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I almost had Paris

Brunch with Becks is an ongoing weekend series where I wax poetic on tales from my life starting with the 9 Truths. Yes, I too can’t comprehend that all these odd occurrences have happened to me.

I met Henning at my local bar in Chicago in the late 90s. He had met one of the cooks who worked at the bar a few days before who said he should stop in to the bar for dinner. Henning took that to mean that he would be having a free meal at the bar. Henning was German.

Now, before I get too far into this story I should tell you two things.

First, I grew up in an All-American family on the most All-American street that ever existed. We played All-American sports such as baseball and football. Oh, and we bowled. We’re Polish; we’d be kicked out of the family if we didn’t bowl.

Isn’t it ironic

I only mention this because it seems a bit ironic, only in the Alanis Morissette sense, that my brother and I both married foreigners. I’m sure you all have figured out that my husband is an Englishman. What you might not know is that my brother married Anna, who is from Poland. I mean, she’s from the Mother Country! Born and raised in Poland.

Second, before I met and married my husband, I dated Henning the German, a Scot, an Aussie, and two other Englishmen. I remember my mom asking me, “Don’t you like American men?” I love American men and dated many; they just didn’t seem to like me as much as I liked them. And the accents! I’m a sucker for an accent.

Back to the German

Henning was attractive, charming and younger than me. We went to a concert on our first date. We met up with other friends afterward, including my roommate Catie, and all of us ended up back at our teeny tiny condo.

The dashing German was a flight attendant for United Airlines and his usual route was to Düsseldorf. But he was on call that night. He called and was put on a trip to Paris. Without missing a beat, he asked if I would join him. The flight and the hotel would be free. 48 hours in Paris!

I thought about it for quite a while. I had to get out of my work schedule on the spot. And it was 2 o’clock in the morning. I made a few phone calls and figured out how to make it work.

By 4:00 a.m., Catie and I were discussing outfits and what I should pack and dreaming of Paris. Paris on a date!

All of a sudden, I stopped. “I’m not going to Paris,” I said to the group. Reality hit and it hit hard. Paris wasn’t in my immediate future. I had two hours to dream about it and then I realized… I didn’t have a passport. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Henning and I only dated for a short while but we became very close friends. Henning and his coworker John became a part of “The Tuesday Night Group,” a handful of friends from different walks of life who would gather each week.

Other things you should know about Henning

Henning had a party at his apartment and he passed out hot towels making all the guests feel like they were sitting in First Class. He put a sign over the toilet that said, “Men must sit to pee.” Ponder that for a bit but he really didn’t like splash. And he searched out early bird deals more than a retiree in Florida.

He was charming but particular.

In September of 1999, I left Chicago and “The Tuesday Night Group” kicking and screaming all the way back to Detroit. They wanted to throw me a going away party but I declined. My 30th birthday was a few weeks away and I promised them I would be back for it.

It’s my party and I cried because I wasn’t there

They all gathered on my 30th birthday and waited for me. I was stuck in Detroit. Around 7 p.m. I finally told them it wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t make my own party.

We tried to stay in touch but it doesn’t always work out. This was before Facebook and Twitter.

Then 9/11 happened. In the wee hours afterwards I searched through old phone numbers and finally found one that worked. I talked to John, not Henning, they were both fine but lost a friend and other coworkers. Henning had married. Everyone had moved on with their lives.

Paris, finally!

Henning, we almost had Paris but it wasn’t met to be.

I finally made it to the City of Light with my English husband, my All-American brother and my Polish sister-in-law in 2008. I hope you and the rest of “The Tuesday Night Group” are well. I treasured our time together, on Tuesday nights, solving the worlds’ problems while having a drink and the cheapest bite to eat.

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Reader Comments (2)

I'm so glad you finally made it to Paris! Now, next time you go - I'd like to come since I've never been. Wh

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElena

Sure, I'll take you along the next time. ;-) Or you might just already be there, it looks like you left mid-comment to make the flight.

May 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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