Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hopelessly Rafael: A Brief Parisian Anecdote

It was on my third day of my Paris trip, after my brief day trip to Versailles, that I met Rafael. I had not, up until that point, actively made any effort to seek company. I would even go so far as to say that I had been avoiding interacting too much
with anyone from the hostels and was appreciating the self explorative tone my adventures had taken. But there he was...

I was standing outside smoking a cigarette when he approached me, and though I can't remember the details of the beginning of our conversation, I do remember that he began to ask me questions as openly and inquisitively as a child, that I found it hard not to answer or to keep my little self imposed wall up. I was trying to maintain a quiet silence in my head which is sometimes good for writing. I found it nearly impossible. His smile was king, green eyes unwavering and he had a small patch of grey hair just behind his left ear (I've always found something completely endearing about prematurely grey hair, maybe I find it instantaneously warm and disarming through stereotypes of my own creation).

He loved the american language, be it in book, film or music. He seemed to love the words "nice" and "good." Often telling me, "Oh, Marcia, you are verrry nice" or "KFC was verrry good." He was from São Paulo, Brazil and we discussed in length the corruption and the danger of growing up there (it was verrrry bad). We also discussed crowded trains, families, awkwardness in front of cameras, the Parisian weather, the importance of soccer, writing, art and whatever else that crossed our minds. I introduced him to a few phrases in English and tried to help whenever he was struggling with explaining a certain concept.

We stood outside smoking cigarettes and talking till it began to rain harder (there seemed to be a little drizzle on almost all my Parisian days) and he invited me in for a drink. He told me about the night before (Verry Bad). Rafael had just arrived at the hostel, early before he could check into his room and needed to use the pay phone at the corner to let his parents know he'd arrived safely. On his way outside he ran into a girl who also happened to be from Brazil, they struck up a brief conversation in Portugese, both excited to find someone that reminded them of home. Much later when he returned to the hostel he ran into the same girl again, this time drinking with a few other people. She invited him over for a drink. Drinking turned to dancing. (She was verrrry attractive). She seemed to like Rafael a lot. So he, being 'nice' and 'good' Rafael, told her he had a girlfriend at home that he loved.

He looked at me his eyes all big and earnest, "but she didn't care. It was not very nice. You could tell that she had too many glasses of wine. I tried to leave and she kept saying stay, stay, stay. She buys me a glass of wine. I said no and she buys it anyway. Just like that. Then, do you know what she did?"

I had a guess.

"She kissed me!!"

He briefly explained the logistics between a brazilian kiss and an american kiss using hand motions (though I'm fairly sure a drunk kiss is a drunk kiss) which seemed to involve her nearly sucking his entire face. He pushed her away, maybe a minute too late, but he felt incredibly guilty. He had to tell his girlfriend because they told each other everything but he kept telling me how horribly bad he felt and how he'd left.
(I sat there maybe wanting to tell him that he shouldn't tell his girlfriend, that it was just a slip in judgement or that it was she who kissed and maybe therefor not such a big deal. He'd stopped it anyway. But I said nothing. ) The girl was upset that he pushed her away and Rafael felt bad about that too. He reiterated how attractive the girl had been.

Then he said, "The Man in me wanted to go upstairs and lie with her, but"

"Boyfriend," I supplied.

"No...the Human in me. The Human in me that loves another Human knows that my love is much bigger than that desire."

At that moment, I fell a little in love with Rafael myself. I saw in him something great and desirable which I'd felt once and had been lost along the way. He was a hopeless romantic.

He believed that he could tell his girlfriend what had happened and because they loved one another it could be worked out. That any problem could be resolved. That love was powerful. Maybe I'd
even stopped completely believing that men like that could exist.

Still there is a part of me of course, that thinks, that thought, he's young and that the world will teach him a thing or two.

But I really hope it doesn't.

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At 9:39 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

"that's really great" ... i felt guilty for not being able to keep up with you while you were telling this story... so the first thing i did when i came home was read it... what a great... 'human' i am.

At 9:41 PM, Blogger mh said...

Human Fail.


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