We met one spring evening at the brasserie Le Fumoir, in the heart of Paris.

Pierre and Lorenzo, my friends, my darlings, had invited him to join us for an intimate get-together for my birthday. It wasn’t until afterwards that it occurred to me that maybe he was my present.

I have to admit that when Pierre and Lorenzo told me we would have a fourth, I was less than thrilled. After all, they neglected to mention—of course—whether this fourth was a man or a woman. And as THE woman in the life of the “Pi-Lo” couple, I couldn’t allow another member of my species to encroach on our trio.

What a relief when I saw a man arrive. A tall, brown-haired, athletic man with an easy smile. I felt like I had been transported to a scene from The Bold and the Beautiful. I wasn’t Audrey anymore—I was Kimberly. My ophthalmologist wouldn’t have believed it: My nearsightedness had cleared right up. I could see fine, and I had seen this man coming from a mile away.

Pierre and Lorenzo got up and gave him a hug, one after another, American style. Very manly.

And I said to myself that I had a new gay friend. I was disappointed.

Yes, gay men are manly. It’s manly when they hug. Just like straight men. When a man gives you a hug in greeting, you suddenly feel protected, taken care of. My breasts stood at attention. My bra had given up the fight.

And then Joshua approached me, hesitant, almost shy. He didn’t know if he should give me a handshake or a kiss. But he stared in my eyes with a disarming smile, and I realized I was looking at a very cute man…and so sexy! It was love at first sight. Inside, I was shouting at him: “What are you waiting for? Give me that big manly hug! Let’s get it over with! I don’t want to be an independent feminist anymore! I want to melt in your big arms!” Anyway…

The evening of my 30th birthday, I considered, at least emotionally, calling off my two years of extreme celibacy. After my last breakup (two years ago), I had taken a vow of chastity for an indeterminate period. Not so much as a raised eyebrow, a wink, a stare, a giggle, or a kiss. But that evening, as I looked at this specimen, I was once again ready to talk to a man, to be whispered to sleep, to shudder at a fleeting touch.

Translated from french by Kenneth Barger 🙂