Daniel Welsh is a 20 year old Sunderland student spending a year teaching 14 year old french kids English. Each month he’ll share his experiences with So So Gay…
If you know anything about me already, you’ll be aware that dating is not my strong point. From my first ever date aged 17 (where days before my friend decided, in a fit of hysteria, to cut a crooked fringe into my hair which stopped a good few centimeters above my eyebrows) to a now notorious date last year where I drank an entire bottle of wine and created a hysterical scene culminating in me weeping alone on the metro home; it’s fair to say that pinpointing a “worst date” from my repertoire would be an impossible task.
However, aged 20 and away from home for the first time in my life I decided it was time for a change. I was going to forget about my shameful dating history, and look ahead. I was going to go and find myself some French boys. And so, my fellow English assistants and I hit the streets for our first night out together, ready to paint the town rouge in search of the finest garçons Le Mans had to offer. The only difficulty, it quickly emerged after a few glasses of white wine, was that we weren’t really sure where to find them.[pullquote_right]pinpointing a worst date from my repertoire would be an impossible task.[/pullquote_right]We were all still new in town and, as we went through our blind-leading-the-blind routine, our obliviousness was clearly starting to show when we heard a cry from a bystanding group of French youths:
“Vous êtes anglais??? Anglais???” they demanded of us. We nodded enthusiastically, pleased to hear signs we may not be the only English-speakers in the immediate vicinity. “We can show you bar..very good,” they explained.
Admittedly, we should have probably known better than to follow this group of youths to a gay bar in a city we’d only been living in for 5 minutes, if for no other reason than the fact the eldest of them was clearly no older than 17 years old, and thus still had a lot to learn in terms of where to party.
This point was proven when we arrived at the bar itself. We had found ourselves in a gay bar so seedy that Jan Moir herself couldn’t have dreamed it up. A dreary smoke machine in a corner tried its hardest to mask the sight of the dance floor, which was empty apart from two expressionless lesbians who were slow-dancing to a French 80s dance track. It quickly became apparent this was not to be the night I would find the French man of my dreams, and I was homeward bound tout seul.
Thankfully, as time passed, a different venture out proved more successful. This particular love story starts, as all good romances do, in McDonald’s. My friends and I had stopped for some traditional French cuisine (les McNuggets, naturellement) when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a handsome young man who seemed to be checking me out. And so I did what I always do in these situations: channeling Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, childishly chewing on the straw of my drink and throwing back my head to obnoxiously laugh at every minutely funny thing my friends had to say.
“I think that guy is looking at me”, I faux-bashfully told my friend Harriet.
And then it happened. Eye contact. Beautiful, awe-inspiring, only-slightly-awkward eye contact. This guy was ticking a lot of my boxes; he was well-dressed, and had the same pouty lips we’ve all dreamed of on our imaginary French boyfriends. Most importantly, he was clearly not opposed to a mid-week McDonalds binge meaning he wasn’t going to judge me when I got my regular fast-food fix.[pullquote_left] he had the same pouty lips we’ve all dreamed of on our imaginary French boyfriends[/pullquote_left]It became increasingly obvious that if something was going to happen I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. With my French skills still far too limited for me to approach a stranger in a fast-food restaurant on a Wednesday afternoon and make conversation, I decided the best thing to do was let my Facebook do the talking, so as I walked past his table on my way out I made sure to drop a napkin in front of him with the URL of my profile and a note saying “Ajoute-moi!” How very 2012.
Now, I am not the type of guy who would usually do something of this nature. Back home were I to see a guy I liked in a bar I’d probably spend the whole night staring at my feet, deeming him too good for me before copping off with his ugly friend and calling it a night. But this was different. I was out of my comfort zone already, so why not take a chance on an attractive stranger?
Back at my flat later that day my friend Jenni, who like me is teaching in a high school, and I waited to see if there’d been a response from my mystery French boy. To my delight there had been.
“What do you think?” I asked, as I scrolled through his pictures and wondered how I would ever learn to pronounce his multi-syllabic French surname.
Jenni fell silent for a moment.
“Hmmm”, she began. “He’s one of my students”
Featured Image by Matt Drobnik, Flickr