On Saturday I was in the Irish pub having a few drinks with the Scot, his friend and his friend’s colleague. The colleague, who was French (of course), spent the entire evening trying to smooth talk his way into my “affections” and when the clock began creeping towards twelve he decided to take a slightly more forward approach. He came up from behind, wrapped his arms around me and began pawing at my waist. ‘Take your hands off me,’ I snapped and elbowed him in the ribs. ‘Believe it or not,’ I wagged my finger at him, ‘an English girl doesn’t jump into bed with every man who offers.’ This news, combined with my unexpected outburst, seemed to render the man speechless. I yanked at the Scot’s coat sleeve. ‘Come on,’ I fumed as I dragged him away, looking back at the Frenchie with disgust, ‘I’m fed up with the men around here thinking that British women are easy.’ The Scot, with half a pint left in his glass, was resisting my tugging, ‘Well aren’t you? Not British girls generally I mean but…’ ‘I am not EASY,’ I screamed. I must have resembled mad Carrie at the prom because my friend’s face was suddenly stricken with fear. ‘Oh don’t worry about it,’ I turned on my heels, ‘I’m going home. ALONE.’
I flounced all the way back to my apartment with the word “easy” ringing in my ear. I was in a sulk, this was so unfair: since the mop-topped barman, I had been nothing but a model of virtuousness. And that was New Years Eve (so it doesn’t even count). This adds up to weeks of good behaviour. Weeks that have seen me wooed by the Silky One, enticed by the Neuroscientist and drunkenly hit on by the Crazy Canadian. I have refused all their persistent advances and for what?
I’d never had a problem with my promiscuity before I moved to France. In fact, compared to my other single girl friends, I’d always considered myself normal, even angelic. Then I came here and people assumed that I was a slut simply because of where I was from; it had the effect of making me question how normal I was after all. One evening, dancing in some Old Town dive, I fell into the arms of a Glaswegian with a huge blonde Mohican. He’d mastered this hypnotic back rubbing move that I was, apparently, powerless to resist. The next day, as I lay paralyzed, still drunk, in my bed, my mother gave me a lecture. ‘Dear you’re terribly easy,’ she said matter-of-fact. ‘He only had to rub your back…’ It pained me to admit it but I knew she was right. Then, in my tango class, José suggested that I work harder at resisting men. ‘You are too easy,’ he barked, ‘don’t be so easy. Resist. Resist!’ Obviously he was referring to my technique but, after giving it some thought, I decided to apply his advice to my life more generally. And thus, I ended up in my present predicament: English but not easy.
Post-dinner at the Silky One’s a couple of weeks ago he moaned, ‘You are like a French girl, not English at all. You’ve been taking lessons?’ It was a genuine enquiry. ‘Oh please,’ I shooed him away like a fly, ‘I may be English but I am capable of restraining myself.’ I scrutinized him and went on, ‘Incredibly, I’m actually finding it pretty easy to say no to you right now.’ Still, I was confused. Was it good for me to be like a French girl or was it bad? According to my Neuroscientist it was the latter. ‘Women here treat sex as if it is an oath,’ he explained. ‘They pull out the white dress after one sexual encounter. In Argentina it’s different, sex is without expectation; six months down the line you’ll wake up together and think this is really cool, this is a person I want to be with.’
Gabrielle, however, was adamant that this approach couldn’t be more wrong. ‘Men,’ she told me over lunch yesterday, ‘are stupid. That is why you can – no it is why you MUST - play them.’ ‘Huh?’ I was baffled; what happened to having a laugh with them? ‘These days,’ she continued, clearly taking to the theme, ‘sex is too easy. Men can get it anywhere, anytime. Women give it away. Give it away right at the beginning. Why then will a man bother hanging around? They’ve had everything they want.’ I thought about my Neuroscientist and tried to reason with her, ‘But sex isn't a gift, Gabrielle, to be bestowed or held onto and dangled in front of a man to trap him. Shouldn’t it simply be fun, happy, relaxed? Surely then a guy will hang around.’ ‘Well, anyway,’ Gabrielle narrowed her eyes at me accusingly, ‘it is true about English women. My friend who lives there says all the girls have sex really easily.’ So that was that then, I shrugged with resign: I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
This morning the Scot called. ‘Sorry,’ he began, ‘I don’t think you’re easy, not at all, in fact not easy enough by half. Besides, you were right about that French guy, turns out that he’s married, removed his wedding ring at the start of the night just so he could pull…’ And here I was questioning my morals? The French women, I thought, are welcome to their games and to their men. From now on I was English, easy (if I wanted) and proud.