by Doreen F.

I have always loved France and when I got the chance to study in Paris, I immediately decided to go there without thinking twice. Although it was a big step, I wasn’t scared. Paris-the city of love, it couldn’t have been better, could it? Well, it could, a boyfriend was missing to make it perfect, but at least I didn’t have one at home because a long-distance relationship might have proved difficult. The only one who came with me was my cat Frankie. I couldn’t have left him at my parents, they didn’t like cats - my mum was allergic to them. They also wanted to travel a lot themselves when I wasn’t there and there was nobody who could’ve cared for Frankie. I was excited to take him with me, so there was at least one familiar “face” in the new place. In finding a place I was really lucky, a friend of mine had been living in Paris for a while and now she was moving in with her boyfriend and her flat was empty. She offered me to rent it which I happily agreed with. The flat was small, but perfect as it was close to the university and had a common patio for all the flats where Frankie could walk around and spend the day outside playing with other cats.

I quickly got used to living in the new city and loved going to the cafés. The people were really nice and so were my neighbours. But I was still single. Not that there weren’t any handsome French men, but the right one hasn’t come up yet. Or maybe I just didn’t pay too much attention to the ones I should have. Most of my friends at university had found a boyfriend, yet I remained single. During the day I didn’t mind, I had a lot to do for my studies and friends to meet with, but in the evenings and at night, I would’ve liked someone to spend the time with apart from my cat. where most people who lived in the flats of our block came. It was great fun and I met a really nice guy, Philippe. We had many things in common and he wasn’t bad looking either. I hadn’t realized that he was living quite close to my flat, I had never seen him before. He told me that he had been studying abroad and only returned recently, that was probably the reason why we hadn’t met yet. Around midnight I got tired and decided to go home and he offered to walk me home, which I had to decline as I lived next door to the patio. He said he would stay a little longer because he wanted to speak with some of the other neighbours who he hadn’t seen in a long while.

I went home without realizing that Frankie was still outside which I usually didn’t allow him because I was scared something might happen to him at night. In the morning I was surprised that he wasn’t there and then dawned me that he was still outside.So I got dressed and went to the patio the look for him. I called him, but tried not to be too loud so as not to wake any of my neighbours who had been at the barbecue longer than me.I couldn’t find him and started worrying that he could have been run down by a car or left the familiar area and got lost.I was really afraid something dangerous might have happened to him.Oh, my poor cat, what if he died only because I enjoyed talking to Philippe (or was it flirting) more than I wanted to admit.It was only ten in the morning and I wasn’t sure, if my neighbours were still in bed.I had been so tired that I didn’t hear when the barbecue was over because I was already asleep.I decided to wait until eleven and then knock at some doors to ask whether they have seen Frankie.

I forced me to drink a cup of coffee, but couldn’t eat a thing because of my worries.At 10.30 I couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to go around and ask, if somebody had seen Frankie. I knocked at the doors of all the people I knew, but of those who were already up nobody had seen or heard anything of my darling. The last door I tried was Philippe’s as he had told me where he lived. It took a long time until he opened it and I probably would have left, if I hadn’t heard some footsteps running to the door, then away again.When I was about to go thinking that he didn’t want to see me, the door opened. He was dressed in boxer-shorts and a t-shirt, which he had probably just put on before he opened the door and to my surprise he was wearing glasses when he opened; Philippe looked gorgeous.I asked him, if he had seen my cat and described what he looked like.Philippe said that he hadn’t and I dissolved into tears, I couldn’t help it, Frankie was so important to me and Philippe’s was the last door I had tried and nobody had seen him.I was sure that my darling was dead.”Why don’t you come in and I make you a cup of tea and when you’ve calmed down, we can go and search together, okay?” he suggested trying to comfort me. A nod was the only answer I managed to give.The man of my dreams was standing there and I behaved like a hysteric idiot because of my cat, I thought, but I couldn’t help it, Frankie was so important to me, I had had him for five years and he had always been faithful and now I had betrayed him. While drinking the tea I calmed down a little, we didn’t speak much, but maybe the atmosphere helped, I wasn’t sure. Philippe was really nice and tried extremely hard to comfort me, although he seemed quite self-conscious wearing his glasses.

