petite anglaise

October 22, 2007


Filed under: mills & boon — petiteanglaiseparis @ 7:30 pm

Rarely a day goes by when I don’t marvel at the fact that, even though the Boy lives in my street – our respective apartment blocks separated by four hundred metres, tops – our paths would most likely never have crossed if it wasn’t for an online dating site.

The chances of our striking up a conversation, even there – where a recherche rapide just yielded over a thousand members living in Paris and aged between 30 and 45 – were extremely slim. My search criteria, back in May, included that very age range. And the Boy, back in May, was 29. He’d only signed up for a month, and we made contact days before his subscription ended. It could all so easily never have come to pass.

Neither of us has any memory of who clicked on the other’s profile. Perhaps I was doing one of my targeted searches. Looking for people with cool jobs (I had a penchant for musicians, graphic designers and writers at the time) or scrolling through the pages of mugshots of men in my arrondissement, looking for interesting faces. In which case I may have sent him a “flash” – the dating site’s equivalent of a facebook “poke”.

What I do know – because I’ve kept it – is that the Boy sent me a curt email regarding my taste in TV series (how could I possibly think ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ was on a par with ‘House’?) and his rather provocative one-line missive stood out among hundreds of others I left unanswered, peppered with cringeworthy phrases (even for a hopeless romantic like myself) such as “j’ai cru voir un ange passer en regardant ton profil” or “il y a quelque chose dans ton regard qui m’interpelle…

We bounced a few short emails back and forth, still on the subject of TV, and I half-heartedly floated the idea of having a drink in our neighbourhood sometime, without any real conviction. Either he was playing it incredibly cool, I thought to myself, or he simply wasn’t all that keen. And as it was, at the time I was altogether too busy being infatuated with someone ridiculously unsuitable who was sending signals so mixed that deciphering them was a full-time occupation.

One fine day, after a resounding rebuttal, I went back online and set up two dates, one with a certain Fred, and one with the Boy, both of whom I had been mentally holding in reserve for a rainy day. We chatted on MSN for a few minutes, the Boy and I, and it was fun. The way the banter flowed, I was almost certain we’d get on in the flesh. It could be really cool to have a friend in the neighbourhood, I thought. I couldn’t imagine anything more than friendship: my head was still elsewhere… And frankly, the Boy was a little on the young side, at least on paper.

We met for an early evening drink Aux Folies, at the foot of the rue de Belleville, on a bank holiday Thursday. Fred (sweet guy, zero sparks) I met a few hours earlier in a pub in the Marais, after a pre-date(s) warm up lunch with a couple of good friends.

An apéro became a couple of drinks, then morphed into dinner in a nearby Thai restaurant. Dinner blurred into a couple more drinks and an invitation back to his apartment for a ‘nightcap’. It all seemed so natural, so easy – as opposed to the tortured and stressful evenings I’d been spending deluding myself about unsuitable, disinterested guy and his intentions – but there was a part of me, right up until the moment when we snuggled up on the sofa and he began to gently stroke my arm, that had decided he would make a fantastic friend, but nothing more. I was loath to jeopardize this budding friendship by having a one night stand. But when I said so, out loud, the Boy responded by planting a kiss on my lips.

Five months down the line, I still I marvel at how easy it would have been, as Tadpole would say, for us Ever Never to meet.


  1. Kismet . . . .

    Comment by sablonneuse — October 22, 2007 @ 8:35 pm

  2. Sometimes the magic really works, C. You are one lucky lady. :-)

    Comment by Beau — October 22, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  3. very sliding doors!!

    Comment by sugar007 — October 22, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  4. I’m jealous! I think fate is very important. It was obviously meant to be. Also it’s very handy having him so close! Funnily enough, this morning I was reading about another blogger who met her husband-to-be on her final day of subscription to an online dating site, when she’d totally given up hope and was bored by all the answers she was getting and then saw his….

