petite anglaise

April 19, 2005


Filed under: mills & boon — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:14 pm

Prior to meeting Mr Frog, one other Frenchman stole petite anglaise’s heart, a long time ago. Well, it wasn’t exactly a Frenchman, more of a Frenchboy. Or a FrenchToyBoy, to be precise.

I was twenty-one, spending a year living in Rouen while working as an assistante d’Anglais in a Lycée in a nearby town. I should add that I already had a boyfriend of two years, from university, with whom I was thoroughly smitten. Or so I had thought.

Strolling around the pedestrian centre of Rouen with a couple of girlfriends, we had paused by the famous Gros-Horloge to buy crèpes from a street vendor when I laid eyes on him for the first time. My friend Claire gave me a nudge and pointed out a tall boy striding towards us with an Alsatian on a leash, flanked by a couple of shorter friends. “That’s Mr R’s son. You know, the English teacher who invited me over for dinner with his family last week. He’s not bad looking, is he?”

I looked up, made eye contact. Then recoiled, with a sharp intake of breath. I felt as if I’d been shot, saved only by a bulletproof vest. I knew in an instant, without the palest shadow of doubt, that if he would have me, the boyfriend and I were history.

I don’t know what it is that makes a person react so physically to a complete stranger, seen but not yet spoken to. I don’t possess much in the way of spiritual beliefs, but after that violent jolt, which defied any rational explanation, notions like meeting someone known in a previous life, or having a single pre-destined soul mate suddenly seemed less far-fetched, even to a sceptic like myself.

Weeks passed and my all-consuming obsession with the boy deepened, fuelled by a few excruciating evenings in each other’s company amongst mutual friends, during which I was incapable of forming a coherent sentence whenever he looked my way. We kissed, finally, in Paris, in the dark, laid out in sleeping bags on a friend’s floor. Surrounded by other slumbering bodies.

What followed was unquestionably the most intense relationship I have ever experienced. And by far the most unhealthy, the most turbulent. Raw, jagged emotion, fated to be as damaging as it was thrilling. The boy: brooding, moody, subject to bouts of depression. Me: insanely possessive, jealous and insecure. Uncharacteristically so, in fact. The product of a vulnerability that only he seemed to awaken in me.

I was terrified that The Boy would meet a French girl of ‘his own age’ at Rouen university. Eaten alive by a corrosive jealousy when he talked (far too often) about his ex-girlfriend, or left her letters lying around his bedroom (on purpose?). Knowing all the while that I would be returning to university, in England, in a few short months’ time, and aware, on some level, that this was not the sort of relationship which would survive in long-distance mode.

We met, many years later, in a bar in Paris, and raked over the embers together. He looked different: short haired, fuller faced. No longer any trace of the pronounced cheekbones and endearing moody smudges beneath his green eyes that had once held such a power over me. That old chemistry seemed perilously intact, however, and we resolved not to meet again.

It was safer that way.


  1. Meet French bloke aged 21
    Fall passionately in love
    Eventually split up
    Rake over old coals several years later…

    Sounds spookily familiar to me

    I really must blog about that…

    Comment by witho — April 19, 2005 @ 3:47 pm

  2. I have twice experienced that punch-to-the-gut, instant, inexplicable passion. The first time, it was someone I did know slightly, but had never previously thought twice about – till I made electric eye contact one day; it resulted in a doomed, obsessive crush that I never quite got over. Until the second time, with a total stranger. To whom I’m now blissfully married. Oh yes, I believe in soulmates.

    Comment by Scroobious — April 19, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

  3. Petite, you are quite brilliant! I had shivers down me spine from reading that one!

    Comment by Antipo Déesse — April 19, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

  4. well, I have to admit I made myself quite dizzy reliving the whole thing

    Comment by petite — April 19, 2005 @ 5:36 pm

  5. I love your blog. It regularly starts me thinking about so many aspects of life which, if left unconsidered, would be cast aside unappreciated.

    This one prompted me to post for the first time as I experienced this flash of passion nearly 11 years ago when 19 yrs old. He turned out to be French as well. Now married with our own froglette. No regrets, no probs.

    Still dream about my first love though, I don’t think you ever quite forget the first time you’re kissed.

    Comment by Thistle — April 19, 2005 @ 6:12 pm

  6. Was that 11 years ago then ? Funny, I was a student in Rouen at that time. Yeah, one among 30,000. Still, I can’t help thinking to myself that, according to the “Small world’s law”, I might have met your boyfriend somewhere. Of course, the “Gros Horloge” is almost the only place people refer to in Rouen, so well, everyone’s been there :)

    Comment by shellorz — April 19, 2005 @ 7:55 pm

  7. Ahh – the intense, unhealthy, passion – what memories that brings back!! For me it started when I saw the most beautiful pair of eyes swimming past me in the pool when I was at the Université de Perpignan. The rest of his body wasn’t bad either . . . and the rest was inevitable. Too much emotion, too many reasons for it not to work out, tho he asked me more than once to marry him. I haven’t seen him since 1985 (“Il y a vingt ans à peine” – who sang that song anyway?), not talked to him since 1989 (after he was married – he seemed way too pleased to hear from me and I resolved not to ever try to get in touch again.) If I’d’ve married him we would certainly have been divorced by now and it would not have been pleasant.