After some time he said that he would get dressed and then we could go and look for Frankie.I agreed and waited for him to be ready. It took more time than I had expected, but maybe French spend more times in their bathroom than others.Philippe finally came wearing a dark red shirt and blue jeans, but not wearing the glasses anymore. Contact lenses I thought, but was too happy to be ready to search Frankie and didn’t pay too much attention to that.

We went around the patio and called Frankie offering him food and Philippe went to the road to see whether a car had hit him, but if that was the case it had to have happened farther away from home.At noon we had to take a break because it was a really hot day and the search had been very exhausting thus far. I invited Philippe to come to my place and he agreed.If hadn’t been so worried about Frankie, I would have tried much harder to impress Philippe.He was a really handsome guy, tall a nice tan, dark blond hair cut in a short fashionable style so that it stood into every direction.I made baguettes with ham and cheese for lunch and while we were still having lunch, there was a knock at my door. Hundreds of thoughts were racing through my head, when I opened it.It was Mrs.Vidal, a very old lady who probably hadn’t heard me knocking.”I heard that you’ve been looking for your cat. I know where it is, he’s all right. Come with me, I’ll show you.” I sighed in relief and told her I’d be back her in a second. I went in to tell Philippe about the good news. He said he’d stay until I come back to get to know my cat.Then Mrs Vidal led me to her flat and in there was my Frankie boy.”He must have come in with my Kitty and I didn’t notice him until I was having lunch”, she explained.I was so happy to see him alive that I hugged Mrs Vidal and thanked her for telling me and taking care of my cat.Then I took Frankie back to my flat.To my disappointment the flat was empty.”Oh, no, Frankie, he’s gone, I must have scared him, offended him, where is he.Shit, I finally meet one guy I really, really like and he leaves because he doesn’t like me.He didn’t even leave a note”, I cursed, telling my cat everything.

Then my phone rang. It was Philippe, who told me that he was terribly sorry that he had left in such a hurry and he wanted to know about Frankie.I explained where my cat had been, but I was also curious to know why he had left because he didn’t give me a reason. I was too shy to ask, I didn’t want to put him off.I hoped he’d tell me sooner or later.Then he asked me, if I wanted to come over to his place for dinner. I agreed feeling like I was in seventh heaven.I had a date or kind of a date, at least I hoped it was.For the rest of the afternoon I paid Frankie as much attention as I could, stroking him and playing with him so as not to offend him spending the night with somebody else but him.

I had a hard time deciding what to wear, but in the end I opted for casual clothes because I didn’t think we were going anywhere.I was really nervous when I stood in front of Philippe’s door for the second time that day. He opened the door and we gave each other a kiss on the cheek, which was the usual way to say hello to a friend in Paris. I enjoyed those little kisses quite a lot. Philippe led me to the kitchen table where a candle was lit, he adjusted the chair as I sat down like they do it in some restaurants. The food was delicious, he had cooked a risotto with tuna and chili, something I had never eaten before. Philippe told me that this recipe was a family tradition and only for very special occasions-did he tell that every girl he invited for dinner?

Afterwards we sat down on the couch which was really.”You must have been wondering why I left your flat in such a hurry”, Philippe started the conversation.

“Yes, I thought you didn’t like me or my flat, but after this incredible dinner I can’t believe that that was the reason”, I replied.

“I have only known you for a very short time, but I feel there is something special about you or us and I’m sure you know that I like you very much and your flat too”, he said.

“So why did you leave?” I wanted to know.

”You know, this may sound stupid, but really had my reasons”, he continued.

”It can’t be stupid, come on, tell me, I really want to know”, I demanded.

