In light of my recent desperate hunt for an apartment in Paris, I thought that it would be appropriate to share the following story, which occurred shortly after I moved into my last apartment. At the end, you’ll see why this story is so fitting, trust me.
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It was an early Saturday morning, and I was about to get on the metro to see off a friend before she left the country. I’ll sketch out the scene for you in bullet point form:
- This felt like the butt-crack of dawn, and I am NOT a morning person. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I try to minimize human interaction before noon.
- I was not dressed to prowl: fat-day/PMS jeans, Converse sneakers, nondescript t-shirt.
- I was on the phone with my sister in California; with the nine hour time difference, this was the only time that we could talk.
- In other words, I was in no mood and in no position to be conversing with strangers on the metro. And I’d like to think that this was clear to bystanders at the time.
So of course, this meant that an older, fifty-ish man decided to get all up in my business and attempt to chat me up while I was in the middle of a phone conversation.
And he persisted. He had no respect for the fact that I was otherwise engaged in conversation; he continuously interjected and pestered me for my contact info until I was so irritated that I just gave him my email in order to stop the insanity.
Yes, it was my real email address.
I’m an idiot.
But in my defense, I was flustered, and my brain doesn’t function normally in the morning.
And anyway, if I hadn’t given him my email address, I never would have received this gem of an email, which I reproduce here in its entirety, word for word (except for removing his personal information):
Hello “there” ( here I must interject in order to apologise- in default of your forename),
Now that’s a fairly long introduction. My name’s —-. English speaking people usually end up calling me —-.
I’m not at all in the habit of accosting young maidens in the metro, or any other ilk either. However I did overhear fragments of your conversation with your sister (?) I believe. Not an eavesdropper by nature, however I couldn’t help picking up a detail you repeatedly mentionned- that of clarity in speech ( because even the wriiten word is referred to as speech I believe). You ennounce and pronounce so beautifully that I was very rapidly under an rather binding spell. I think that clarity of speech denotes clarity of thought.
This in itself is a golden quality, and is becoming a rarity nowadays.
It was almost ironic that I happened to be heading to a writers’ workshop last Saturday when my ears “alighted” upon your speech ; when I heard you speak. So California is your home? Welcome to Paris.
You see, if one is not part of an English-speaking community in Paris, one loses touch with the language. Hence it would be a pleasure to get together over a cup of cofee, glass of wine, jug of beer, slurp of Champagne, or countless other pretences to have a good old chin wag if you feel so inclnined. No strings attached. It’s just nice to meet a lively soul- something I rapidly gathered that you were.
Here are my “credentials” :
— name —
— mailing address —
— land line number —
— mobile number —
Hoping to hear from you soon.
I think that the email speaks for itself, so I will offer no additional commentary. At the time, I was speechless. I laughed so hard that I nearly injured myself.
And I continued laughing until I showed the email to my flatmate.
When she read it through, she recognized the name at the bottom of the message and gave me a piece of information that surely took off a few years of my life:
Mr. Metro Accoster was, in fact, OUR LANDLORD.
And that had my flatmate laughing for DAYS.
Meanwhile, I was left scratching my head and wondering how this stuff happens to me.
And now, thankfully, I am moving.
And this “young maiden” will be saving her “rather binding spell” for a more appropriate target. A handsome target, hopefully. And not someone to whom I pay rent.