“It is either a mugger who is going to kill me or ‘What if it is all romantic?'”
This is Amanda, describing a lost chance. At romance. In Paris.
Paris is really interesting in many, many, many ways, but one of the coolest things about Paris is how many movie theaters it has. I thought that in the US we were big mediaphiles; we are nothing compared to the Parisians. They come out with these little books, that are basically catalogs of the movie theaters that are playing. Then in the back is an even bigger section and it just movies, like A-Z movies. Any movie that want to see, it is going to be playing somewhere in the city that week. You can just flip through, it is old movies, new movies. Basically I got this book and I look through it and I found Blade Runner, which is my most favorite movie and I was to young to see it in the theaters as a kid.
I found this one little tiny theater in Paris that plays Blade Runner every Monday night, starting at 10 to midnight. I looked up the address, got my little Metro map out and I went and hunted down this little theater. And of course I arrive late, because I am always late. So, I’m creeping in–it is a small little theater, maybe 15, 12 seats–I’m kind of shuffling in, trying to get in without disturbing the movie. There is like clumps of friends–people who came together–then there is like one other lonely soul who came by themselves. This guy with dark hair and brown eyes, just sort of right in the row behind me. I was wearing my big red beret, but it is not really a beret, it was my floppy Rembrandt hat. I situated myself in the front and to the right of him so he wouldn’t have this big giant ball hat in the way of his viewing of Blade Runner. I squashed down.
I’m sitting there, watching my movie by myself in Paris, there is this other guy and he is watching his movie. The movie ends and because I was trying to be all cool, like, “I go to artsy theaters to watch old movies”, I, of course, sit through the credits. I’m not reading the credits, but that is the cool thing to do. But I get up and the guy sitting behind me, he gets up to. I guess he had his own reasons for watching the credits, maybe he was actually reading them, because I wasn’t.
I get out and he sort of shuffles along beside me, we leave the theater, and then we are sort walking the same way together. And whenever you are–I guess it is midnight now–so whenever you are alone on the street and there is someone sort of behind you or to the left, sort of at that blind spot, you are slight paranoid, “Oh my God it is a French mugger! He went to that movie just so he could find somebody in a red beret and mug them!” These were the stupid thoughts that you have. And then there is that sort of other goofy thought that you are having, “That was that guy all by himself with the cute brown eyes, oh, he is walking the way I’m walking, I wonder if I could look over and see him, then talk to him.” I was having those two things in my head, “It is either a mugger who is going to kill me” or “What if it is all romantic?”. I could just turn around and he’d say “Hullo!” and speak perfect English, because my French is like a toddler talking.
I didn’t say anything and we turned, we go down into the Metro, he is still there, we are going the same way. It makes perfect sense, there is only one Metro stop there. He gets on the same train with me down inside the tunnel, but I sit on the right side of the train and he sits on the left of the train. I’m sitting there thinking, I’m sitting in my chair thinking “I should look over and smile at him, that lonely movie theater boy.” I might not be able to talk to him, but for all I know he is an American. I have no idea. I should smile or say hello or “Good movie” or something. I’m planning these things out, then, no, I’m just gonna sit here and look out the window. “I’m not gonna look over there.” You have that weird sense that someone else is doing the exact same thing as you, you are not sure, but you are pretty sure that you are making it up. No, it is just me, I’ll just sit here and fiddle.
Probably five stops later, the train stops, he gets up and getting to leave the train. “Well I can look now, while he is leaving, now I can look and smile at him all I like, he has his place to go.” I sort of watch him get off, as soon as he gets off, the first thing he is looking at is me. And I’m staring at him. He’s staring at me. We both smile, I wave, he stops on the platform. He moves to get back on the train, then the doors close.
There was that instant were you realize “Yes, the whole time he was sitting there he wanted to turn and talk to me and the whole time I was sitting here I wanted to turn and talk to him, and neither one of us are turning and talking to the other one.”
I am at the window and the train starts to go, I sort of put my hand up, I don’t know if it was was a frantic “Hello!” or it was like “Oh, stop train… stop!” I put my hand against the window, I’m looking at him, then he starts to follow the train. He jogs and I watch him and he watches me. Then I lose him at the end of the platform, I was just thinking “I just missed that, we could have talked, might have been nothing.”
I always wonder; if I had gone back to that theater to see the Monday night 10 to 12 Blade Runner showing, did he come back, to find out who the girl in the red beret was?
Losing Something by Jody Stephens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.