”Okay”, he sighed. “In the morning I have just woken up, when you knocked at my door, I had to see who it was to decide if I should open it or not so I ran to the door to look through the spyhole.”When I saw it was you, I was having a hard time deciding whether to let you in or not.” He had noticed the surprised look I gave him.”The reason is that I really liked you yesterday evening, it was something like love at first sight, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted you to know that I wear glasses.I stayed at the barbecue until 3 and my eyes were too tired for the contacts because I had been wearing them for nearly 24 hours.”Now I know where he was heading.”As I really liked you and from what I saw you seemed to be in trouble, I opened the door.You are one of very few who have seen me in glasses.”He smiled sheepishly. ”I really wanted to help you look for Frankie, but I had to do it without glasses.Maybe you have been wondering why it took me so long to get ready. Well, I was having trouble inserting the contacts.When we came to your flat I was having difficulties with my contact lenses and after you left they really gave me a hard time.I really wanted to stay and wait for you, but my eyes were killing me.I had to go because I had to take them out and therefore I need my contact solution to clean. Usually I carry it around or at least the case to store them, but we left in such a hurry that I couldn’t take it with me.I’m so sorry.I would have written a note, but through the tears I couldn’t see and I had to go really quickly in order not to lose a contact.I would have come to you again, but I had to give my eyes a rest and didn’t want to be seen walking around with glasses.I can’t really go without.My vision is not that bad, but I hate not recognizing people and squinting doesn’t really help much and I don’t want to run into anything.”Philippe seemed relieved after saying all this. I knew I had to give him an encouraging answer.

”Philippe, I’m not that superficial and first of all I’m really glad you like me.Why didn’t you tell me on the phone right away? You look really great with and without glasses.Don’t your eyes need a rest, why don’t you take the contacts out, I don’t mind you wearing glasses and if you feel more comfortable that way, I don’t care”, I told him.

“Really, you don’t mind?Well, I’ll take them out then, they’re giving me a hard time today and I’m really anticipating taking them out. When I was cutting the chili I incidently rubbed my eye, it burnt like hell.I didn’t want to put you off by wearing glasses tonight. I don’t really like wearing them in public, you know, but at home I wear them most of the time”, he explained.Then he went to the bathroom to remove his contacts.

“Ally, can you help me?”, I suddenly heard him and went to the bathroom.

”What’s the matter?” I asked.

”One of my contacts must have fallen onto the floor, can you help me find it? But be careful not to step onto it”, he told me while he was on his knees patting around the floor blindly with his nose nearly touching the tiles.

”I don’t even know what a contact looks like. Where are your glasses, we’ll never find it without them”, I wanted to know.

”I left them in the bedroom on the drawer, but I can’t go there right now, the contact can be anywhere”, He whined.

“I’ll get them for you”, I said and got up.Returning to the bathroom with the glasses I saw a something small and shiny on the floor right next to Philippe’s left thigh and told him so. “Thank you, oh wow, thank God, there it is!”he sighed in relief.”This has never happened to me before, otherwise I would have kept my glasses near the sink.I must have been so nervous because of you that my hand was trembling.”

“I guess I deserve a kiss for that”, I replied with a smile on my face.

”Yeah, that’s true, just a second, I have to clean the contact and could you place my glasses onto my face, please, uhm, I want to see you properly”, Philippe said. So I unfolded the glasses, although I had never done this before, and placed them onto his face, which lit up as I came into focus.I waited for Philippe on the couch and when he came back I thought that to me he was even more handsome in glasses, though this was a strange thought to me. Philippe sat down, pulled me onto his lap and gave me an intense gentle kiss, it was indescribeable. Both of us did not want to be moving to fast due to bad experiences we had had and so we just spent the evening hugging and kissing. It was so nice to finally have found someone who really seemed to care for me. Did we really only meet 24 hours ago, to me it felt like ages.The next day was Sunday and we decided to spend the day together. Then I went home because I didn’t want Frankie to stay alone after looking for him all day.Philippe understood that perfectly well since had owned a dog when he was a kid.

Frankie greeted me, when I came home and I told him everything about the evening, also about Philippe and his glasses and that I didn’t understand why he was so self-conscious about them. Even though he had been wearing them most of the evening, he was always adjusting them and fidgeting around.I didn’t know why.He was such a gorgeous guy with and without his glasses. I had never had a boyfriend wearing glasses or at least none of them had admitted wearing them, I didn’t know. Wasn’t it weird that I was thinking about his glasses that much? I decided to ask him a bit more about them the next day.

I fell asleep glad to have experienced such a great day and had a really peaceful night. In the morning I wasn’t sure, if Philippe was real or was it just a dream? I had asked him, if he wanted to join me for a brunch and he had agreed. Quickly I went to a small bakery to buy croissants to have something to offer. When I came back, the phone was ringing.It was Philippe.He said he didn’t want to walk around wearing glasses, but didn’t want to put in his contacts either, his eyes felt kind of sore from wearing the contacts that much. He really assured me that he wanted to come and finally meet Frankie, so I suggested he should come to my flat bare-eyed and put on the glasses when he was inside.I offered to pick him up, but he said he would try that and that he could manage without a guide-dog or a white stick. I watched him coming out of my window, once in a while he would squint hard to focus and then go on pretending he could see fairly well. I opened the door to my flat to welcome him and make it easier for him to find it, I didn’t know how bad his eyes were.Philippe came in, shut the door and with a sigh of relief he put on his glasses.

