Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Eyes Have It

All right. If you are my mother or my children or any of my Episcopalian friends and kin, please stop reading now. Right here. Please go into the other room or onto another screen, back to your Free-Cell, your Facebook, or your New Yorker magazine or whatever and let me tell this to the rest of the gang. (For heaven's sake, give me this one break. It's taken me a year of being in France and adjusting my prim sensibilities in order to have the gumption to take this public.) Bye!

Good, they're all gone now? The doors are closed and it's just us? Now I can whisper to you about losing my virginity in France. My eye-sex virginity, that is.

It was a year ago, in the innocence of springtime. I'd only been in France a few months. The setting was so... mundane. There I was, relaxing in the front passenger seat of K's rental car in Normandy, having spent a rejuvenating weekend in the countryside. We were parked at a grungy Esso station near Routot en route back to Paris; K was inside looking for the cashier, to pay for a tank of gas. Ensconsed in the back seat, K's older sister Pamela was peering down through her reading glasses, absorbed with the needlepoint Becassine pillow cover she was stitching to take home to New England. I leaned back and gazed out the window aimlessly.

A car circled around in front of ours and stopped -- a Renault Espace, of all things, France's own version of the mini-van. The driver glanced over through the frame of his open window; then for no apparent reason, he began staring intensely in my direction. Handsome, with soft chestnut-colored hair curling at his shirt collar. It was too far to judge, but I believe his eyes were brown or deep hazel. At first, not to be intimidated or flustered, I stared right back. Slowly he edged his mini-van forward a few meters, while still engaging that penetrating Look. It was Just One of Those Things. Now our gazes were locked as if magnetized. We continued staring. Intensely and intently. Eventually I realized this was no ordinary staring contest. This was of a higher order.

It was surprisingly electric, that Look. It zapped straight into me, and down my spine. Finally, without budging a centimeter, I murmured ventriloquist-style, "Oh my god, this is just incredible."

Pamela perked up, stopped her needlepoint and piped from the seat behind me. "What? What's incredible?"

"Uh, I think ...I'm having eye sex right this very minute with the man in that car," I smiled ethereally, but I was failing miserably at being nonchalant.

"Wherewherewhatman," quizzed she, now totally uninterested in Becassine and craning forward to see the Man. "What do you mean, 'eye sex?'" her voice spiked.

"Shhh!" I hissed. "Um, um, I don't exactly know," I mumbled in a low voice, not being at my most eloquent and unwilling to make the slightest movement. "I'm just having... eye sex ...with the gorgeous guy that grey van over there."

Pamela started giggling excitedly, bobbing to the side to get a peek. I continued staring through the windshield, Mona Lisa inside my vehicular bubble. Transfixed. This was pretty good, this French eye-sex. The Look. The Return Look. Pulse racing. The fantastic distant promise that we all knew was going absolutely nowhere. I was transported.

Presently K crossed through our sight line and plunked down in the driver's seat to start the engine. The spell was broken, and the Espace guy gradually pulled out of the station with a final lingering glance. I noticed a pair of baby seats in the back of his van as it rolled by.

Still giggling like a schoolgirl, Pamela reported to K, "You missed the action. Polly says she was just having 'eye sex' with a guy in another car."

"What's that, EYE sex?" asked no-nonsense K. "What on earth do you mean?"

I fluttered down to terra firma from my lovely distant planet. "Hmm, I don't really know what I mean," I shrugged merrily. "All I know is that two minutes ago I was an eye-sex virgin. And now I'm not."

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