Gliding into Friends: The Pisco Sour

Whenever I start dating a man I think I could really like, two things happen. First, my mind is flooded with a series of highly inappropriate questions my brain cannot filter. Second, I order a new cocktail for the first time and secretly associate the flavor with the man. This allows me to relive moments with him long after I have scared him away with a ridiculous interrogation.

“Are you gay?” This time I endeavored to keep the question to myself.

Brandon had soft skin. He was stylish, did yoga and made a point of telling me he went to a “hair dresser” (not a barber). Yet, he seemed interested and our first date lasted five hours.

“What would you like?” he asked.
“Hmm, pisco sour, that sounds good.” True to form, Brandon would thereafter be a pisco sour to me: sweet, strong and laced with some flavors I cannot identify but that I think I like.

I was lost in his eyes as he told me about his passion for the opera. I never realized how interesting something I previously cared nothing about could become when it came from his mouth.

“And I got these new shoes from Berlutti, I’d love to break them in for the first time at the opera with you.” Just when I thought I had him figured out, he made me wonder again.

My concern was appeased with a surreptitious graze of my thigh…but wait, was this gesture due to carnal attraction or him trying to cop a feel of my Chanel tweed? I figured if he was into fashion, at the very least, we could have a good conversation. So I asked his advice on a future purchase.

“Well, my favorite color is turquoise, but if it’s something you’d be wearing, I’d love to see you in red.” I loved how he dignified all the silly things that were so important to me with a serious response from him.

Weeks later, we had another dinner filled with awkwardly honest conversation.

“In the hospital after the horseback riding accident, I completely lost bladder control because of the concussion.” I could not believe what had just come out of my mouth. This time he grazed my thigh and it was for sure deliberate.
“But you don’t have that problem anymore, right?” We both laughed. With him I needed no filter. It was nice.

The waitress came to take our orders.

“I’ll have the salmon,” Brandon said.
“Sorry, no salmon today.”
“All right, then I’ll have the salad nicoise”
“We’re out of lettuce.”

After some more back and forth, we identified one of the few items on the menu still available; we both had cheeseburgers. And I, a pisco sour.

“I was kind of nerdy as a kid, I would play video games every chance I got,” he revealed. It was endearing.
“Haha, Dungeons and Dragons, you and my brother would have gotten along!” I liked teasing him because then he would smile.
“I would like to take you to a very special wine bar I love. It’s in the Marais, you know, the gay neighborhood.” He said, matter-of-factly.
“Sure, sounds great!” I decided not to over-analyze his second sentence. We took a cab and when we arrived at the destination, Brandon briskly sent the cab away. On the wine bar door read a sign “Closed for the holidays.”

“Oh no Brandon, looks like we won’t be going here after all!”
“Don’t worry, I live just around the corner. We could have some tea at my place,” he suggested. If he did in fact live around the corner, I wondered how he didn’t notice the sign before.

Although he looked great that night and maybe had earned it, I wasn’t about to reward this kind of sly technique—if it in fact wasn’t a chance occurrence. As we parted, no hand holding, no kiss…then I wondered if he really did just want me to come over for chai tea lattes and to read his Colorology book. I put the thought out of my mind.

As time went by, we continued to see each other and I eventually did make it into Brandon’s apartment. I was pleasantly surprised. It was well decorated and neat…although he didn’t believe in curtains at all—even in the bathroom where his shower door was transparent! Weird as I might find it, this was something I decided I could address later or not at all.

“You like pisco sours right?” he asked with a devious smile. I wondered if he had figured out my rule.
“I looove them, thank you!” I was mesmerized by his muscular forearms as he squeezed the limes and I almost forgot my bursting bladder.
“Be right back, bathroom’s over there, right?” He nodded and I got ready to put on a show for his neighbors. In the sleek modern bathroom, I couldn’t help but wonder if Brandon belonged to another alpha female. The temptation to investigate was too great. I scanned the counter. One toothbrush–and it was blue. Hallelujah! No tampons. No depilatories. No hair scrunchies (although this was a little annoying because I am pathologically scrunchie-less and wanted to wash my face). I was feeling increasingly relieved as I noticed the masculine bathroom products—I could even forgive the loofah but then I saw…IT.

It was just sitting there in the drawer, the possible answer to these questions I had been asking myself about this wonderful man still single in his thirties. It was like road kill—something I couldn’t bear to see but had to look at long enough to properly identify it.

