Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In which I tell you the embarrassing story of Gomez, Part 3 - We meet in Paris

Gomez has called me. Not on the real phone. Via skype. He won't email. Makes me nuts because I prefer to write. Plus he calls while I am at work and as I am no longer in an office but am in a cubicle because my spineless boss let another department have my team's offices, I have no privacy. The good part is that my French is improving, as I speak it rather than be overheard by my co-workers, who are sitting right next to me in cubicles, not offices.

"Meet me in Paris," he urges. "I can spend the week with you."

He does not offer to pay for my ticket. What's a thousand dollars? Pocket change! Who thinks once about a thousand dollars?

I should have insisted he buy my ticket. I do not ask that he do so. I am a Liberated Woman. I Pay My Own Way. I don't want to be a Bought Woman. Ha. I was an idiot. I was a many times idiot with Gomez.

I cash in frequent flier miles for my ticket. I go to The Gap to get clothes for his seven year old son. ("The Gap is so expensive here," he tells me.) $115 I spend.

My friends, the clerk at The Gap, the women at the Junior League Thrift Shop where I seek the perfect dress, are all thrilled at my adventure. It's like a fairy tale. I have visions of True Love, of Being Rescued and Living a Life of Luxury. A Life Where I Never Have to Clean the Bathroom Again.

I arrive in Paris. He does not meet me at the airport. I am bothered by this. I mean - Primo has always picked me up. OK, I don't know this yet, but instinctively, I know that The Man Picks The Woman Up.

Gomez's excuse is that he is flying into Orly and I am flying into de Gaulle, but so the heck what? Is he a gentleman or not?* Can't he take a cab from one airport to another?

We meet at a cafe near his cousin's apartment, which is where we will be staying. When he said, "apartment," I had envisioned a place with you know, bedrooms. And a cousin. As in, a place where it would be easy not to share a bed or bedroom with Gomez because I am positive that You Know What is not going to happen because I am not That Kind Of Girl.

But it turns out to be a studio. Empty. The cousin, Salima, is not there. She has been summoned home because it's high time she married and her parents don't mean maybe. In the meantime, she keeps the apartment for her occasional jaunts to Paris.

Rich kids.

Being as it has been a while for me, I do prove to Gomez that yes, les Americaines are indeed facile. I am indeed, That Kind Of Girl. Oh, the shame.

I show him the things from The Gap. "Here's the receipt," I say politely. That's American middle class code for, "You may give me my money now."

Apparently, to a rich, never has had to work for his money Moroccan, that means, "Here is an insignificant piece of paper."

He does not give me my $115 until halfway through the week and that's after I flat-out ask for it.

I want to walk around Paris, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, to Versailles, to the markets. "I 'ave done all zat," he says. "Zat is boring."

He wants to go to his bank. To the Ferrari dealer. To The Gap.

Yes. To The Gap.

We go to the Paris Gap not once, but three times.

We are in Paris and we are going to The Gap?

This is not what I had in mind.

We eat in almost every night because Gomez doesn't like restaurants.

"I eat at restaurants all of zee time," he says. "Eet is boring."

The one time we do go out for supper, it is with friends of his who speak English but prefer French. My French is not good enough to keep up with them, so I spend the meal gagging over the cigarette smoke - the couple next to us goes through an entire pack of cigarettes while we are there and no I am not making this up - and being bored.

We eat lunch in. After lunch, at which he drinks an entire bottle of wine, Gomez changes into his Frette pajamas (a fancy brand I had never heard of before) and takes a three hour nap. He drinks another bottle of wine at supper.

You'll be glad to know that he recyles the empty bottles.

I get tired of doing nothing while he sleeps, so insist on going out by myself. I am late returning one afternoon and Gomez is in a tizzy. I am five minutes late. Five minutes. Not five hours.

"What eef I don't know what happens to you?" he asks.

"I've been to Paris several times and I speak French," I tell him. I am torn between being happy someone is worried about me and being annoyed that I am being treated like a child.

He tells me about going to college and grad school in Paris. His mother send him to college with a Mercedes and a servant.

We are from different worlds, indeed.

We have lunch with one of his cousins and his aunt one day. The aunt refuses to talk to me. Ayisha, the cousin, is fine. She and I chat the entire time while the aunt alternates between giving me the evil eye and ignoring me. This is our only lunch out. We eat Chinese food.

The high point of the trip is Gomez's anti-Semitism. He is divorced and has custody of his son. His ex is American. We spend an afternoon walking (Gomez doesn't spend money on taxis, but he will spend $1,200 on a new sportcoat, which is another shopping adventure we have) to a Lebanese church so he can ask them about their records and his ex-wife's surname and is it really Lebanese Christian or - oh no - Jewish.

"Why does it matter?" I ask.

He gives me some BS answer that makes no sense to me - something about how he himself is not anti-Semitic but he is sure she lied to him about being Christian instead of Jewish and he's not anti-Semitic really - the ambassador from Israel lives down the street from him and is his friend.

When I return to Springfield, he asks me to get a copy of his ex's birth certificate. I refuse and tell him I want nothing to do with this little project of his.

He wears a suit and tie every day. I have jeans.

He smokes. In the apartment. Even though I ask him repeatedly not to.

He lectures me about US foreign policy.

He asks me to iron his shirts.

I put up with all of this.

Idiot, idiot, idiot.

* No, he is not.

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