    Comment by Hazy — October 22, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

  5. Sweet… :-)

    Comment by Karma — October 22, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  6. I couldn’t imagine anything more than friendship: my head was still elsewhere… And frankly, The Boy was a little on the young side, at least on paper.

    That’s how it was for me 12 years ago and we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this year :-) Looking back I can’t imagine why I thought there was any long-term future with any of the blokes I obsessed over. Here’s hoping you’ve found The One!

    Comment by Almost American — October 22, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  7. I think that certain people are meant to be met in life. Look back on your life. How many people could you have met in several different places, even different places that you have lived? All the important people in mine, I could have come across in at least one other way….. Romantic notion and slightly weird perhaps…. but I think that it’s fate. You were meant to meet.

    Comment by Sally Lomax — October 22, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  8. Funny how people meeting on’t t’Internet is becoming increasingly common. Five years ago if you mentioned that you’d met someone from the Internet, people read it as though you were from Mars, and a social pariah.

    It’s good that it’s becoming acceptable, people should enjoy their happiness, in whatever shape or form it comes. Plus, how else would you screen a disco full of gyrating bodies other than through a set of beer goggles!

    Paths crossing is what makes life enjoyable, the un-expected, the break from the mundane hum-drum of life, that slowly bores you to death.

    And House is much better than GA, not quite as good as ER though for intensity…

    Comment by Steve... — October 22, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  9. Petite is back! Thank you!

    And on the subject: could you be able to read Dutch, you would find a similar plot in my October 2nd post, and ten years down the line, I still can’t believe how much in love I am with that same boy who kissed me on our first date with the excuse it was the only thing that was going to make me shut me up (ok, it sounded romantic at that moment)
    So hold on to that feeling and the smile that no doubt accompanies it…

    Comment by Calypso — October 22, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

  10. Season, reason or life…? A suivre!

    Comment by Amanda — October 22, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

  11. Aw… magic! Be happy you two…

    Comment by Ariel — October 22, 2007 @ 11:19 pm

  12. I agree with Calypso – the old Petite is back with this post! Sorry Petite, but its been kind of dull for a while. I get the fact that you need to keep stuff for the book, but don’t forget your roots.

    Comment by AusFrench — October 23, 2007 @ 12:10 am

  13. Magic is right Ariel–damn the realists :-) That is why I believe in love at first sight–it does happen. Happens to me all the time lol

    Comment by Beau — October 23, 2007 @ 12:32 am

  14. At what point did you realize that the two of you lived on the same street??

    I’m way too timid for online dating a la France. I have a hard enough time deciphering the guys here, face-to-face. Throwing a computer in the mix will only complicate things for me…

    Nice story, btw…

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — October 23, 2007 @ 12:57 am

  15. You are my hero. If only I could be as level headed, yet vulnerable to the “real possibilities” in my life. I fear I will never get it right, like you have.

    Comment by Samantha — October 23, 2007 @ 1:12 am

  16. Count your blessings, enjoy them too.

    Comment by Vickie — October 23, 2007 @ 6:53 am

  17. something almost exactly parallel happened with me and my boy…i do forget your age, but my boy is a couple weeks shy of 30 and I am 35…we met online…but neither of us were looking for love…we thought it was impossible, but knew somehow we would be linked forever…
    fate is beautiful and so is it to be lucky in love:)
    i can’t wait to get your book, i’m counting the days:) I have already asked my local coffee and bookstore to order it…how about you do a book tour to skaneateles, NY…:) I know…where is that???

    Comment by kim — October 23, 2007 @ 7:27 am

  18. You’ve given me back hope that it is possible to meet decent people on an online dating site. I’ll try again. I’m also in the ‘… someone ridiculously unsuitable who was sending signals so mixed …’ situation.

    Comment by Karen — October 23, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  19. Une (ta!) jolie petite histoire qui m’apporte un grand sourire un mardi matin où il fait beau. Merci!