”This was quite a challenge, I didn’t realize that everything looks so much alike”, he said.

“I was watching you from my window, wouldn’t it be easier to wear your glasses?” I asked. ”Definitely, but I haven’t gotten them so long ago, it was when I was studying abroad, but here people have known me before, it would feel really strange to appear in front of them wearing glasses.”

“Does that mean it never occurred to you that your vision was bad, although it had been for some time?”I wanted to know.

“Not really, I had an illness, where I wasn’t allowed to be in the light or to read, but I couldn’t help it, I had to study a lot at that time and somehow my eyes didn’t like that.Iwas getting headaches and realized that I couldn’t see well enough while driving, so I went to see an ophthalmologist. He told me I needed glasses. I also got contacts right away as I’m into sports and training with glasses isn’t really practical. Since then my eyes have gotten worse, they are -4, 00 and -4, 15, with some astigmatism.”I looked confused so he explained the most important facts about vision.

“So why do you hate wearing your glasses or to be seen in glasses that much?” was the next thing I wanted to know.

“I never had to wear them in public, always opted for the contacts, so I’m not used to it, especially not here.”

“I think they really suit you, to me you’re even more handsome wearing them”, I encouraged him.

“Do you think so?” he said blushing. Instead of an answer I gave him a kiss. I decided to drop that topic for a while as Philippe seemed a bit self-conscious talking about glasses.

I was really hungry and so we had the brunch I had prepared. Then Frankie who had fled to my room when Philippe came-he wasn’t used to strangers in my flat- came to see what was going on.”May I introduce the reason why we got to know each other better”, I presented Frankie who didn’t seem to be too shy to take a good look at the visitor. Usually he didn’t like men at all, but he inspected Philippe in a friendly way.

“I think he likes you”, I told him.

“I hope so, I don’t want him to see me as a rival”, Philippe answered with a smile.

After we had couldn’t eat anymore, we went to the living room to sit on my couch. I leaned onto him and Frankie jumped onto my lap, it was really comfortable, just sitting there kissing occasionally and enjoying the time we were together.Then my phone rang and I had to get up, but before I placed Frankie onto Philippe’s lap. It was my mum, she told me that she and my father had come back from their journey and went into every single detail of the cruise they had made.When we finally finished our call, Philippe was asleep and Frankie was still sitting on his lap. I was such a cute sight that I decided to take a photo of them to keep this memory. Then I came closer and removed Philippe’s specs so as not to break them while sleeping. I held them in my hand and looked at them curiously. I even tried them on, but couldn’t see very much hence everything was blurry to me. I realized that everything was very small through the lenses, but to me his being so vulnerable without them made Philippe even more attractive. Why was he so shy about wearing them? He preferred to walk around bare-eyed and nearly stumble to seeing where was heading and looking so irresistible. There had to be another reason, I thought and I decided to work on that, encourage him to wear glasses more often.

I saw that the lenses were a bit dirty and went to the bathroom to clean them The glasses were sparkling in the sun, when suddenly I heard Philippe calling my name. I hurried back to the couch, where he was sitting staring towards my direction.

“Where did you put my glasses?” he asked and I could hear from his voice that he was a bit worried.

“I’ve got them, I took them off so that you wouldn’t break them and then I went to clean them”, I told him coming closer and into focus for him.

“Here they are.” He grabbed them, put them on and adjusted them.

“That’s better, I was really worried I might have broken them or you had taken them to take advantage of my disability.My ex-girlfriend used to take them and hide them somewhere and I had to walk around and look for them without seeing a damn thing.” I felt really sorry for him and wanted to know more about that.

