The other night, I saw Nicolas with a new girl. He seems to go
through them like Kleenex. When I see him around, I get a raunchy
desire to press up against him. But I also feel relief that I
probably, quite literally, dodged a bullet.
Our story went down like this:
I meet him at a bar the night after Christmas ‘08. I’m with
friends, he’s drinking alone. He’s tall and gorgeous with black hair
so dark you’d think it would chill your fingers to run them through.
When I sit beside him, he says, “whoever gets the bartender’s attention
first gets to spank the other.”
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I should slap him or at least roll my eyes. I don’t because he
makes my knees quake. He says he’s French, name’s Nicolas. I ask what
he does for a living.
“Mergers and acquisitions.”
The hair on the back of my neck rises. “Have you ever read ‘American Psycho?’”
“Yes.” He flashes a sinister grin. “And I’m going to pull out your fingernails with pliers.”
Two strokes of crazy, but I’m still there. Nicolas is beguiling.
He speaks in caustic melodies as if the words are coming too quickly,
he moves as if his soul is on the verge of eruption. He’s brilliant,
funny and intense, centering in as if I’m the only other person on the
He tells me his family didn’t call from France to wish him a Merry
Christmas and he spent the day alone. But this isn’t the worst that’s
ever happened to him. If I want to know more, he says, I have to go on
a date with him.
And there I am the next night, transfixed by this icy hot tower of
masculine perfection and social dis-ease. Nicolas talks a mile a
minute about the hunt of big business and the sweet taste of success.
Suddenly, he’s fascinated by me again and asks about my family. I
describe my kinfolk but he’s intrigued most by the father I never
knew. Nicolas, turns out, is a father himself.
After years of Nicolas devoting himself to merging and acquiring and
moving back and forth to the US, his ex felt neglected. So she took
his son to some remote French village and forbids Nicolas from seeing
him. They’ve been battling for half a decade.
“She and her family make lies about me.” His teeth are gnashing.
“They said I fed him ice cream when I know he’s lactose intolerant.
They say I cheated on her, this isn’t true.”
Nicolas is talking about this much longer than appropriate, his voice rising, everyone around us getting edgy.
“Now,” Nicolas continues, “they have taken a restraining order against me.”
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I back away. He questions my nervousness so I say, “you can’t just
‘get’ a restraining order on someone. There has to be a reason.”
Nicolas glares. “Can’t you give me the benefit of the doubt? I’m
trying to confide in you, to let you see who I am, not everything is
perfect. But you put me in a box. I ask only for compassion. Do you
know what it’s like to have your child taken from you? I told you
because I want you to understand me. And because you don’t know your
father, I want you to know there are men in the world who care about