    Comment by raiblô — October 23, 2007 @ 11:19 am

  20. How absolutely wonderful! Lucky lucky you!

    Comment by Sarah in Marrakech (but soon Paris!) — October 23, 2007 @ 2:36 pm

  21. Amen, sister. I met my Georges on (I suspect) the same dating site, and it seemed like a one in a million shot. He signed up for a “trial subscription” which lasted only 3 days. On the 1st day he saw my profile and tried to “flash” me but I had just logged off. The next day he happened to see me online again, sent a chat request. At the time his photos and annonce still had not been approved and I never would chat with someone without a photo, normally, but he made his request in English and THAT was a novelty. I thought “what have I got to lose?” and I replied…

    Now I know the answer to that question. “Everything”. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me, already.

    We’re thinking of sometime writing in as a “success story” to that website. I spent months meeting no one worth knowing. But it only takes ONE.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — October 23, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  22. I’ve lost track if I ever knew of the age difference here. But, I’m still a toyboy after all these years–to at least one person. There was an amusing moment at a Christmas gathering of my wife’s family when one someone said “Well, I won’t reveal how much younger my husband is”. “Nor I” said one after another, until ALL, and I’ve forgotten how many, but it was about six or eight women present, all owned up. Everybody was very surprised and amused.

    We met on an island, said goodbye on the mainland and went in opposite directions, by car. Later that day we bumped into each other in a supermarket in a town many miles away. “Come and have a drink” I said. And so we did. It turned out I had no money at all and had to be bought a drink, something I am reminded about occasionally after 28 years. Indeed, I was a penniless student, scrounging a lift, so it was complete chance. Of course I was completely innocent of this family propensity for cradle-robbing, as my mother put it so kindly.

    Comment by Eats Wombats — October 23, 2007 @ 6:30 pm

  23. it was meant to be!
    (i’m taking harriet to morocco next year – can i pick your brains?)

    Comment by rivergirlie — October 23, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  24. EXACTLY the same thing happened to me!! Except I was convinced that all men on Internet dating sites were idiots-after numerous dating disaters in 2006. It took him about 7 dates to convince me otherwise-bless him- the “Frog (him) and Rosbif (me)” have now been together 10 months. No 21, 17, Petite and I all agree that Internet dating works!! Just go for it!

    Comment by Anglaise in Toulouse — October 23, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  25. Dear Petite,

    I’m leaving a comment for the first time :)

    I’m very happy for you !
    But I still don’t understand how is it that a pretty and smart person like you need to go on a dating site to find someone … ;) ;)

    Comment by Guru — October 23, 2007 @ 10:19 pm

  26. Well, I guess he knew! Happy to read of good things happening there :)

    Comment by Terry — October 23, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  27. Guru: sometimes you want to meet someone outside your immediate circle of friends and increase the odds a little, I think…

    I totally recommend it – to anyone – as long as you can be bothered to filter out a lot of unsuitable candidates. 4000 “flashes”, 300 emails, but I only actually went on 4 dates in the space of two months.

    I’m picky, me.

    Comment by petite — October 23, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

  28. La chance, tu l’as eu certes, mais tu l’as aussi provoquée.
    Aide toi, le ciel t’aider. ;-)

    Comment by marie-hélène — October 23, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  29. Guru, I think that’s a commonly held misconception…that if you’re attractive, intelligent, etc. then you don’t need to “resort” to utilizing a dating site.

    I see dating sites as just another way to meet people, more so, people outside of my immediate circle. I also see it as a good, non-committal way to browse the dating pool without having to actually go out on dates/cafe meets/etc….that is, until you’re ready. I guess that I’m trying to say that I find it “safer” than traditional dating.

    With that said, I’ve only used an online site once, not the same one Petite has used, but it was French nonetheless…I was very upfront about wanting to meet French people that I could just chat with in French. And if he was attractive, single, etc. BONUS POINTS! Anyway, I found it a great tool for meeting people that I could establish a relationship with (non-committal or otherwise) BEFORE arriving in France.

