I take my seat with a group of girlfriends at L’Apparemment Café, an old haunt of mine deep inside the Marais, opposite the Musée Picasso, where you can choose from a long list of mouth-watering ingredients – sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, fresh marinated anchovies – to build your own salad. Except it is Sunday today and I had completely forgotten that on the day of our Lord they serve only brunch.
This would be perfect if I hadn’t already ploughed through a copious Pain Quotidien brunch the day before, a major blowout involving lashings of praline spread, confiture de lait and other sinful concoctions which, if they didn’t taste so good, might as well be applied directly to the thigh area with a palette knife.
Waving my healthy salad goodbye, I settle in for the long haul: juice, coffee, a boiled egg, mountains of crusty bread, pancakes with maple syrup, a cheese platter (the French always seem to add a random unnecessary savoury dish into every brunch menu, which I never have room for), fromage blanc and blackberry coulis… and conversation.
“I can’t believe you snogged two guys on the dancefloor last night. Seriously, you are a menace to society!” My friend blushes, as she has only just arrived, doesn’t know the other ladies present particularly well. She should be used to me by now.
“No”, she says, recovering her composure remarkably quickly, “they were the menace to society. Fancy reaching your mid-thirties and not knowing how to kiss. Appalling. One of them had a technique like a washing machine. His tongue went round and round in a clockwise motion, then suddenly went into reverse and swept round and round in the other direction. It was so, well, mechanical.” She shudders at the memory.
All this talk of domestic appliances calls to mind the last person who chatted me up: a Darty man who delivered my new cooker. Granted, I indulged in a little eyelash fluttering, but only because I wanted him to take away an old refrigerator left in the apartment by my predecessors, and that wasn’t strictly his job…
The result was ten or more messages left on my mobile in semi-literate text speak before my suitor finally drew the appropriate conclusions from my resounding silence.
“Men just seem like too much trouble right now, I don’t even have time to do all my own stuff, let alone take anyone else into account,” I say, almost thinking aloud. “Mind you, I kind of wish my favourite toy hadn’t gone missing when I moved.”
Because, yes, of all the things that could have inexplicably failed to materialise when I unpacked my boxes, it had to be that. I live in fear of it turning up at an inopportune moment (say, during a visit from my ex-mother in law).
Embarrassment potential: critical.