This post was contributed by Austin Dalley.
It had been a few weeks of living in Marseille in the south of France. I was working as an au pair, and on my days off not dedicated to scolding children in my imperfect French, I spent my time exploring the city, both by myself and in the company of dudes from dating apps. What better way to see a city than with some cute local as a guide, right? One day I started talking to a new guy, who we’ll call Oman. He was really cute (read: hot as sh!t), but he lived way on the other side of the city than me and wasn’t sure I wanted to make the trek through public transit to get there. But his English was exceptional and he was sooo good looking, so after some talking, he convinced me to meet him that afternoon, because I am weak. After an hour of commuting by bus and tram, I found his apartment building in a section of the city that I had definitely never expected to see. He buzzed me in and the inside of his building was modern and stark, which made me question my choice even more, but I pushed through the doubt and went up to his floor.
Opening the door for me, Oman greeted me with a beaming smile. “Welcome to Marseille!” he said in delightfully accented English. He led me inside to his living space, the floor sprouting with the flowers of a Persian rug, the walls lined with antique North African lounging couches dotted with velvet pillows. Sheer curtains gently swayed in the afternoon breeze, and the atmosphere was comfortable and inviting. As I admired my surroundings, Oman casually asked “Do you want to help me with the apple tart?” Sorry, what? He handed me a knife and a peeler, and motioned to a bowl of apples on the coffee table. “I’ll make the crust and you can do the apples!” So there I was, talking, laughing, and making a tarte aux pommes with this handsome stranger that a little more than an hour ago I had never even spoken to. When we were both finished with our respective jobs, he assembled it and put it in the oven. “What should we do while it bakes?” he asked innocently. “I think I can think of something,” I replied as I pulled him in.
So we had fun while it baked, our only pause being to take it out of the oven and let it cool. By the time we finished, it was ready for us to eat as our afternoon goûter with coffee Oman brewed in a french press. We hadn’t stopped talking the entire time except when we were preoccupied with, well, each other, and I realized I’d probably end up staying the night too, considering we had our coffee and tart while watching the sunset. It was quickly becoming one of the best hook-ups, rather, dates, I ever had.
But of course, this is me. So just as quickly, things took an unexpected turn.
He started looking at his phone a few times, and typed a couple messages. “My friend is going to come over tonight in a little while, that’s okay, yeah?” Oh no, I thought, is this going to be the second time in this country that I’m about to have an unplanned threesome? “I mean, would it be easier for him to come another night?” I asked. “I would, but we already planned a couple weeks ago to meet today.” Apparently my face expressed my confusion, and he added “he’s just a friend, I’m not planning anything crazy.” Okay, fine. “How long will it be till he gets here?” “A little while.” “So…what do you want to do till he gets here?” “You said you’re good at cooking, no? Do you want to help me make dinner?” By this point, I just had to go along for the ride. This night was probably going to be an experience, and sometimes you just have to let it happen. “Sure, what do you have?”
After giving him a brief cooking lesson on how to make a meal with random leftover vegetables, dinner was in the oven. “Is he on his way?” “He’s getting wine, I’m not sure how long it’ll be.” “Hopefully long enough,” I said as I went in for the kiss again. Between breaths I dragged us to his room, and just as we finished peeling each other’s clothes off for the second time, a knock on the door. Son of a bitch I thought, as I reluctantly put my pants back on and tried to fix my hair.
His friend greeted me in the living area with just as much an expression of surprise as I had when I learned he was coming. None the less we introduced ourselves; he was a thin guy, smartly dressed with trendy wire frame glasses and carefully coiffed blond hair.
A quick, northern French accent. He didn’t look like the type of guy Oman would be into, which was a relief.
Clearly just a friend.
So the night went on, we all talked about whatever and shared the dinner I made. The conversation was light, though the blond seemed to strangely focus questions on me. I noticed, but didn’t think too much of it. We ended the night with wine, and by midnight we were watching random music videos and all drunkenly singing along. Oman suggested we start a movie. About halfway through X-men, his blond friend was asleep. I gave Oman a look and we tiptoed to his bedroom to continue what we had started hours before.
Things were just getting fun again when there was a knock on the door. Oman answered as I not-that-subtly hid under the covers. After some hushed french banter, Oman got some clean pillows and gave them to him, and closed the door. “Is he staying the night?” “Yeah, he said it was too late for him to go home.” Okay, a little awkward, but whatever. We started again and not long after there was another knock. More french banter, but this time I sensed agitation. I saw him through the cracked door grab his coat, shoes, and leave. “What just happened?” “Don’t worry about it, I’ll tell you in the morning.”
I mean, we were finally alone.
We continued our business and slept in till 10 or 11 the next morning. It was only as he was serving our american style pancakes for brunch that I finally brought it up again.
“Oh yeah that was so weird, man. He had thought I had invited him on a date.”
“Isn’t he just your friend? Where did you meet him?”
“On grindr, like with you.”
“So you met him on grindr, and you weren’t interested in him, but you…didn’t tell him yet?”
“I thought he had felt the same way. He’s nice, we hung out a couple of other times, but he wasn’t really my romantic type. And he never made any moves, so I thought we were just friends.”
“I guess last night was pretty awkward for him then wasn’t it.”
“Yeah he’s been texting me all morning, saying how he’s upset with me and that he felt like he was on an episode of the bachelor competing with you for my love.”
“I feel a little bad for him, I have to say.”
“He’ll be okay. There are plenty of other men in this city. Besides, now I have this sexy American instead.”
“I guess to be fair, he didn’t remotely make a move on you last night either, so I’m not sure how he expected to get any damn rose.”
For whatever reason in our morning stupor we both lost it laughing at my bad joke, and we spent the rest of the morning eating, lounging, and talking of the ridiculousness of the night. Eventually, I did have to go, and we parted at the tram station near his apartment.
We ended up having some other long nights with each other during my time in Marseille. And while I’ve since had to leave Europe, and don’t know when I’ll be in France again, I still keep in touch. Because I have a feeling I’ll see him again. Next time we meet, I may even bring him a rose.