    Anyway, just wanted to say that dating sites are not just for unattractive, unintelligent folks… ;)

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — October 23, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

  30. Good on you Petite! Even though you passed on the guys who talk about angels (bleh!), you found one that suits! Being a single mum can be so desperately lonely (I know).

    Comment by Peggy — October 24, 2007 @ 7:57 am

  31. My boy and I lived in the same suburb as well.. caught the same tram… but it was years before we happened to be in the same place on the night we met, when he caught my somewhat inebriated eye and I busted a move on him. When the next day we both traced our movements of the fateful night before, we’d been in three different places just seconds before and after one another. He’s a good boy, and he told me once, ‘sometimes I start to panic when I think how close we came to never meeting, and I wouldn’t have you now.’

    Good karma, fate, happy coincidence.. whatever it is, it is timely and worth waiting for.

    Comment by Lala — October 24, 2007 @ 8:28 am

  32. I do like the title of that post. Brings to mind the timeless theme tune, which was doubtless your intention… ‘that’s when good neighbours become good friends’…nice one.

    So is The Boy a reader then? Or is he waiting for the book? ;)

    Comment by Suziboo — October 24, 2007 @ 9:54 am

  33. The Boy has been following the blog since I met him, but hasn’t read backwards in time, if you see what I mean.

    I’m in two minds about him reading the book: on the one hand I’d like him to know what I do, to feel proud of me, but on the other, I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about him reading about my last relationship in intimate detail…

    Comment by petite — October 24, 2007 @ 10:14 am

  34. You have come a long way since the beginning of this blog, well done! I think you should get customised miraculous medal rings (with insets of rhino and frog w.ab.s’ mugs on them) for each other.

    Comment by guccibitch — October 24, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

  35. This was THE best post in a long while.

    The story was straight forward and progressed nicely. Lately, many of your posts were experiments in leading us through a long setup to a mediocre payoff that was often quite vague. This led me to stop checking back so often. I almost deleted your bookmark the other day.

    This post was much different. I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of the olden days before you were dooced.

    You Rock. I love you again.

    Comment by Ben — October 24, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  36. oh so true – but then these examples give hope to us all – me and my boy just celebrated 12 yrs of marriage – all because he turned up at a party….
    hope it continues to be great – oh and good luck with the book – perhaps Billie Piper will play you in a TV version.?

    Comment by Liz — October 24, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

  37. Well, well, well… in a previous post, you just cheated and copied from “the best 19th century litterature” (quote of myself), and now you do it again! Cheating and copying from the best fairy tales. I hope everyone here is conscious of our great luck. When CS is hailed as the new Jane Austen, and Aux Folies is reknown as the new Marché de la Butte, we are the (not so) few who will have lived the story “live”. Probably not a bankable story for us, but a very rejoicing one indeed!

    Comment by David — October 24, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  38. Brings back memories of meeting my better half – on the internet back when it was rare to do so.

    We met in the “Cock and Camel” in George Street, Oxford for a drink one Sunday lunchtime.

    I must have done something right… 7 years ago now.

    Comment by Jonathan — October 24, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  39. Hang on to this one! They get younger and younger as we get older and older.

    Comment by Caroline in Rome — October 24, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

  40. P’tite–re the boy’s reading your book–you think maybe that he doesn’t realize you’ve had a past life? He’s definitely has proof in the form of Tadpole. As for other lovers, give him credit, girl–he sounds like a man with his head really together. And that is a rare commodity in this world. So don’t worry–trust his common sense and his love–after all he chose you and that’s common sense and love enough for any one man IMO. :-)

    Comment by Beau — October 24, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  41. love the story. and you write so well, you had me hanging off my chair.

    Comment by delphine — October 24, 2007 @ 11:08 pm

  42. quel post :)

    Comment by tara — October 24, 2007 @ 11:39 pm

  43. I must say Ben sounds like a big-head.

    I’ve forgotten what I was going to say now …….. oh yes …….. is Fred a nom de keyboard? If so, it’s rubbish.
    Brilliant I might add as I sit here, playing the recorder, drawing a beautiful picture and writing to you.

