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I go to Paris often on business but that doesn’t mean I ever take it for granted.  When I spend time in Paris, it’s as if I live there. I frequent the local markets, even though I’m only taking fruit back to my hotel room. I eat in local cafes, and I walk and read in the parks.  I feel at home there.

One Sunday evening, I decided to go to a café in my neighborhood, the 17th arrondissement, for dinner.  The waiter seated me in the window so I could watch les Parisiennes passing by – effortlessly chic in their casual attire.  How do they do it, I wondered.  There was nothing effortless about it for me. I sometimes felt like I was trying too hard to blend in – a dead giveaway if ever there was one.

I’m not quite sure who noticed who first but when I glanced up, I caught the eye of a man walking by.  He smiled. I smiled.  He continued on.

He then turned around and backtracked a few steps.  He was very handsome in a way that usually appeals to me:  tall with dark hair that curled about his neck and a neatly trimmed beard; call it Hugo Boss meets Patagonia.  He looked at me and made a sign that indicated he wanted to approach. I shrugged because really, what’s the use, I thought.

He inclined his head to try again and so I figured, oh why not.  I beckoned him into the restaurant.  After a brief flirtatious conversation he asked me out to dinner for the next night.  And I accepted.

We agreed to a time and a place, and he left, but not before taking my hand and kissing it. Just as he was about to go he turned back, smiled and said, “You have beautiful eyes.”

His name was Dominico (Mino) and he was originally from Sicily.  Great I thought – another Italian man (my past is littered with them) and in Paris of all places.   It was the Latin factor times two! Just what I was getting myself into?

The next evening, we met at the appointed time and place, and he was as charming and as attentive as the day before. Since this was his neighborhood, he took me to a nearby chic café for a drink before we were to head off to a local Italian restaurant for dinner.  We kept the conversation light as we walked and talked; it was also slightly suggestive of what Mino had in mind for “dessert.”

And while I had spent the day considering my options and thinking about what I would do, I had firmly decided that it would be only dinner this time. Since I came to Paris often, there would always be other opportunities. But I wasn’t about to show my cards too early and define the parameters of the evening because ,after all, I could still change my mind.

I learned quite a bit about Mino over drinks at the café that night, although how much of it was true I couldn’t say.   He was charming and courteous and he punctuated his conversation with just enough fleeting physical contact, without coming on too strong, to make me feel desired. He was very good, but I wasn’t falling for any of it, not this time.

I found his Sicilian bravado and self-confidence entertaining. And despite the fact that the average Sicilian man ensures that his lover has at least five orgasms to his one, it wasn’t long before Mino realized that it would likely take more than this one night to demonstrate his ethnic prowess.  Not that it wasn’t tempting;  it was, especially since the last time I had sex was – well, I don’t even want to think about it.  And although Iwas really missing the physical contact coupling brings, this time I decided to let my head overrule my hormones.

Every time I steered the conversation away from the topic of making love, because he didn’t just have “sex,” he seemed a bit more discouraged. Up until this point he had ignored cell phone calls, but it wasn’t long before he had to take a call from his cleaning lady. Apparently she had lost the key to his apartment and couldn’t lock the door.  He smoothly explained that a late-afternoon meeting with clients at his place had left it in a bit of a mess and, as such, it needed some tidying up.

But perhaps having a clean apartment wasn’t as urgent as he once thought.  Even if I had decided to sleep with him, it certainly wouldn’t have been at his place.  That was very presumptuous and potentially dangerous.  So rather than leave his apartment open and vulnerable, and since he lived in the neighborhood, I suggested that he go and lock up while I waited for him at the café.  I knew it would be a long wait.

Still, I decided to give Mino the benefit of the doubt. I gave him 30 minutes. During that time I finished my glass of wine and his, and I had a nice chat with the waiter.  And then I paid the bill.  Yes, I paid it and was glad to do so because the evening had cost me far less then it could have had I fallen for this handsome man on a rainy night in Paris.

The Almos AffairIn the not too distant past, I would have naively mistaken Mino’s intentions for true interest. I would have enjoyed my night and would have wanted more. I always want more especially when there’s none to be had.  Rather than be upset or disappointed, I was amused at the turn of events and rather proud of the fact that I had navigated Mino and my biological desires so well. That night I walked back to the hotel with a smile on my face that had nothing to do with sex – imagine that?

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/hdouchet

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