Just before my convocation, I begin work at Radio Canada International as a producer-announcer for African Eyes, a new shortwave radio show that will air in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Two teams—one French and one English, the latter I’m part of— come up with all the stories for the new programming with the help of our Senegalese and Québécoise bosses.
As I enter the Radio-Canada tower on boulevard René-Lévesque to pick up my
ID, a dark-haired, bright-eyed young man approaches me. “Travaillez-vous ici?” he asks in French. Do you work here? “Oui, Je vais,” I respond in French. Yes, I will.
“My name is Daniel,” he says, in English when he hears my accent. He extends his hand toward me. “I work for Dimanche Magazine.”
Dimanche Magazine is one of the flagships shows on Radio-Canada on Sunday mornings.
“I work for RCI,” I tell him. “For a show called African Eyes. It’s new.” We wait in line together. Daniel allows me to go ahead of him. When I have my ID, I wait for him.
“Well.” I look into his vivid green eyes. “I have to go back to work.” “Can I call you?” he asks.
Wow, this guy is forward, I think, plus very cute. I give him my phone number. He phones later that day and we go out for dinner on rue Sainte-Catherine. We
choose a table by the window.
“Qu’est-ce que tu voulais?” Daniel asks me as he looks at the menu. What do you want?
I remain silent and stare into his eyes. My stare forces him to look into mine. “I want a man who is faithful,” I tell him.
“I am so tired of all the failed relationships. I do not want to waste any more time.” I continue, almost in anger, “I want a man who will be there for me.”
“I will be.”
“I want a man who will listen to me and have sex with me three times a day and who will take me out to fun and interesting places.”
He finally smiles. “I will.”
“Daniel,” I say, unsmiling. “Please don’t waste my time. If you are not in this for the long term, then do not be in it at all. I have no time to waste.”
Daniel’s pale hand reaches out across the table and touches my dark one. “I will not waste your time.”
“Oh…” I grab his hand because I need to. “I have bipolar disorder.” I pause. “Do you know what that is?”
He nods. “My uncle has it, too. Do you take your medication?” I nod.
“All I ask, Donna,” his eyes turn a darker shade of green, “is to please promise me and yourself that you will always take your medication.” His hand squeezes mine. “My uncle almost burned down our house in Lévi, Québec. He almost killed my father. He threatened to kill my older brother, my younger brother and me…my mother….”
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about.” “I do not do those kinds of things.”
“Just promise me you will take your medication,” he continues. “My older brother is interning to be a doctor in New York. His girlfriend is a doctor up north in Québec. I was going to be a doctor too, but I love radio.”
“I love radio, too,” I say. “Do you have any other siblings?”
“Yes, another brother.” He smiles again, showing bright white teeth and a grin that reminds me of Jokey Smurf. “He is studying to be an engineer.”
“How old are you Daniel?” “I’m twenty-three.”
“You’re young,” I say. I’m surprised. The laugh lines around his eyes belie his youth.
“I’m twenty-seven,” I say. Then I ask, “When is your birthday?” “November 26, 1976.”
“You’re a Scorpio.” He nods.
“When is your birthday?” “August 12, 1972.”
“You’re a Leo,” he says. “I better not mess with you. I will be faithful. Will you take your medication?”
“Yes, I will try. For you, I will try.” “Do it for yourself first,” he says.