After dismantling my apartment earlier this year and moving into a smaller place, I had a few items of furniture and equipment left over. I'd managed to sell on a few things but decided to keep a couple of the more expensive ones in the hope that I could get a decent price for them at a later date. There is one thing I can't bring myself to part with however, a nice, new, shiny oven - my single biggest (most expensive) 'grown up' purchase I'd ever made in my life. For this reason only could I not bear the thought of selling it for a mere fraction of the purchase price. As per normal, I don't really go around admitting things like this and normally joke that;
"Some French girl might bat her eyelids at me and lure me in to living with her, then I'd need an oven again".
Due to me repeating this statement frequently, close friends are on red alert whenever they see me talking to a French girl which, living not much more than 5km (3 miles) from the border with France, happens quite regularly. Some people assume I'm smiling because the French girl happens to be pretty, but my friends who are in on the joke can see the hope in my eyes when they see the conversation going well - maybe, just maybe I won't have to lose any money on the oven.
Having officially taken myself 'off the market' since the summer and wanting to concentrate on other things instead, I was surprised by and slightly intrigued with a French girl who managed to coax me into going for a drink with her shortly before Christmas. We had met at a party and after spending a few hours talking to her that night, I gallantly walked her home and was nothing but a gentleman about it. Perhaps she was impressed with my ability to find bottles of wine when everyone else thought the alcohol had run out, perhaps it was the fact that I was being silent and mysterious in the run up to us meeting. I wasn't being mysterious of course, I was being lazy and didn't really want to speak any German, it was English or nothing.
A week or so later we went out for a drink. I wasn't entirely sure if I could call it a date, I hadn't been on date for about 3.5 years and infamously didn't really go on dates in my 20's anyhow. Despite being unsure as to what I was doing, we chatted, drank beer, laughed a lot and went to our respective houses at the end of the evening. I had had the most fun night I'd had in a while and she told me she had a great time too.
A couple of male friends mulled over my predicament a couple of days later, sitting around a fireplace in a bar decked out in the style of Sherlock Holmes' house. One friend asked if we kissed;
"No, only the two kisses on the cheek, as the French love doing"
He assured me that it wasn't a date because we didn't kiss. This particular friend has been with his girlfriend since he was sixteen so I doubted his wisdom this time. The other asked what we talked about;
"Oh.. family, religion, stupid stories"
He claimed it wasn't a date because we told stupid stories and that was something that only friends did. They both admitted that it definitely did sound like a date, but that something wasn't right about it. They asked what I thought;
"Well, I personally didn't think it was a date because she has a boyfriend, in Paris".
The punchline was delivered with impeccable timing, we laughed heartily like men, sipped our beers and reclined back into our leather chairs in front of the fire - if we had been smoking pipes we would have all had a puff.
If it had been a date, I would have called it a very good one. If it wasn't a date at all, then I had just made a good friend in town and I'd have to keep the oven in the cellar for a bit longer.