Follow the progression part 2

... when we arrived at the hotel about an hour later there was already a message waiting for me. Robert Beltran had called and left the phone number of his Hotel, he was staying at Le Royal Monceau. Could I please call him back at my earliest convenience? Thanks, Robert.

Ball on my side of the court.

Okay, I'll admit it. I squealed. Wouldn't you have? Had you been me?

All three of us got into the elevator and we went up to my room. Pow-wow time yielded the following: I had a barely cobbled together outfit. I really had not traveled with anything fancy because in chorale concerts, unless you are part of the choir, most any choice of wardrobe is okay. Of my outfit, the best part was a beautiful pair of Calvin Klein high-heeled sling-backs in black leather which I had newly splurged on prior to my travel and, a curve hugging, over the knee, black pencil thin skirt. What I was wearing as a top I really don't remember, but did you notice how I can tell you now, exactly, what I had on my feet? In any case, it would have to do as there was no time for shopping, but I worried about the dress code for the concert. Would it be too fancy for my ensemble? Not being able to do more on that front, we went on to discuss again the risks of my meeting with a perfect stranger (even a well-known one) in Paris. I'll confess that the discussion was moot at this point. I was going to go. I knew this, the twins knew it too. All that was left was to try and settle the how of my going in advance.

In my country we have a saying about how a person makes you feel when you meet them for the first time. You either get "una buena vibra or una mala vibra." Here in the US there is the almost exact same expression, someone gives you either a good or a bad vibe. I had gotten nothing but a good vibe from Robert Beltran and that is why, having decided then to trust my instincts unless otherwise shown, I pushed the twins out the door and made my call. I was nervous enough as it was about speaking again to Robert that an audience wouldn't help me at all.

When I called the Royal Monceau they put me through and he answered the phone immediately. Good, I had gotten his message then. Was I still interested in going to the concert with him? I took a deep breath and said something along the following: Yes I was, but I had a question for him. The invitation was for a concert and nothing more, correct? Baldly stated and no beating around the bush as you can see. I felt more than heard the pause at the other end of the line. He said, no. The invitation was not only for a concert but also for dinner should I care to accept. Charming of him, I'll admit, but still not enough of an answer for me. So, I rephrased my question. He had, I hoped, no expectations for anything further than the pleasure of my company right? At this there was a true pause. And then he answered along these lines: Listen, I met you by chance crossing a street in Paris, you seemed like a nice, interesting girl. You told me you like music, I like music, my friends really did ditch me. Do you, or do you not want to join me for a concert and dinner afterwards?

Fair enough. I realized at this point that I shouldn't push it further if I wanted to go. I would just have to take him at his word. I told him I'd be delighted to spend my evening in his company. He said great, and that he would come by my hotel to pick me up in a taxi at around 5:30 as the concert was to be at seven or thereabouts and perhaps we'd like to go for an apéritif before it started?

When he told me he would pick me up, I truly panicked. Having been to Paris before, I knew about Le Royal Monceau like one knows about the Ritz no matter what world city one travels to. A stone's throw away from the Arc de Triomphe and other high profile landmarks, it was old world luxury personified in an ultra swanky Paris setting and I, was staying in anything but. If you've ever traveled with a large group like a choir, you can bet that on the scale, the accommodations weigh more towards the cheap and bare minimum. My hotel, was quite obviously not the 600 count Frette sheets environment that Robert seemed to be enjoying. I felt like the girl from the wrong side of the tracks so I told him I'd meet him at his hotel. Was I sure? it would be no trouble at all to pick me up... Absolutely not I said, I would rather meet him. Okay, he'd see me in about an hour then. Fine, I replied.

The next hour passed me in a blur and what next I remember is being handed out of a taxi by a hotel attendant as Robert walked out to meet me. How nice to see me again, he was glad I had decided to accept his invitation. I looked lovely he said. Did I care to walk a bit and take in the sights on our way to the concert hall? So we walked for a while and when the opportunity arose to sit at an outdoor cafe, we ordered something to drink and did as Parisians do. We watched people walk by as we chatted and got to know each other. No, he was not of Native American Indian descent. He was of Mexican extraction. His parents or grandparents (can't remember which) had emigrated to the United States and he was one of many brothers (at least 6 or more) born to them here. He had grown up in the US and he currently lived in California. He had a famous musician brother, Louie Cruz Beltran of whom, like the rest of his large family, he spoke of with love and pride. He was in Paris because his show was on a recording hiatus and until they started shooting again for their next season, he was there for some R&R and to research the life of Napoleon Bonaparte for a play he had the possibility in mind to write. He thought of Napoleon as an incredibly charismatic and interesting historical figure and I could tell he was clearly fascinated by the man's life and death.

How about myself? So I told him about how I lived and worked in DC as a video producer and digital editor and elaborated further on the reasons why I had decided to travel with the choir for my vacation. I told him about my own family and that I was one of two daughters born to diplomat parents which was one of the reasons why I could speak some French. My parents had always encouraged me to learn languages, and just plain learn. I was not married, and was not currently dating and so far so good on that front. I apologized for having accosted him out on the streets of the Quartier Latin and asked him if he was exposed to that kind of behavior regularly by his fans to which he replied that sometimes, though less in places like Paris where he could pass by more anonymously.

Soon enough, it was time to start walking again and we arrived at the concert hall (which one I cannot remember) though I am sure that somewhere amongst my old things I have kept the program. Our seats were superb. We were not in the orchestra section but on the first row of a balcony slightly off to the left side of the stage. Visually and acoustically I could not have asked for better as I had a perfect view of the conductor and all of the orchestra players. When the lights went down we settled to the joy of listening and it was indeed a very good concert. They played some Mozart, I definitely remember that and something by Haendel and then a more contemporary piece I think. At the interval he displayed more knowledge of music than I had imagined him capable of and impressed me beyond what I had already been impressed. He was a thoughtful, engaging, twinkle in the eye, half-smile-upon-the-lips kind of guy and I thought what a disservice the television did him as he was more attractive in person than anyone can ever imagine an actor viewed only through a screen could be.

Pause. I'm sorry to do this to you once more but I've got the dinner to cook and a poopy child to tend to. I will conclude this tomorrow hopefully. Again, until then.

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