12 August 2007

The Girl in the Picture

But really — can you blame me?

Several years ago, I came to Paris and fell in love. I was in a little shop, and I saw a photograph. It was a new print and something about the image was so fresh and vivid that it was easy to believe the girl in the picture was my contemporary. With luck, I might even get the photographer's name and meet the girl. The shopkeeper asked a ridiculous amount of money, but there was no question: I had to have that picture.

This is what Paris does to you, when you are young and romantically inclined. You do not expect to do such things, you do not believe you are such a person, and then it happens. You read the short stories of Fitzgerald and you don't expect to live them out. And then one day, you find yourself paying 75 Francs you can ill afford for an unframed photograph of a clear-eyed beauty who is the love of your life, never mind that she happens to have died 38 years before you were born, never mind that she's Sarah Bernhardt.

Well, I always had a thing for Jewish girls. More recently I was walking down the street and stopped short when my eye was caught by another young woman's face, so beautiful that I didn't recognize her as the young Simone Signoret. Only a postcard, yet mesmerizing. Or, perhaps more precisely, haunting, since Signoret too has been dead for quite a long time.

And then our eyes met...

One of these days, I am going to have to find someone my own age. And maybe three-dimensional, too.