I don’t know anyone in Quebec. I know people all over the world but no one in Canada. Normally quite adventurous I was feeling down at the thought of being away for nearly a week, in a hotel room, and not knowing a single soul. I asked friends for contacts. I posted on Facebook asking for introductions. Nothing. I did get a list of clubs, restaurants and cafes, shopping districts, sights to see but no personal contacts. That’s when I came up with the idea of connecting with people on Match.com. If I were lucky, I could have a date and a tour guide wrapped into one!
I searched match.com and found a small number of men in the vicinity I would be visiting. I immediately noticed that the men in Quebec didn’t post attractive photos or they just weren’t attractive like the men in NYC or LA. Bummer. I continued to hunt for a suitable date. Some profiles were in French, others in English, and some in a combo of the two languages, My French was good enough to decipher the profiles. My vocabulary wasn’t terrible but my conversation is. I was leaning toward an English speaker. I contacted three of the more attractive men. I heard back from two who seemed excited at the idea of meeting an American tourist. One offered to be my tour guide if I promised to speak only French and he would only speak English. I thought that sounded fun and fair.
The other gentleman was more attractive and younger, had a more playful profile, and said he would love to “hook up”. Two dates in one week while I was away would be perfect! I was so pleased. And then I wondered if “hook up” in Quebec was the same as in the states. I panicked. Was he expecting a sexual liaison or was it simply a general phase for meeting up?
Well, worry not. The “hook up” dude had to run up to the Laurentians (the mountains nearby. From what I heard many people left the city on weekends and went to the country homes there – kInd of like going to the Hamptons for the weekend.) He invited me to join him. I politely declined. Being in another country (although only Canada not Afghanistan) meeting a stranger and going to his cabin in the mountains seemed like the beginning of a horror movie where the naive woman winds up as dinner for the fit, rugged, charming outdoorsy guy with an accent.
So instead I made plans with Olivier. He would pick me up at me at my hotel (maybe this wasn’t such a wise move). I got ready and looked at his profile one more time to make sure I would recognize him when we met. This time when I looked I noticed three photos I either missed the first time (I find that hard to believe) or he had recently uploaded new additional photos. They are below. Draw your own conclusions:
If these photos had been on the profile page from the “hook up” guy who invited me to the mountains it would have made much more sense. And the movie I had been imagining would now be a psycho-sexual horror blockbuster – a 50 Shades of Grey meets Cape Fear.
But alas it was Olivier’s profile. And he would be at my hotel momentarily. I reminded myself to relax. I was a grown up. I went down to the hotel lobby and met Olivier. He was sweet and more attractive than his profile photos. We walked to a busy street filled with high-end shops and a multitude of bars, cafes, and restaurants. We went to a well know one where we shared stories of love, loss and the ever-changing game of dating: Plenty of Fish, a Quebec only dating site, and match.com. “I’m a Parisienne in a city of mostly Canadians. It’s hard sometimes. The mentality is different.”
The sightseeing that I was hoping to do never happened. Olivier had had a long night – the Paris terror attacks had happened the night before. He explained, “It was a short night. I had the news on, and I was checking in on friends in Paris” I understood completely. I had been in New York City on 9/11 and watched the towers burn down in person and over and over again on television.
I told him about being in Paris not long after 9/11. I was looking for the Picasso Museum or a place for breakfast, I can’t remember. I do remember coming across a tribute to 9/11 – a mural in red,white and blue. I stood frozen at the wall when a Parisienne spoke to me. He saw I was moved. When he learned I was from New York he was so empathetic, so kind. I could see his eyes swell up as did mine. He reached out and embraced me – this random stranger. We hugged for what seemed like forever. I wish I could hug all of Paris today.
Olivier’s Match.com photos didn’t matter any longer. We had bonded on a much more important level. I didn’t care if he had a foot fetish or was into some kind of masked fantasies a la 50 Shades of Grey.
As we parted Olivier said, “Thank you for helping me forget life for a few hours.” We hugged. It wasn’t a standard match.com hug but something far bigger.
The lovely Hotel Omni Mont-Royal is located at 1050 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3A 2R6, Canada