Bonjour, Gauchos. I write to you from Paris about – of course – love. In the most romantic city in the world, I can’t go a day without thinking about that four-letter word.
Paris has rightly earned its title as the place for lovers. Everywhere I go, I see couples holding hands, walking arm in arm, giving each other “those” looks and dry-humping on the grass. No, really. They so unabashedly make out with each other that sometimes I feel as if I’m intruding on their private bedroom when they’re French kissing – er, I guess regular kissing – on a bench along the Seine.
At first, this so very public display of affection offended me. “Get a room!” I wanted to shout at them (but didn’t, because I don’t know enough French). That sort of stuff should be saved for behind closed doors, where innocent passers-by with virgin eyes can’t see.
But now that I’ve been here for a bit over a month, I’ve had time to adjust and learn to love it. I realized the Parisians are okay with me seeing them suck face, so I might as well watch. In fact, it seems as if they want to parade their love all around.
The difference between the way French couples act and the way American couples act has to do with happiness and pride. In the States, people walk around holding hands all the time, but they don’t look like they want to. It’s sort of like, “Yeah, I’m with someone right now, but it really blows and I can’t wait to get out of this relationship.” With marriage comes a ball and chain, for heaven’s sake, like living with the person you love more than anyone you’ve ever met will put a damper on your lifestyle.
The Parisians, conversely, seem overjoyed with their partners and can’t keep their hands off one another. On the metro, a Parisian girl will fold into her man, tilting her head up to meet his lips and continue to smooch him until they reach their station eight stops later. On the benches next to the Champ de Mars, a couple’s legs are so intertwined that I can’t tell whose feet belong to whom. When the girl pulls her face away for a breath of air, the guy grabs it back, the longing in his eyes apparent from 15 feet (er, meters) away.
When I see these Parisian couples looking so enamored, I can’t help but be jealous. In this city that oozes with romance, I’m still hopelessly single. The ratio of guys to girls at my school is about three to a cajillion. I know there are other men in Paris, but they speak French, and as I said earlier, I don’t.
But, no matter. If I believe all those fairy tales that Disney taught me, I know that love will come in the form of a strikingly gorgeous prince right when I need it most. I hope that, when mon amour does show up, he and I will be happy to hold hands, we will be proud to M.O. in public and when people ask me if we’ve said “those three words,” I will exclaim, “Yes! Of course!” with no hesitation!
Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top. But why do we Americans push love away? You can see it in our language. To say that you “fall in love” sort of implies that it’s a negative thing that you didn’t exactly want, but that happened to you anyhow. Love is said to “creep up” on you, which means it’s uninvited.
Maybe we should start very deliberately grabbing love. Maybe then being in a relationship wouldn’t suck so much and we wouldn’t look so dragged down while we’re walking down the street with our lovers.
Maybe I’m just drunk on all the romantic idealizations that Paris is filled with. Or maybe that’s the wine.