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The day I left home, because things were really heating up with my boyfriend, my husband, I set off in search of myself. I left the little one with him, and headed for California with one idea in mind: to find the man I'd fallen madly in love with, the man who'd introduced me to body fever, curtain climbing and seventh heaven.

Patricia Blanchet

I went to the Air France counter and grabbed the first Jumbo to Los Angeles. I didn't have his Facebook, his e-mail or his cell phone number, because when I knew him, none of that existed. I did have a semblance of an address, the last one from which I had received his last letter twenty-five years ago. I hadn't replied, having since met my dude. So I set off with my latest shoes, the Sheen, the Bullit and my two suitcases full of the new collection, to show him what I'd become in all that time, with the firm intention of finding him and saying two words to him, if I had the time to say anything before kissing him.
Patricia Blanchet

All direct flights to LA were full. My only remaining option was to fly on a Macedonian airline (which went bankrupt a few months after this trip). As I couldn't afford to fly first class, this four-stop flight suited me just fine. We had to pass through Skpoje, The Hague, Reykjavic and Atlanta. And since that didn't seem to be enough for the crew, the plane had to make an emergency landing in Las Vegas due to a travel sickness. After spending my trip with a man who had boarded the plane with two buckets of KFC chicken wings, I disembarked exhausted, feeling as if I'd just flown line 13 of the parisian metro for twenty-four hours on a strike day, with the sound of the violin blaring in my eardrums.
Patricia Blanchet

The plane never left the city of the sin, it was the end of the line and it was up to us to make our way back to California. Especially for me, who, after passing through immigration, wondered how I was going to continue when I realized that my credit card wouldn't give me a single dollar. I collapsed in a corner of the airport with my suitcases, and started crying, telling myself that my boyfriend had put a jinx on this trip. Seeing my collapse, a short, bald man dressed like a cowboy came to meet me to find out what was happening to me and if he could help. He looked like that little character Benny Hill persecuted and kept tapping on the skull of. His name was Scott. So I told him about my adventures and my desire to turn back. He stopped me dead in my tracks and suggested I come with him to the hotel. Not to sleep with him, but for him to offer me shelter for as long as I wanted.
Patricia Blanchet

He had an enormous suite, a thousand-square-meter penthouse overlooking the Strip. He put me up in one of the rooms with a bed in it, then went downstairs to gamble at the casino before meeting me at Le Cirque, the hotel's illustrious restaurant. There he was very chatty, telling me that he was, in fact, twenty-two, despite appearances. That he was suffering from progeria, which was accelerating his ageing furiously. His father, afflicted with the same disease, had bequeathed to him vast tracts of land on the edge of Mexico, which he used to grow citrus fruit, which he then sold to people who liked to drink mojitos or put lemon in whatever they could get their hands on. When the meal was over, he ordered a bottle of champagne and two huge, bowl-shaped goblets, and asked me if I would marry him that very evening, in a chapel he was particularly fond of.
Patricia Blanchet

He found me dazzling, marvelous, and I shouldn't be frightened by his looks, he told me, because even if he wasn't to my liking, all I had to do was make an effort of imagination to see him as he was inside. Besides, this marriage wouldn't last long, as the most optimistic doctors gave him only two months to live at most. I was really annoyed, because Scott was adorable, a great soul, but that wasn't why I'd come, because I was looking for my guy, my best shag. Above all, I told him that I didn't care about money and that I wasn't looking for papers or a husband, but my eighteenth birthday shag. He collapsed with grief and I, seized with a foolish empathy, took him in my arms, hugged him tight as a cuddly toy and told him that I agreed to become his wife if we agreed that there would be no money, no life together and no honeymoon between us. Crazy with joy, he whistled to one of the hotel staff to fetch his convertible, in which we embarked for the union. Scott was so excited, he kept telling me about plans we'd never make together, he knew it, he was having fun with it. He'd turned the music up as loud as he could, laughing in delight. I didn't know him well enough, but I think he was happy. As we neared Old Las Vegas, the first signs announcing the chapels began to appear. He was adamant that we unite at the Cindy Lauper Chapel, which he adored. As his car pulled into the parking lot, he had a sudden jolt that sent him through every color of the rainbow, then with a last gasp, he collapsed on his steering wheel, against the horn, and the car slammed into another, causing a hullabaloo of crazy alarms, leaving me alone in the middle of the night. >To be continued ...
Patricia Blanchet

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