Sunday, January 27, 2008

The French

*note from claire: let me first give you some insight into our interactions for a second. we were talking on the phone this morning, rufus having woken me up across time zones, and I mentioned that I'd posted some of the stuff he had send me to his blog as he had asked. I told him I took a few and posted them en masse, which you can see I did. Across the ocean, I heard his throat tighten slightly.

"How many?, All of them?, Just a few?"

"Just a few, to make it long enough. Some of your posts were small."

"did you leave in the titles?"

"Of course."

says kindly, and genuinely, realizing it likely doesn't matter: "well, I can't dictate how you do it."

But since I know he wanted me to do them one at a time and will be checking, his blog being pretty important to him, here you go honey, i love you and i miss you:

(Once again, The French)

The people who are renting me an apartment are extremely gracious. On the night I arrive, they welcome me into their home, during a friend’s birthday party, and give me champagne and cake. They offer me food and supplies for the apartment, and even take me out to eat after the party. They’re so friendly I’m almost afraid they’re going to rob me!

It might have something to do with Franco-American relations. They take me to McDonald’s, or “Le MacDo’s”, to get food. Afterwards, they assure me that French people really do like McDonald’s, contrary to popular belief. I’m way too polite to tell them that I don’t like McDonald’s. Instead, I joke about Pulp Fiction- they are both eating Royales with cheese. I’m a bit disturbed to find that the French really do call it “with cheese”, instead of “avec fromage”. On the other hand, if I called cheese “fromage”, I wouldn’t want to associate it with whatever the hell McDonald’s puts on their burgers.

In other MacDo’s news, they really do sell a sauce pour les potatoes frites, which really is mayonnaise. We also laugh about that scene from Pulp Fiction, and I try, and fail, to explain poutine to them.

I wonder briefly if they’re also trying to make up for the stereotype of the French as being rude. However, I have to say that my general experience is that the French are extremely warm and gracious people. I’ve had good experiences with the vast majority of French people that I’ve encountered. Maybe there’s something wrong with me!

I have a friend who speculates that it was the De Gaulle generation that really hated Americans, and he believes that the rudeness is a thing of the past. As for me, I’ve noted here before that, when Americans say that French people are rude, they really mean that Parisians are rude because the vast majority of them have only been to Paris. Moreover, they’ve been there as tourists and, like tourists to NYC, they tend to forget that it’s a thriving city where people are busy going to work and not especially inclined to stop and help them enjoy their stay. Americans in Paris tend to act like colonial settlers dealing with rude natives.

Maybe it is me though. I tend to meet extremely kind people wherever I go. I think I come across as well-meaning, if a little bit helpless. Also I genuinely enjoy most people’s company. To tell the truth, I think I generally long to be closer to other people. Unlike my grandmother though, I do not hug strangers. So, people have always been willing to help me, for the most part. I would also say that I would have accomplished very little in this life without the kindness of women. I’m probably not the only person that this is true for.

5 comments:

gregvw said...

There is always the possibility that at least some of the Americans who claimed to have been victimized by French rudeness did something to deserve it.

I personally have witness some premium American asshattery overseas. It does little to embiggen the patriot spirit.

Holly said...

Unlike my grandmother though, I do not hug strangers.

... yet.

I've wondered occasionally (most recently on Saturday when I dug my heels in about not eating at a recently re-branded restaurant that claims to be in the Chi-Chi's chain), if Americans are perceived as snotty or hypocritical or something, when not interested in eating at American chains while abroad. I know that plenty of Americans are happy to *insist* on eating at American chains abroad. I basically wouldn't eat at American chains, even in America. So it goes....

Hiromi said...

I've wondered occasionally (most recently on Saturday when I dug my heels in about not eating at a recently re-branded restaurant that claims to be in the Chi-Chi's chain), if Americans are perceived as snotty or hypocritical or something, when not interested in eating at American chains while abroad.

All the times I've been abroad, people were glad to see me take interest in the local food. Granted, I didn't say "American chains suck!" but instead "I can get that at home; I'd rather eat local food."

Rufus said...

Greg- yes, we saw this as well. Frat boys running through the Metros screaming, tourists bitching about the French people next to them- remember that very many ¨Parisians speak English as well- quite a bit of shoving and puffing.

And I've noticed that people who tell me about the rude French tend not to be the cream of the crop themselves.

Holly said...

Hiromi- "I can get that at home" is sort of the crux of the problem, since we live here, and since what we were after actually *was* not-local food. We were looking for Mexican food and found they were serving Wienerschnitzel and Wurst and so on. It's kind of mysterious to me why a place called "Chi-Chi's Tex Mex" is serving freaking sauerkraut and so on, but I guess life wouldn't be worth it without mysteries...