The little orange foil packet read “Gliding into friends” and on it were two male symbols artfully intertwined. As I picked it up, I realized this hot potato had to be handled with finesse; but a passionate woman often lacks this quality. Packet in hand, I left the bathroom and approached him. I figured the best way to deal with the gay lube was to toss it right on the surface where he eats breakfast. I wanted some explaining.

“Relax, I got it as a gag from a party. It’s not like I bought a full tube, it’s just a sample!” I wanted to believe him. His dancing eyes made him look capable of mischief but somehow his explanation appeased me. I think this finding with any other man would have me running for the hills but Brandon knew how to hold onto me.

He put the pisco sour up to my lips and it tasted good. I stayed over that night and learned, once and for all, that he only had eyes for women, and, more specifically, this particular one.

Sometimes we ask silly questions because deep down we already know the truth…and it scares us.

-Albany Eden

My First Parisian Boyfriend

missed call_albany eden“All right, fine. I’ll drive you to the airport but only if it’s Orly, because it costs too much in gas to drive to Charles de Gaulle.” He huffed with annoyance. My first Parisian boyfriend drove a Smart car. Straight off the boat from the land of SUVs, I found it comical and when I first saw it said, ce n’est pas une voiture, c’est une mouche! Generally, his vehicle could carry either a passenger or a suitcase.

But I was going to the South of France for the Cannes Film Festival. It would be sunny and my bikinis and cocktail dresses fit comfortably into my hand luggage.

I had met Sebastien whilst out with my Swedish girlfriend. Linda actually used to wait tables at the Salon Bar near Oberkampf and still liked to go there to see her friends. Seb was the DJ at this place and he, like many other Parisian men I’d learn over the years, took himself very seriously.

If I hadn’t only been a teenager and going to my first bars ever, my ability to detect losers from the worthwhile guys might have been more developed. I saw Seb for the first time DJing at the bar, eyes closed in intense concentration with his headset over one ear. There he stood by his turntables at the back of the restaurant between the coat check and the ladies’ toilet. He was mixing a morceau of Saint Germain with the latest Madonna song (her “Music” album was just coming out) as patrons enjoyed their steak tare-tare and conversed. I wondered how many just assumed it was a CD playing.

Seb was tall, skinny, had a pointy nose, smoked a lot and pronounced h’s at the beginning of words that did not need them and silenced the h’s of words that did. “Hi habsolutely hadore aouse music!”

So Linda introduced us. He took my number and called and hung up, so I’d have his number. Little did I know that he would use this strategy throughout our short-lived relationship whenever he wanted to speak with me, so that I’d call him back and pay the communication.

“Missed call from Seb.” That’s strange, I didn’t hear it ring. It took me a little while to figure it out but I finally confronted him.

“But I am paid end of month. I don’t have budget for calling you.”

We would see each other only to go out at night. Linda was beautiful and so she would get us into the best clubs around the Champs-Elysées—places where bouncers would never allow Seb under any other circumstances.

At the Cannes Film Festival, I met a couple of interesting men, all of whom would call me without hanging up. No one I’d ever see again but at some point under the tent of the amazing Moulin Rouge party I looked toward the VIP square where Nicole Kidman sat behind her body guards and I realized there should be more to life than “aouse music” and second-hand smoke. The next day I called Air France and switched my Orly flight to one that arrived at Charles de Gaulle. I never saw Seb again. Although he did call, he never stayed on the phone long enough for me to answer.

Nearly a year later, I had completely forgotten about him. I had a new job with a major multinational media company. Galas and VIP events had become chores to me. I was rubbing elbows with the celebrities (well, ok I was frequently in the same room with them although there was no joint on joint contact).

My boss was the marketing director. We’d get so many calls from radio stations, magazines, etc. selling ad space. I was tasked with filtering these propositions. The phone rang. “Acme Incorporated” I said.

“Hello, this is Sebastien from the Informer Magazine and I’d like to talk to you about an interesting opportunity to purchase ad space. I recognized his voice not at first but by the end of the sentence.

“Seb?”
“Yes?”
“It’s me, Albany, remember?”

A brief updating of our professional lives ensued. Apparently Seb lost out to an mp3 player and had to find another gig.

“Well, nice to hear from you, so what about this ad space?” he asked. Clearly he had quotas and worked on commission. I’m not one to get many Pretty Woman moments like when Julia Roberts tells the nasty sales girls about the error of their ways, so I was getting ready to savor every moment as I opened my mouth.

“Sorry, we’re not budgeted for that. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

-Albany Eden