Excerpts from “No Sex in St. Tropez”


What kind of life is this for a Jewish mother of two teenage boys?



rosalie_and_sherry_airport-mod A crowd of friends came to the airport to see Sherry and me leave on British Caledonian Airways. We had places to stay in London and in Paris. I had $2,500, a one-way ticket, an audition tape, and the only key in my purse was the key to my suitcase. Rosalie_and_sons-mod


Roger was standing in the doorway of the bedroom leaning on the doorframe, one foot crossed over the other. “You don’t have a work permit, so, there are only a few things you can do. You can work as a chambermaid in a hotel or youth hostel; you can pick grapes in the wine country, you can try to hook up work on an archaeological dig which doesn’t pay well, if at all, and you would probably be doing grunt work waiting on the archaeologists and wannabe archaeologists; or, you could be an au pair.”

“What’s that?” I asked.




On the train back to Uxbridge I made lists of all the things I needed to buy at Boots, the English version of Walgreens. I would stop on my walk to Walford Road. It was dark. I looked at my reflection in the window as the train clipped along through small town after small town stopping only at some: Harrow-on-the-Hill, Ruslip, Ickenham. Do I know that woman in the window? What am I doing here? Whose voice is that in my head?


amsterdam_McDs-enh When we were settled into our hotel, having dinner as a group in the dining room, I saw the professor in the hotel lobby asking questions. He had been all over town inquiring about the woman in the yellow hat. He spotted me in the dining room, but Felix left the table to question him, playing a fatherly role before he gave his approval for me to go with Alec for a drink at the café in the Casbah. round_seated
I waited alone in the lobby. Precisely at nine Eduardo entered the hotel. I rose to greet him, and he gently took my hand to his lips and kissed it, while his eyes gazed upward at mine. I melted. He led me out to his car, a sports model with the top up. He was dressed in suit and tie. I felt comfortable yet anxious as to how we were going to communicate.
When the valet brought his car to the front, Eduardo put the convertible top down. It was a clear night with stars lighting our way. I took the scarf from around my shoulders and tied it under my chin to cover my head. Just as I did that Eduardo came around to open the car door, but first he put his arms around me. As I leaned against the car, he kissed me passionately. In my four inch heels we were the same height.

Never having dined at such an elegant and famous restaurant, I savored every bite from the appetizer sampler, to the duck, to the green salad after the main course, to the Profiteroles for dessert and the plate of pastries and candies after that. The red wines were exquisite in taste and color. White wines made me dizzy. Both were chosen and served with the aid of a wine steward who wore a round wine spoon around his neck like a monocle. We received an affidavit in the shape of a post card verifying that the duck we had was authentic and numbered. My duck number was 1021781.

While I looked at it, Bill looked at me. There is something magical about a man who has made all the right decisions. I was enchanted and he was beaming. We talked about Paris and St. Tropez and bathed in the moment like it could never happen again.

I looked at Paul and tears were running down his bearded face. I felt wetness overflowing my eyes then a deep sob came from somewhere in my body and I buried my face in m y hands. I’m sure most American’s did the same, especially those living out of the country. I threw on what I wore the day before, brushed my teeth, washed my face and started down the stairs. I felt like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, falling down a rabbit hole, tumbling, tumbling, landing in the kitchen where Monique was serving coffee to two of her friends. No tea party, no Mad Hatter. woman_and_baby-mod


I wasn’t hungry and just picked at the ratatouille, cold ham, bread and cheese. No wine for me. All of a sudden I just couldn’t function. Fatigue had taken over my body. Monique sensed this. She walked me upstairs, showed me where my towels were to hang in the bathroom and gave me pajamas to wear. I got ready for bed, and she knocked on the door. In her hand was a cup of Chamomile tea. She explained slowly in French and English, mostly French, that it was a special tea to relax me and make me sleep without stress. She kissed me on the forehead, turned out the light and said, “Bonne nuit. Welcome, Rosalie.”
I was in the train. Liz was on the platform and we were assigning each other future instructions about meeting and writing and being careful. The train started to move. Liz was moving with it as she yelled, “Rosalie, you lead a charmed life.”

Some men can whisk off women with fancy cars or woo them with glib compliments. But, living on Abbey Road; that’s the best! How could I say no?

 I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

large_baptism_group Looking around the church, I couldn’t believe where I was or what I was doing here. Me, from Newark, Ohio, standing in an old Roman Catholic Church in the South of France, part of a Baptism ceremony with a family that didn’t speak English. It was as though I was an observer reading this whole scene in a book or seeing it in a movie. I wasn’t really me. Scan_Pic0007
Aha! Just as I thought. My instincts were telling me one thing, but the room and the view were telling me something else. What a great location for a murder plot: I could see the story making headlines all over Europe, “Young Scandinavian beauty kills older American au pair over aging Greek lover in fashionable South of France villa.” bus-card5 I was getting pressure from my mother and my sister to come home. Would my sister and brother-in-law come to England next month? What was their mission? I was feeling the guilt meant for me. Should my children be living with their father? They seemed to be happy from the rare correspondences I received. If they were unhappy or not getting along well, wouldn’t I hear from them more often? Wouldn’t they be asking me to come home?

 Life is a series of choices. I had made mine, for now anyway.

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