Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the bonfire of my true love needed more fuel than my attraction to a gorgeously chiseled face, a French accent, and his skill at preparing coquilles Saint Jacques. I was in love, and I thought I understood that the key to having true love in my life was to begin by loving myself. I was pretty sure that I did, but the way I allowed myself to be treated, suggested otherwise. My beloved didn’t think that I was good enough the way I was.
In his opinion, I was an uptight ball-breaker with hair that was the wrong color; he wanted me to bleach it blonde. Teeth? Not white enough. My nails? Too short. Breasts? Too small. Skin? (Yes, skin.) Too white. You’d think I was a red-headed albino frog with fangs. I am pale, and my skin burns easily, but Bruno bought me a gift certificate for several sessions at the local tanning salon and started in on the idea of my getting breast implants, threatening divorce if I didn’t change right away. My self-esteem imploded, while at the same time, I was also in awe of his confidence.
He used to look at himself in the mirror, as he was getting ready to go out and declare, “God I’m good looking.” Then he would jump on his vintage motorcycle and speed off into the night, often not returning until the next day. Even though I had lost my mind, I adored hanging out with the “Frenchies” as I used to call them. His French friends held garden parties in the evenings, stringing twinkle lights and playing world music, the men and women in cool jeans, cigarettes of tobacco or marijuana at their lips. They talked of their international travels, their easy laughter filling the warm summer nights. I felt like I was in a new world, a secret club with a secret language that I quickly became fluent in as well. They were enlightening, exhilarating, carefree, and completely comfortable in their own skins—which I was trying to be. They lived in the moment. If they felt like making love, they could do so without getting attached. They did it for the pure pleasure, something I hadn’t quite been able to do. The casual way that the French viewed their bodies intrigued me. Men and women were never embarrassed to slip into a Jacuzzi nude together at a party. Women sunbathed topless all the time. It was completely natural to them.
Marla Martenson, matchmaker & author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker
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