paris, not me. Although, I do have to cut Paris a little slack. I don’t often travel to foreign countries alone. My husband and I have been together since I was 23 and all of our travels have been in tandem. So perhaps, solo female travelers in any city will be approached more often. They seem more accessible yet mysterious. Plus, they think the accent is cute, when French women just see a guy with a guitar and no job.
Still I have to wonder, for the men to be so persistent, they must be having some luck. So, how many American women do you think are kissing strange men beneath the Eiffel Tower?