I first heard about Monsieur Seducteur from Madame C.
She had been playing La Belote (a popular card game in France) with M. Lechasseur, M. Leportugais and M. Seducteur. The latter talked a great deal about his love life. He said he’d had two wives and eight lovers. He was currently in a relationship with a younger woman but, by his own admission, two-timing her with another.
During the card game M. Seducteur received a telephone call. Madame C. told me it was definitely from a woman. She didn’t know whether it was from the current companion, or from the other woman.
“He called her ma cherie, mon tresor, ma poule, mon amour,” said Madame C. rolling her good eye and raising an impeccably pencilled eyebrow. “He made little kissing noises. Showing off.”
I was naturally curious about him.
“What does he look like?”
She thought for a moment. “He looks a bit like that English actor, David Niven.”
“What age is he?”
I began to think there must be something in the water. Madame C. has her own eighty-year old lover.
“He takes Viagra,” said Madame C. “He tells everybody about it.”
A few days after this conversation, I was at physiotherapy when an elderly man with powdery skin, white hair, a thin dark moustache and brown eyes like buttons, advanced towards me within the same set of parallel bars. I recognised him as someone with whom I had been exchanging “Bonjours!” for a few days.
We advanced and retreated, advanced and retreated.
He paused to exercise his new knee, making a kind of pawing movement, like a stallion.
“I have to exercise this one as well, in case it gets jealous.” He pawed the ground with his other leg. He smiled. The moustache curled.
That afternoon, I was reading emails on my laptop in the salon when he parked his wheelchair beside me.
“You look tired, Madame,” he announced. “Your eyes are not clear. I’m going to tell you about the wonderful remedy I take. Collagen. It’s miraculous. It keeps my joints, my muscles, my eyes in good shape. I never have an ache or pain. I’ve been taking the same pills for ten years or more. I get them from Canada.”
He urged me to search the Internet for the website of the producer of his magic pills. I thanked him. He wheeled away.
Madame C. came into the salon.
“Who’s that?” I gestured towards the man with the miracle pills.
“That’s M. Seducteur,” she said.
Less David Niven, more Michael Caine in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” I thought.
After lunch the following day, I had coffee with M. Lechasseur and Madame C. The subject of M. Seducteur came up again.
“He talks about himself a lot,” said M. Lechasseur. “And when he’s not talking, he likes to admire himself.”
M. Lechasseur pointed to his groin, and winked.