“She was beautiful and nice, but her attitude towards glasses was horrible.We were a couple, when I got glasses and she didn’t like that. She tried to persuade me to walk around bare-eyed and that was probably one of the reasons why my vision got worse so quickly. I was self-conscious about the glasses, I still am. I hardly ever wore them in public and she did always tell me how gorgeous I was without them and how much they ruined my appearance. I thought she was right. I had contacts for sports, so I wore them more often to please her and I got really used to wearing them, even after our break-up”, Philippe continued.”I didn’t have too many problems with them as long as I don’t wear them for too long and give my eyes a rest by wearing glasses at home.My contacts are disposables and I have to find an optometrist here where I can purchase them. The ones I was wearing yesterday won’t last for more than two weeks.”

“I don’t care whether you wear glasses or contacts as long as you are fine, I really love you”, I thought this was an encouraging answer, “but you are incredibly hot in glasses.When I saw you at the door wearing glasses, looking half asleep, you were really cute and I think that was when I really fell for you.”Philippe looked really surprised and had probably lost his words for a moment.

After some time I suggested, “I think we’ve been lazy enough for the moment. The weather is very nice, would you like to take a walk in the park?”

“That’d be a great idea, but let’s go to my flat first. I’m not used to wearing glasses in public, I want to wear my contacts, if you don’t mind”, Philippe agreed. As we were about to leave my flat, Philippe removed the glasses and put them into his pocket. I felt kind of guilty that I was turned on by the fact that he couldn’t see properly.He took my hand and although I knew that the main reason for that was that he felt insecure to walk around without glasses, I liked walking next to him. One of the neighbours walked past saying hello and after he had gone Philippe wanted to know who that was for he hadn’t seen the face and couldn’t place the voice. “I don’t want to put you under any pressure, but why don’t you put on your glasses, it’d be much easier”, I wanted to know leading him to his flat. “I don’t know, it feels so strange and uncomfortable to wear them outside. I’m a real coward, I know. It’s just that I don’t want to get any negative reation, I’ve already had enough of that”, he replied squinting to put the key into the hole, then he gave in and put on his glasses and had no trouble unlocking the door.”You are the only one I’ve met who didn’t stare at my glasses as if they were a disease or something totally hideous”, he went on. I began to understand his reasons and pitied him for what he had to go through. Philippe went to the bathroom and I asked him, if he would me watching because I was really interested.I had never seen anyone putting a contact into his eye. He agreed, but I saw that he was a bit nervous. It was very interesting for me to watch this whole process until the contacts were inside the eyes. He said that his eyes would tolerate the contacts now, they had had time to relax. We went to the park and walked around and he took me to places I had never been before. Afterwards we went to a nice little café and had a really tremendous time. Then we walked alongside the Seine and to a creperie where we had a nice dinner.

Afterwards we decided to go back to my flat, but before that Philippe wanted to go over to his place to get his contact paraphernalia and his glasses because he wanted to stay longer or maybe the night. When I came home Frankie who had been outside in the meantime, greeted me happily and I gave him his food. Frankie was still eating when the doorbell rang. I opened and Philippe came in carrying a small bag and a red rose. I was surprised. “This is for you, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me, I really love you”, he said and kissed me. I was overwhelmed. Then we sat down in front of the TV. After half an hour he told me he had to take out the contacts because there was no need for them now and he was having some trouble with them. When came back wearing glasses I thought he was more handsome than ever. We didn’t go to bed too late, but had a wonderful night together. In the morning I woke up first and enjoyed watching him until he felt my stares and woke up. He didn’t put on his glasses at once and we lay next to each other for quite some time hugging and kissing until Frankie wanted to have breakfast and I had to get up.

We had a wonderful week, everyone was busy during the day, but we spent the evenings together alternating between my place and his.It was one of the best weeks in my life.One evening we were at my flat watching a movie I had bought recently, but I hadn’t seen it yet.It was an American movie and we decided to watch the original version and have the French subtitles just in case Philippe didn’t know certain words. He was wearing his glasses-he usually wore them when we were alone in one of our flats, but never outside.Somehow when I looked at him I saw him narrowing his eyes slightly and lifting his glasses up a little.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m fine, why do you want to know?” he answered.

“Because you seem to have trouble seeing the subtitles”, I told him.

“They are a bit blurry, you’re right.I think I need a stronger prescription, as if me actual prescription wasn’t enough”, he admitted sadly.

“Do you want me to go to the optometrist with you? We could go there tomorrow”, I suggested.

