Let me say something: I do not understand people. Give me some impossible figure to calculate and I'll do it without breaking a sweat, give me a scientific law to learn and I'll have it memorised before you can turn your back, but people? You can't just learn a rule that fits for everyone, because it's not just what they say but the tone of voice they say it in and what has been said just beforehand and a thousand other things.
Case in point: getting ready to go out. I got out of the shower, put on deodorant, a clean shirt and a good pair of jeans and declared myself done. The girls , on the other hand, still weren't ready at 20: 26 local time. And they'd gone up to start getting ready before us. I really don't understand what they do that takes up so much time- do they shower twice or something? Or just stare at their reflection in the mirror for an age (actually, Sparx does that too; it's not just a girl thing)?
Eventually (it was 20:31. I checked three times, unable to believe that we were finally leaving) we were all ready to go out for dinner and then for a night on the town as the girls would say, or en ville if you happened to be Sparx. On the town is such a weird expression- personally, when I go out I generally prefer to stand on either the cobbles of the streets or the solid floor of whatever bar we happen to be in rather than standing on top of buildings. Not to mention the fact that Paris is a city and not a town. But I digress. We walked out of the hotel- I would have had us in a crocodile, someone had to take charge and frankly, I'm the only one competent to look after a pot plant, but the others accused me of trying to send them back to KS1- and found a nice-ish, cheap-ish french restaurant.
We sat down. We ordered our food at 20:37 and it arrived by 20:59. I had a steak and chips. I don't like foreign food, there are too many different colours and I never quite know what to expect.
We were nearly finishing our food, when Sparx suddenly demanded that I reach out my arm.
"Which one?" I asked, confused.
Sparx's eyes darted left and right- someone already a little confused, I expect, which didn't bode well for my job as babysitter later- before he answered confidently "Left."
"I'd have asked why," giggled Erica as I held out my arm dutifully. It was odd. I'd never really have wondered what Sparx was going to do by myself.
I soon found out though. With a wicked grin he quickly reached out and grabbed at my wrist.
"What?" I grumbled- he seemed to be fiddling with the clasp of my watch and it wasn't excessively comfortable- then I realised what he was up to. I tried to pull my arm away but it was too late. My arm went one way and the watch in his hand went the other.
"And you're not having it back until tomorrow," he said, wagging a finger at me as if I were an unruly schoolboy again. As if he were so superior to me.
"Learn to live a little," agreed Melanie.
"Don't look so tortured, Ethan," said Erica, patting me on my newly-bare arm. I don't like being touched very much but I supposed she was trying to be kind, so I didn't pull away. She didn't try to intervene or get it back though.
I watched him slip it into the top pocket of his shirt. Great. I hoped it would burn a hole in it. Serve him right.
"This is theft of personal property, a blatant act of theft! " I shouted, dropping my knife and fork in my anger- they made a loud clatter on the table.
"Calm down, people are staring," said Melanie. Her cheeks were flushed red and her eyes were screwed up as if in pain. A sudden headache, I supposed.
Erica, who had momentarily been distracted admiring her reflection in the window- or that of a good-looking frenchman on the street outside, no doubt- exchanged one of those inscrutable looks with Melanie. "This is for your own good," she added with a smile.
Sparx announced we were done, not wanting to cause any more of a scene, I expected, and before I knew it we were paying the bill and disappearing into the night. What a great way to start an evening, one of your most valued possessions being stolen by your so-called best friend.
Little did I know...worse was still to come...