I have finally made a small but valuable group of friends at work. Friends of my own. Friends who don’t work in the same service as me, nor in the same office, and friends who weren’t forced to be my friends. We are not friends through circumstance but through shared interests and most of all through the common desire to branch out and make friends from other offices. We chose to become a group of friends, and that was what I have been looking for ever since I came to work in France.
I don’t like the idea of forcing myself to eat with my colleagues at work and to become ‘all pally’ (as my mum would say) with them just because we work in the same service. I mean, fair do’s if I end up making a good friend who happens to be a colleague, but I would rather be friends with someone because I enjoy their company than hanging out together just because we work in the same office.
So yes, I have finally made myself some friends at work, and it’s only now that I am beginning to settle in here. It’s just a shame that it took me this long to get to this position, as I only have 19 days left in this office but hey ho, that’s life.
We make up a strange little group. I realised this as I sat down at the table in the company canteen this lunchtime. Sava, the Iranian beauty sat next to me, laughing loudly and heartily, her eyes bright with laughter, a forkful of peas and carrots poised midway between the plate and her mouth.
She was laughing at a joke Cyril had made; our funny guy. Cyril is 36 years old, single and resembles a German porn star. I’m not sure whether he is single because he looks like a German porn star or whether he looks like a German porn star because he is single, but I do know that only he could get away with his wooly beard and straggly hair. He nudged his neighbour in the ribs and laughed.
Paulo, rubbing his ribs in pain, flicked his finger against the side of Cyril’s cheek in return before turning back to his tray of coq au vin. Paulo is Portuguese and is known as the ‘beau garcon’ of the company. He talks a lot about his beloved wife, who he has only had eyes for since they met at the age of 10. He shook his head and let a smile spread across his lips before cracking his own joke, albeit less clever than Cyril’s, and rather dirty, but one that had us all bent over double in laughter.
Opposite me, his face red from laughter, was Stan. Stan is also in his thirties and single. The difference is that he lets it get to him an awful lot more than he should. Lovely man, just a little too focused on getting a girlfriend, which, in turn, means that he scares women off with his desperation. That and the fact that he is utterly obsessed with model cars. He flicked a stray pea across the table where it landed on Tallia’s hand.
Tallia was sitting next to me. A pretty 25 year old Nigerian, today was only her third day in the office. She had been invited to join us at lunch by Stan, and was a potential new friend. She seemed sweet, kind and interesting and Sava and I needed to even things up on the male to female ratio. She flicked the pea off her hand and giggled shyly.
Halfway through our lunch, Tallia was spooning yoghurt into her mouth and asking me the usual questions; how long have I been in France, why am I here, am I here indefinitely or am I going back to Scotland soon… And I’m ashamed to say that I just couldn’t keep my eyes off her chest.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no lezzer, nor am I particularly attracted to women’s bosoms, but all lunchtime there had been a long, dark hair resting on Tallia’s boob, the cream of her sweater making it jump out at me, catching my eye every time she spoke.
It got to the point where I realised I couldn’t continue staring at the poor girl’s chest any longer, I was probably freaking her out already, and she was making such an effort to be nice and to fit in. And so I leaned closer and said “Sorry, you’ve got a hair here, may I?” Ever so carefully I pinched the hair between my thumb and forefinger and pulled.
“OW!” Tallia squealed involuntarily. I pulled back in shock and looked at her wide eyed. What did I do? What did I do? I looked to her chest where she was rubbing away the pain.
Oh no. It wasn’t…
Argh! It was!
The hair was still attached…
To her nipple.
“I suppose she won’t want to be our friend after all,” Sava said to me, linking her arm in mine and giggling quietly as we all hurried back to our offices.
“I suppose not,” I replied, wondering how it is physically possible for a nipple hair to grow long enough to be able to poke through a bra and woolen sweater. "But I was only trying to help her..."
"Oh I know," Sava patted my arm. "Pulling nipple hairs out is very helpful."
"Yes," I agreed. "After all, that's what friends are for."