“Sure, that would be great and I have to get new contacts anyway”, he seemed happy about that.

So in the morning I phoned a friend of mine whose boyfriend worked in an optical store to get the phone number and make an appointment. I was told that it’d be better, if Philippe didn’t wear his contacts the whole day in order to have exact measurements for the new contacts. He was still at my place and I explained what the doctor had said. Philippe wasn’t really happy about that, but he didn’t have any plans for the day, he decided to stay at my place and wear his glasses. When it was time to leave, he removed his glasses and we walked towards the metro station. I could tell he was having difficulties and suddenly he took out his specs and put them on. He had noticed my surprised look and said,

“It’s too hard trying to see without correction, I guess I’m too blind for that.”

“You look so hot, sweety, I’m glad you finally see that there is no use walking around bare-eyed”, I told him and gave him and encouraging smile and a kiss. When we came to the optometrist, Philippe had to wait a bit. While he was with the doctor, I chatted with my friend’s boyfriend, Pierre, about this and that and I asked some questions concerning eyesight which I didn’t have the nerve to ask Philippe or which I hadn’t completely understood. When Philippe came out he didn’t look too happy.

“What’s wrong”, I wanted to know.

“It’s alright, my eyes have gotten worse a bit and I need new glasses. The only problem is that I have to wear glasses more often.I have worn my contacts a bit too much and my eyes don’t like that, but it’ll be alright if I don’t wear them that much anymore. Now I have to find new frames for the new prescription, will you help me choose?” he looked incredibly cute in his glasses.

“Of course, I’ll help you choose the right frames, come on, let’s take a look, there are so many different styles, we’ll find the best for you”, I hugged him and then we went to see what suited him. He tried several and moved really close to the mirror to see what they looked like and Pierre showed us the most trendy ones. Eventually both of us decided that a pair of semi-rimless with black wire would be the best. They had a rectangular shape and Philippe looked extremely handsome wearing them. Pierre told us that they’d be ready in about two hours.We decided to go to a café and wait there. Over a cup of coffee Philippe told me that he thought it wasn’t too bad to wear glasses, but he was gaining some self-confidence. He didn’t play around with them anymore, at least not when we were together. When we picked up his new glasses he left his old ones there to get new lenses for them as well, so that he could change whenever he wanted. Philippe would collect them together with his new contacts. When we left the shop, Philippe seemed surprised at how clear everything was-his old prescription seemed to have been quite different. At least Philippe seemed to enjoy the clear view and didn’t take the glasses off until we reached his appartment where went straight to his bed where we made passionte love.

Time went by and Philippe wore his glasses more often, but usually put in his contacts for work and sports. When we were at home or whenever we spent time together he was my spexy guy. Most people had seen him wearing glasses and he hadn’t received a single negative comment, but many compliments. I was really proud of him and when he asked me to move in with him I didn’t even have to think about it. I found someone for my old flat and moved into Philippe’s flat, with Frankie, of course.

After I had finished my studies and gotten a job, he asked me to marry him. Philippe had put the engagement ring around Frankie’s neck, how could I say no? I was sure that he was the man of my dreams, so I agreed and we started to arrange everything. As we had many friends and relatives all over the world, we knew it would be quite tough to organize a wedding, but eventually the big day came. In the morning everthing was really chaotic due to a party we had been to last night. I nearly overslept and there were so many thing that had to be done. Philippe seemed to be stressed to and when he was in the bathroom I heard him cursing. I went to see what was wrong and when I came in he said that his eyes were too sore; he had been wearing contacts last night and probably for too long and his eyes were red and they hurt as soon as he put in the lenses. I told him it didn’t matter, he could wear glasses anyway, everybody knew he had them and I’d appreciate it- it had been my secret wish to have Philippe wear glasses at the wedding, but I didn’t want to ask him, but now he didn’t have a chance, poor Philippe. He seemed to be a bit sad, so I told him about my wish and that I really wouldn’t mind and he seemed a lot better afterwards.

Some minor incidents later we came to the church where everybody was waiting. It was a really great ceremony and the party which was organized by some of our best friends was incredible. Even my extremely old-fashioned parents seemed to enjoy it and my mother who hadn’t seen Philippe in glasses before told me that I had chosen a really handsome man, which was as much of compliment one could get from her.