    Comment by Daddypapersurfer — October 25, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  44. a lovely story indeed! meetic is crazy though, and having to chat/email all those people who suddenly think you are it is very tiring. I stopped the day I received an email saying : how could a girl like you be on meetic? Do you have a wooden leg or something?

    Comment by est — October 25, 2007 @ 6:36 pm

  45. My in-laws grew up a block away from each other in a medium sized Caribbean city. They met for the first time in New York.

    Comment by clarissa — October 25, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  46. I love that last sentence. Petite, will you marry me ?

    Comment by Parisian Cowboy — October 25, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  47. This is a lovely story, beautifully told. It’s so nice to see you happy. I have also been re-reading some of the posts from mid-May. I was trying to find the comment where you said something like “hasn’t it occurred to you that I might be in love” (unless it was “that I might have a boyfriend”). I will resume my search another time.

    Comment by Pierre L — October 26, 2007 @ 12:12 am

  48. I think I found it here!!

    Comment by petite — October 26, 2007 @ 12:18 am

  49. Indeed – thank you very much.

    Comment by Pierre L — October 26, 2007 @ 12:34 am

  50. This was a very croustillant post.

    Comment by corine — October 26, 2007 @ 5:50 am

  51. To be completely irrelevant… does Mr Frog have a significant other these days? He sounds so sweet, I don’t like to think of him all by himself.

    Comment by Vache Normande — October 26, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  52. ah you are back with us! I mean, what were you thinking, going off and having a life?!
    Love this one. As long as the Boy realises that a lot of your historic posts were, I think, written in a much shorter ‘to life’ time-frame ( blogging soon after the event/feeling etc) than the blog has run lately I think you’ll be fine. You’re a writer now Petite, you’ll have to get use dto bearing your soul for other s to judge! (what an awful thought)

    Comment by susie — October 26, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

  53. He’s 29?! Oh for goodness’ sake, that’s not a boy! I assure you that from the vantage point of c 20 years hence your respective ages seem quite close! :-)

    Comment by Jean — October 26, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

  54. You’re *almost* restoring my faith in internet dating….

    Almost….almost….nearly…nah….it’s gone again….

    I’m just too cynical!

    Comment by Yellow — October 27, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  55. who is “unsuitable, disinterested guy”?

    is that the guy from… err… a post where your hair is in an ashtray?!?


    Comment by kara — October 27, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  56. ah, um, no… my hair was dangling by the Boy’s ashtray I’m afraid…

    Comment by petite — October 28, 2007 @ 12:09 am

  57. A thousand members in the preferred age group? I can only wish. I have about a quarter of that number to choose from and most of them write as if they had never set foot in a school after the age of 8.

    Here’s the type of profile I see on my local site: “Looking to meet attractive,compatible woman to share this amazing journey .I know you’re out there. You are out there,right? I’ve had glimps.Yes, you are there.”

    I’m glad he’s had glimps. I wouldn’t want him to catch it from me.

    And yes, fate. That’s what it was. Hang on to The Boy. He sounds quite lovely.

    Comment by Dawn — October 28, 2007 @ 2:50 am

  58. Y’see, everyone tells me stories about how easy and effortlessly fun it is when you meet *the one*. Perhaps it’s true indeed. Enjoy!

    Comment by Confuddled — October 28, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  59. I love reading how people met. Makes me go all warm inside.

    Great timing by the Boy on the sofa snuggling and arm stroking, too. Works every time.

    Or so I’m told …

    Comment by Roads — October 28, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  60. Your reference to a Facebook poke makes me wonder, “has Facebook become the reference?”

    Comment by Lost in France — October 28, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  61. I met my boyfriend in a very similar way, 18 months later we are still fabulous. With our 10 year age gap, he had many of the reservations that you did. I’m so glad these things have worked out!

    Comment by Depina — October 30, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

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