“So, what do you do in Paris?” says the friend of a friend I’ve just been introduced to.
“Oh, I’ve been here for eleven years now, and I was a secretary for most of that time,” I say. “And now, I’m, um, writing this memoir…” I let my voice trail off in a way that will make it sound like I’ve just said the most boring thing in the world, hoping to nip any further questions in the bud.
“You’re slowly getting better at this, see?” whispers my girlfriend, with a wink.
“Well, maybe, but I’m still blushing, you just can’t see it in this light,” I reply doubtfully.
I live in constant dread of having to tell people just what it is that I do for a living.
Since April, the question has been one king-sized can of worms. (Can one buy cans of worms? Aren’t they maggots? For fishing?) Because “I’m between jobs right now” or “I got fired” usually snowballs into more questions, and yet more, until the whole grisly truth comes out. It’s long, it’s involved, and I end up feeling oddly like I’m being interviewed rather than actually making conversation.
Ever since contracts were exchanged and it all became terrifyingly official, I have no longer been able to truthfully play the chômeur card, and so now I have to admit, bashfully, that I am writing to earn my bread and butter. “Admit” probably isn’t the right word, but the only other phrase which springs to mind right now is “own up to”, which isn’t much of an improvement, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Of course if I mention writing, the questions come even thicker and faster. And although I’m going to be a writer, one day, when I’m published, I don’t feel like I own that title yet. So I play it coy, hide behind my hair a lot (at least until that fifth drink, when my alter ego takes over and I probably say something along the lines of “I’m a little bit famous, can I grope your bottom?”) and attempt to keep everything as vague as I can.
Because book leads inevitably to blog. And my name is now connected to this blog in every conceivable search engine. Nasty pictures taken by photographers in the pay of tabloids who were clearly given the brief that they should attempt to look down my top, or up my skirt, are on display. Anonymity, however relative and fragile a concept that was, is no longer an option. And that is not always a good thing.
Twice recently I received worried emails the day after meeting someone new, the senders fretting about whether they were about to find themselves the subject of a forthcoming blog post (they won’t, I don’t cross those boundaries without permission of sorts). And those are the ones who knew what a blog was before we met. Those people who don’t know must undoubtedly think I am some sort of narcissistic self-centred weirdo when they hear that I share slices of my personal life with the internet at large.
And yes, those people were boys. And yes, what I’m really concerned about here, is whether it will hamper my chances of success on the dating market, my chances of finding someone a bit special once I’ve got my current teenage phase well and truly out of my system. Because you’ve got to admit that things are a little unequal, not to say unbalanced, if menfolk that I meet are able to read about my whole life on the internet before our second date, a state of affairs that leaves me feeling at something of a disadvantage.
So, it will have to be a blogger. Apparently there are currently three million blogs in France, so hopefully at least a handful are not written by teenagers and girls.
I’ll keep you, ahem, posted.