Tutoyer

Conversation flowed easily, so much so that their drinks were barely touched. After one each, they were ready to leave the bar.  They went over to the Mirrorball Theatre to see what was playing, found it was A la Mode, in French with subtitles.  They sat up in the balcony and had cappucinos.  Stephen had a small box of Godiva chocolates in the pocket of his leather jacket.  He made no objection when Julie bit her candies in half to examine the filling, and accepted anything she rejected.

It amused her that he used the formal vous when he spoke to her.  The transition from vous to the familiar tu was significant to the French, so much so that there was a verb for it: tutoyer.  However most Canadian francophones, Julie had discovered, found the distinction snobbish and archaic. After an initial introduction with vous, they would use tu within a minimal amount of time, without even the ritual of tutoyer. 

Stephen, it appeared, was old school.

“You’re always feeding me,” she said around a mouthful of raspberry cream, using tu.

“You always look hungry,” he said, with vous.  He picked up her hand and closed his thumb and index finger around her wrist.  Julie drew a slow breath in; this was his first deliberate touch and she savored it.  “You are,” he said, regarding her hand intently, “the most nude woman I’ve ever seen.”  He ran his fingers over the edges of her clear-polished nails.

“Nue?” she repeated.  “Nude?  What do you mean?”

He rolled his lips together and his eyebrows furrowed.  “Pas médaillé.  Sans ornements.”

“Unadorned?” she said.

“I mean you don’t wear any jewelry.  Except earrings.  But no bracelets.  No necklace.  No rings.”  He turned up her thumbnail as proof.  “No nail polish.  You don’t even wear a watch.  You’re just…simple.  Your bones are beautiful.  You don’t need any embellishment.  I like that.”  His eyes were very wide and she noticed there were flecks of gold in his grey irises, with a band of darkest slate at the rim.  “I like that,” he said again, across the small expanse of electric air between them.

The lights dimmed and Julie put her hand on the side of his face, moved her thumb along his high cheekbone, and then gently ran it along his lips.  He touched his tongue to it.  “Et vous goûtez de chocolat,” he whispered. You taste like chocolate.  “I like that, too…”

She drew his face in.  “Et si on se tutoyait?”

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