This is a true story. You can’t make this shit up.
In late 2014 I was in Paris, and where else would I be at sunset if it wasn’t la Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower). The weather was perfect and there weren’t a lot of people around since it was summer ending. The sky was filled with streaks of purple and orange and the Eiffel Tower lit up every half hour, sending a sparkle of lights all over it, a shimmering delight. I was walking around the grounds minding my own business, and eventually I ended up at a spacious patch where people were sitting on the grassy floor watching the lights.
There was a girl who sat close to me, looking like she was in her twenties, with a brunette bob and cigarette jeans. She was leaning back and watching the last few minutes of the sparkling lights show. It ended and people started moving away, but she kept sitting and staring. A few moments later a young man emerged, slowly pacing himself and eventually stopping his tracks by this girl.
“Oh, I missed it,” he said regretfully.
The girl quickly paid attention and chipped in. “Yeah, you missed it by just a few minutes,” she said. The guy looked at her, surprised at her response (or maybe he’s just acting like he’s surprised). “I think they’ll repeat it again soon,” he said. “Yep, every half hour,” she said. He nodded in acknowledgement.
At this point I was actively eavesdropping. I felt bad at first, but after convincing myself that I am actually an unpaid social journalist, I carried on. “It’s really nice weather,” he said. This is the part where I knew he was trying to make a move. The girl giggled and agreed. This is the part where I knew she was responding positively. I set my phone to ‘silent’.
“My name is XXXXX,” he introduced himself. I can’t remember what his name was. She introduced herself as well but they didn’t shake hands. She was still sitting down, and he was standing awkwardly. The sunset was really at its peak and it was beautiful out there. “Is it okay if I sit down?” he asked. She said yes almost as immediately as that question ended. He sat down and saw her books and asked if she was a student. They carried on having a pleasant conversation.
I felt like I was in some weird, ideal world movie. A boy and a girl who meets in front of the Eiffel Tower? Are you freaking kidding me? I looked around to see if there was a camera. Maybe this is a filming of a reality show. Maybe I’ll be noted at the end credits as ‘Headscarf Girl #3’ (there were quite a few girls in headscarves there coincidentally). I wanted to take a picture of this pair but decided not to. There was a bomb threat in Paris a few days before I arrived and there were army guys looking out everywhere in public places, so I didn’t think me taking a picture of random strangers will look great given the circumstance.
As I evaluated that situation, I have to hand it to this guy for being pretty smart, despite the fact that the Eiffel Tower is such a romantic place that you could be hit by a homeless man and probably still feel charmed by it. Assuming that his intentions were sincere, I would say that he was an excellent strategist. First, he began with an open ended question. If she didn’t end up responding, he wouldn’t be embarrassed because hey, for all you know he’s just talking to himself. Then, he looked surprised by her response. Whether it was unintentional or deliberate, the girl will then use this to confirm that he probably had not been stalking her for the past hour (and maybe he did!).
He also brought up a series of generic conversations. This is important for him to gauge her temperament, whether she seemed open to talk to him or not interested. Finally, he asked politely if he could sit down. By this time the girl would be flattered at his manners. He could also use this opportunity to observe the way she her responded. If she said yes but sounded like she was dreading it then he would know to not stay long. But since she replied almost before the question ended, he’s got his answer right there.
Well played sir.
As I left the Eiffel Tower, the both of them were still animatedly chatting. I don’t know why, but I felt so glad to have witnessed it. It was actually one of the highlights of my stay in Paris. There is nothing quite like the excitement of meeting someone new and you click right into place. It reminded me of my past encounters and the delightful amalgamation of feelings, and frankly isn't that one of the big reasons why we love love so much? I wonder what happened to them. Maybe they ended up together. Maybe they never materialized. Maybe they part ways and never saw each other again. Whichever it is, I am pretty sure they won’t forget it too quickly. And neither will I.