Paris: Champs-Élysées Red Light District.*

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DSC_0074The dress of my dreams has what could be described as a "keyhole neckline." I probably would describe it, in retrospect, as a huge gash in the chest. In the dressing room at Anthropologie, it wasn't so dramatic. But when I wear it in public and suddenly feel European eyes on me, I realize the girls are in the show. In a big way. So.

I paid my 9,00€ to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe today. Then I strolled — well, speed walked — the length of the Champs-Élysées on my way to lunch. The concentration of overweight, idiotic tourists was suddenly exponentially higher than anywhere else I've visited in Paris so far, so I moved at a clip to be away from them.

Blaring Fall Out Boy on my iPod — très français, n'est-ce pas? leave me alone — I slow only when I spotted a man in the corner of my eye. He was a different brand of smarmy than the other men I've met since I got here: slim-cut navy-blue suit, a crisp pink button-down Oxford and had his hair slicked back like a very fancy European might. His name was Pierre-Olivier, and he flat-out propositioned me. In the middle of the sidewalk on the Champs-Élysées.

Yes, other men have stopped me on the street; their intentions seem pure enough. (Charmante seems to be their word of choice, followed closely by jolie. The only one who's gotten past the first conversation had me at mignonne.) I fumble with my French, I misunderstand; they grapple with a bit of English, then I excuse myself and run in the opposite direction.

But when Pierre-Olivier said, "Vous êtes charmante," he meant, "I can see part of your breasts in that dress. And I want them." I was so shocked at the situation that I lost my ability to speak French entirely. And he spoke English. Systems go. He complimented my décolleté then touched my arm, made some comment about how I was sticky from my lotion (it was humid!) then said, "That's OK. It's good for making love." Sir!?! I laughed in his face. Vraiment? It seemed like one of those situations where, if I lost my mind completely and were to call the number he wrote down in my little leather journal, to "take a European lover" for the night — he actually said that, in addition to offering me a few French lessons — he would hand me a bill after we had finished.

He really wanted to hang. I did not. I wanted to go spend a fortune on lunch, get drunk on my wine pairings and dance back across the Place de la Concorde to my hotel, in a beautiful spring drizzle. Not get herpes from some Parisian lothario. So I excused myself, as I am wont to do, and put my earbuds back in for the only sweet nothings I was really in the market for. I guess, anyway, it's nice to know I'm wanted. Free love or sex for hire: Either way, it's nice to know.

* I am not this into myself. I swear. This is just what happens in Europe, I think; men are more forward here and go after what they want. I bet they would want you, too. And you. Ehh. But maybe not you.