Thursday, July 14, 2005

Loving the French

When that whole "Freedom Fries" thing came up...I was cringing. As if our french fries could even hold a bic lighter to pommes frites. There is absolutely no comparison and we should feel lucky that the French even allow us to call our pale, greasy imitation a "french" fry.

It's true...I drew a "moue" or seven while I was there. Particularly in Paris, where the tone is a bit higher. The coat check ladies at the Louvre were particularly offended by my smelly Barbour jacket that I wore everywhere. They thought I was a Brit. And everyone pleaded with me to please not speak French. That's how amazingly bad my French it is spoken very slowly with a thick South Carolina Lowcountry accent.

"ou est la toilette, y'all".

But I think I got points for at least trying to speak the language. I always loved David Sedaris' "Me Talk Pretty One Day"....because that was so me as well.

It is one thing to love France. Many people love France. But it is another thing entirely to love the French. I know my sister loves France...and she goes there quite often. I wish I could travel there as often. But I'm not sure she loves the French as I do.

Loving the French means submersing yourself in a set of priorities that are quite foreign to Anglo sensibilities. It means being violently passionate about certain things....and suffering from a dreadful ennui about others. It means caring deeply about human rights, tradition, food, wine, leisure time and sex, while at the same time having an abiding concern and devotion to Catholicism, family and privacy. As I do with any culture, I identified more with the country folk than with the Parisians. I just don't enjoy "putting on the dog" as we say, as much as other people. Paris is all about "putting on the dog".

I'm probably putting it poorly. I'm fairly certain that I don't actually "get it". But I've tried awfully hard to do so. I was probably as much of an ugly American as the next guy.

But I think I got points for not asking directions to the Bastille.


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