A match made in France?

In my first year of college, I went on a traveling Janterm, where we spent two weeks studying French in Cannes, and doing tours to the nearby towns and famous spots, and one week in Paris, exploring as we wished.  During the first two weeks, while a group of us were on a city bus, I noticed a French kid about our age.  He was sitting in a seat, on the left side of the bus, somewhat near the front, listening to music with headphones on.  I was curious what music he had playing.  I also thought he was cute.  Therefore, I wanted to talk to him.  The easiest thing for me to say to him was to ask him to what music he was listening.  I fought constantly with the insides of my brain and the fluttering of my stomach, and at last, I believe, he got off the bus.  Or else, we got off the bus.  I really don’t remember. However, I remember making eye contact with him at least once, if not a few times while we were all riding  the bus.

Well, I was incredibly disappointed that I had not spoken with the boy, though not entirely surprised at myself – even today, I have to psych myself up for odd situations like that.  However, I usually succeed in making the interaction nowadays, whereas at the time, I did not.

But this tale does not end sadly.  At least, not yet.

I believe that it was that same night, or perhaps the following – but I really think it was that same night – that a group of us decided to go to a nightclub in the town.  Some of the older guys who were working at the dormitory where we were all studying offered to take us to some cool bar and club.  We all happily agreed.  Well, some of the girls and guys and I agreed, but not everyone.

So, a small band of foreigners temporary living in Cannes so they could study French headed to a nice bar for a while, and then to a dance club later on that night.  On the way, I learned that a Romanian speaker can understand other romance languages rather easily.  (Fun Fact: This was my first interaction with someone being able to understand another language that is similar to his/her own, without necessarily being able to speak that language.  Of course, I can now do that with various languages myself, but it was a fun start to the concept for me.)

The bar was fun and interesting, and we didn’t have to check our coats, but we did have to buy drinks to compensate for having not checked our coats, and we had to deal with a huge pile of coats, which we were somewhat hiding in the corner.  However, I need not say much more about the bar.  Rather, anything more.  The club is the important one, you see. 

First off, the club was huge and, really, quite an awesome dance club.  I was amazed at the environment, as well as the clientele.  People danced by themselves or with a friend or with friends, and it didn’t matter which they did.  There were no circles forming awkwardly, or anything like that.  People weren’t doing official or formal dances of any kind, though.  They were just free dancing, having a wonderful time, doing their own things to the music.  I happily joined in in this type of merriment, while being amazed that on one side of me could be a 17-year-old, and on the other side of me could be a 40-year-old – no one cared how old anyone else was.

In short, I loved the club, and I loved dancing in it.

And, while I enjoyed dancing in it, I saw a familiar head.  When he turned and saw me, we looked in each other’s eyes, and there was this sort of understanding.  We both knew that we had seen each other that day.  We both knew that we had not talked to one another.  And it felt as though we both knew that I at least had wanted to talk to him.  This time, however, it seemed quite clear that he wanted to talk to me, as well.  Shortly after seeing one another, he was dancing in front of me, with me.  We held hands as we danced with one another, and we danced without holding hands, too.  

Even though I could manage French rather well at that time, he never got to find out this fact, because he addressed me in English.  It was somewhat iffy English, but adorable, and I loved that he was trying and that he knew we had all been speaking English on the bus.  He had been listening to music, of course, but he clearly had been paying enough attention to us nonetheless.

I don’t remember how long we danced or how we started dancing with one another, but I remember that it was absolutely wonderful.  At some point later in the evening, a couple of the girls who were with me told me I needed to give him a way to contact me.  I didn’t have a phone, of course, but one of the girls had just gotten one that day, because she was staying for the whole semester.  So, we wrote my full name and her phone number on a piece of paper.  In the French conjugation of the verb to want, I couldn’t remember if the you form ended in an or a t.  So, instead of saying, “If you want,” I wrote, “If one wants,” which, in French, can also be read as, “If we want.”  (Si on veut.)

I handed him the paper and I said goodbye and rushed out with my friends.  I don’t even remember what I said to him, or if I even said anything to him as I gave him the paper.  I just know that I gave it to him.

I spent several hours throughout the following months searching a particular page on Facebook.  It was the page for the club where we had been dancing.  I was scouring the faces and names of all the people who had liked the page, looking for this guy.  I used to know his first name.  I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was now, though.  I do remember his eyes, though… those gray-blue, yet bright eyes.  But I searched long and hard for his Facebook, to no avail.

He never called.

Or, at least, if he did, it was after I had left, and my friend with the phone never told me.

I am reminded of all of this, because today, for the second time in my life, I gave a piece of paper with my name and contact info on it to a guy.  (My full name and LINE ID, to be exact.)  He has already contacted me.

Post-a-day 2017

A glimpse of Japanese culture

Tonight, I stopped in at an udon restaurant that is a similar style to Luby’s (pick up a tray, grab side dishes as you will, and order the main hot dish fresh when you get to that section, pay at the end of the sliding bar line) for dinner.  I initially hesitate, figuring out what I want to eat. As I decide upon something, I realize that I don’t know how to say what I want, because the first half of the name is written in kanji.  If it had been reversed, with hiragana first and kanji second, I could have faked my way through.  However, how does one start a word/name with only the end of it?

So, I figured I’d just stumble through verbally, and eventually get someone to lean over the counter a bit to see which picture I was indicating.  As I arrive at the ordering section, and attempt to do just as I had planned, explaining that I can’t read Japanese, but I want this one, please, the man in line behind me does me a solid, and reads aloud the name of the dish for me.

Now he totally didn’t need to do this, as the restaurant worker easily leaned forward to see the  picture anyway, but he, for whatever reason – and I word it this way, because this has not often been my experience here, having people be oh-so-willing to help out the foreign girl – decided to help me.  Therefore, despite my terror of getting caught in a language mess of trying to explain and risking not getting my way, I told the lady at the register to put mine and the man’s meals together.  She seemed a bit caught off guard, but accepted my request, likely assuming that I was actually here with the guy after all.

I paid, accepted my change, thanked the cashier, thanked the man once again as he walked up next to me in line once again, and walked off to my seat around the corner.

A minute later, I went to get some tea from the water and hot green tea dispenser, and saw the man there getting water for himself.  When he saw me, he did the Japanese “Oh!”, though a bit subdued, and thanked me in a very fumbly sort of way (I imagine he isn’t quite accustomed to such a scenario, based on his general appearance and fumbliness.), opting to use the version of thank you that literally means “excuse me”, and bowing as best he could holding his tray and water.  I told him that it was nothing, and thanked him again for the help.

Still sitting at my seat a while later, watching a small spider tiddle across the countertop, I notice the man coming over to me, and I look up at him.  He thanks me again (and again in a very fumbly way), looking a bit embarrassed, and bows a couple more times (which I return with a smile and bow) before leaving the restaurant.

It was quite simple, but I found so much culture in the situation, I wanted to share it.  Plus, this older guy was, in a grandpa sort of way, so cute, I wanted the memory to live on somehow in others.

So, thank you, again, old man.  Really, I appreciated your help, and gave you your meal easily and with delight – it was almost an honor for me to have provided you this token of my gratitude.  Thanks.  🙂
Post-a-day 2017