Mr Frog and I sit in comfortable silence, devouring our Chinese takeaway. Tadpole lies sleeping in the next room. Finding myself at a loose end on my night off, I slipped across the road for a chat. Inevitably, he and I start comparing Tadpole anecdotes, as we are wont to do. We generally end up trying to outdo one another’s stories, which brings my naturally competitive streak out to play.
For my opening shot, I describe the picture Tadpole drew of a tortoise that morning on her magic drawing board. “It was fantastic – totally lifelike, with a patterned shell. Even if it did have six or seven legs…” I wish I had omitted the last part, but it’s too late now. Mr Frog silently reaches for his new camera, a victorious smile playing about his lips, and proceeds to show me a photo of Tadpole’s perfect rendition of Brian the snail from the Magic Roundabout, complete with antennae poking through hat at the required jaunty angle.
Mr Frog: un point
petite: nul points
I skip the yellow teeth anecdote, which still smarts a little, and instead recount how Tadpole reacted to the sight of blossom drifting down from the trees which line the park on Monday morning: “Mummy,” she cried, “it looks just like confetti!”
“Oh that, yes, she said it in French this morning too,” Mr Frog replies, “on dirait des confettis…” Then, with a faux casual air: “Did I tell you that my mum taught her how to recite the whole alphabet last week?”
I wince, knowing that there is no way I can top that one without inventing something. And even I wouldn’t stoop so low as to fabricate a Tadpole anecdote.
Mr Frog: deux points
petite: nul points
I opt for a change of tack. “It’s such a shame you couldn’t make it for lunch in Belleville on Sunday,” I lament, “she got sooo excited watching a Chinese boy – he must have been about her age – eating with chopsticks. She fiddled around with hers for ages – they were massive, and the slippery kind that even I have trouble with – and I couldn’t believe it when she actually managed to pick up some chicken holding them in one hand. Half the restaurant applauded…”
The only innocent little embellishment in that sentence was the applause. Honestly. I mean, I clapped, but I’m not sure whether anyone else actually noticed.
“Yeah, I was really sorry to miss that. The photo you sent me on my mobile was really cute,” he replies, bashfully, “…but I really was far too hanged over when you texted me on Sunday…”
Tadpole competition forgotten, I quiz Mr Frog about where he goes on these long nights out of his, and with whom. In the process of easing myself back into the Paris social scene after a prolonged absence, I am curious as to which bars and clubs he frequents with his friends. I felt so out of touch the other day when I realised that the Pariscope magazine no longer has a miniature “Time Out” section inside (and probably hasn’t for several years). My confidence as a seasoned Parisienne was severely dented and hasn’t yet recovered.
Mr Frog namedrops several places I have never heard of, and I grow wistful. Just in time, I manage to prevent myself from asking whether I couldn’t tag along one evening. We are so at ease in one another’s company, that sometimes I forget that it might actually be weird to witness the father of my child flirting and chatting up girls.
And even if he didn’t mind, imagine how it could cramp his style.
“Yeah, I have a two year old daughter. Her mum and I are separated. Actually, that’s my ex over there, chatting up the dark-haired guy…”