    I still do Google searches on his name from time to time, but I’ve gotten no recent hits on it. (I have seen his wife’s name online recently and his son’s – an unusual family name, so it’s not difficult to be sure it’s them.) About 2 1/2 years ago I had the most incredibly vivid dream one night that he had come to say goodbye because he had been killled in a car accident – he just wanted to say good bye and ask how my life had gone. So vivid, I woke up absolutely convinced the dream was true and that I’d had a visit from a ghost!! I walked around grieving for several days!! Maybe that was just my way of finally letting go. For all I really know, he’s alive and well . . .

    I am a better person because I knew him, but also a better person now than I would have been had we stayed together.

    Comment by Susan — April 19, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

  8. See, now I am going to look all the freaks in the street who propose marriage (or other indoor pursuits) to medirectly in the eye before I tell them to bugger off. Just to make sure.

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — April 19, 2005 @ 8:03 pm

  9. I have been smitten and burnt with various crushes so many times… I live for the rollercoaster. However, only one boy, a Polish Genius, has ever struck me so hard as to leave me breathless and mournful. Now… we are back in contact. There’s still chemistry, but I’m willing to pretend that I’m grown-up now… because I am. And I resist, because I choose. There’s love, but once the path is not taken… for me, it’s a path closed.

    Comment by nardac — April 19, 2005 @ 9:47 pm

  10. struck me so hard as to leave me breathless and mournful

    Ooooh, flashback…

    Comment by Iain — April 19, 2005 @ 11:17 pm

  11. ??? I’m not sure I understand Iain’s reaction… is this another baseball thing?

    Anyways, I also hope nobody will take this literally… as in he struck me physically! No, what I am talking about is pure metaphysical violence.

    Comment by nardac — April 20, 2005 @ 12:25 am

  12. Oh Petite, you channeled my experience, too. Mine was more recent and I’m still trying to train myself not to re-open the wound.

    Thanks for giving us all a good read with your blog!

    Comment by Alicia — April 20, 2005 @ 2:37 am

  13. Bravo, Petite! I enjoyed your post and the trip down memory lane that it inspired.

    Comment by Bob — April 20, 2005 @ 5:33 am

  14. Hmmm petite, having read your last two posts I can’t help wondering…are you missing a bit of romance in your life?
    It’s true that when you’re a worn out mum, with a full time job to boot, people forget that, once upon a time, you wore sexy clothes without weetabix on them, the man in your life spoilt you rotten and a bed wasn’t just for collapsing into at the end of the day!! But that hot chick is still in there, and perhaps a bit of passion and spontanaeity would bring her back to the surface….
    Or maybe I’m wrong, and maybe (probably) when I say ‘you’ I mean ‘I’ …

    Comment by suziboo — April 20, 2005 @ 9:24 am

  15. Blimey…

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — April 20, 2005 @ 9:54 am

  16. I’m with suziboo, petite. Methinks ye might need a little kindling in ye ‘froggy fire’.

    Comment by sammy — April 20, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  17. I think this is more a nostalgia for a younger me, rather than a cry for help in the present (listening Mr Frog? I thought not)

    but I did half expect a flurry of indecent proposals from male readers :wink:

    Comment by petite — April 20, 2005 @ 10:22 am

  18. ooooh those late night google searches! i’ve refound many of the nice blokes but that nasty (green eyed soul mate i never quite got over who left suddenly by letter) one got away. probably a good thing since he might wreck my home.

    Comment by ruth — April 20, 2005 @ 10:45 am

  19. ??? I’m not sure I understand Iain’s reaction… is this another baseball thing?
    No, for once, it wasn’t a baseball thing ;-) Just the memory of the kind of relationship that leaves you “breathless and mournful”

    Comment by Iain — April 20, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  20. Wow! Petite, you’re back to your best winsome form. This is brilliant stuff that deserves a wider audience. I’m convinced there’s a future best selling book in there somewhere followed by a series of blockbusting movies. Can I be your agent?

    Comment by Parkin Pig — April 20, 2005 @ 2:18 pm

  21. I adored this story. Ice cold descriptions with the mud of it not very far away from the surface of these waters… Sail away from that spot…

    Comment by stephan — April 20, 2005 @ 2:38 pm

  22. why is it that the most intense ones are always the unhealthiest?

    Comment by mainja — April 20, 2005 @ 2:53 pm

  23. It’s like ben and jerry’s Mainja…

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — April 20, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

  24. To Anyone Worried About My ‘Froggie Fire’.

    It’s alright, look at my horoscope from 20 minutes:

    “Vous traversez une période propice aux réconciliations. Tout s’arrange par un coup de baguette magique.”

    Comment by petite — April 20, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

  25. That’s all right then!! By the way, a belated happy birthday to Tadpole…

    Comment by suziboo — April 20, 2005 @ 4:16 pm

  26. belated? it’s in June?

    Comment by petite — April 20, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

  27. Petite, you are a top blogger. Great writing; so evocative.

    Comment by Zinnia Cyclamen — April 20, 2005 @ 6:00 pm

  28. Hello !
    I wrote a comment about the evening “Paris blogue-t-il ?”
    Nice to have met you !
    (Sorry for my very bad english)
    See you soon, maybe…

    Comment by Jean-Pierre — April 20, 2005 @ 7:01 pm

  29. I’ve been reading your page for a while now … this entry really brings back all the thoughts and memories of the past …

    Hmm… anyway, lovely blog, thanks!

    ~ J

    Comment by Janey — April 20, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

  30. Oops!! Was looking at *other* site, saw the heading and balloons but somehow missed the big number’1’on the cake…

    Comment by suziboo — April 21, 2005 @ 8:34 am

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