Blog entry by Sam Sompkins
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.”
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 planet.
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.”
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 their children.”
What a master of the mind fuck! How has this person managed to make me feel guilty, judgmental and heartbroken in one fell swoop? I realize I’ve been there for hours, listening to him leap from one subject to the next. He says inappropriate things to other patrons, makes weird comments about my body and sex, then chastises himself as if even he’s shocked to hear himself make such remarks.
“I could get laid whenever I wish.” Nicolas scans the room. “But these women are like biscuits in milk. They dissolve immediately. But you are solid, you understand me.”
I feel as if I’m standing at the edge of the tornado in Twister, watching things get sucked in and chucked out. I’m waiting to get hit by a stray cow.
“You’re my soul mate,” Nicolas says. “I’ve told you everything and you’re still here.”
Nicolas takes me in his arms and I become the pussycat trying to get away from Pepe LePew. ‘Yes, I’m still here,’ I wonder. ‘Is being alone worse than this?’
I take a cab home, Nicolas sends a text letting me know we’re finished. Despite considering me a soul mate less than an hour before, he now feels emotionally unavailable. Relieved, I spend the next several months joking about him with friends, imitating his manic gestures and referring to him as ‘French Psycho.’
But seeing Nicolas the other night, trying to endear himself to yet another woman wasn’t such a hoot. Everyone has reasons why they can’t make relationships work. They’re insecure, too picky, damaged. But these are things we have control over. Imagine being a stunningly handsome, whip smart, super successful man who can’t keep a woman, a wife, or even his own family and child in his life because of a sickness he can’t control. That’s not funny. That’s sad.Related Reading: