I love the French

Posted by anya on March 24th, 2008 filed in Uncategorized

…because of things like this:

A doctor I know told me he once bought a coat at a small men’s boutique only to discover that it had a rip in the fabric. When he tried to return it, the shopkeeper gave him the address of a tailor who could repair it — for a large fee. They argued, and the doctor reminded the shopkeeper of the French saying, “The customer is king.”

“Sir,” the shopkeeper replied, “We no longer have a king in France.”

…and this:

“The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion,” Yves Saint Laurent once said. “But cosmetics are easier to buy.”

both taken from this article in the New York Times.

Aside: the whole entry made me think of  La Première Gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules, a wonderful little book by Philippe Delerm. It was once recommended to me by a French friend, and is a collection of short chapters about all the little pleasures that the French love to enjoy. I’m not sure whether it’s available in English, but I don’t think it really matters, since we all have these little lists of things that we love to indulge in. Slow sunday (monday for me today) mornings, that first run of the day on your snowboard, the priceless alone time spend in one’s bathtub, buying overpriced raspberries, that time spent walking along a deserted street with a good friend, etc etc….
There are few things that I try to generalize about, but in meeting several native French speakers (not all of whom have come directly from France, mind you) lately, I have realized what it is I love about their ‘culture’: it’s that ability to be opinionated and wrong and right and rash, and yet to do it with an amount of style that one can’t help but admire. And in the midst of this, they take time to enjoy all those little things that Delerm wrote about. That’s also why I think so many say that the French are assholes. We’re not used to people really standing up and being able to take theses leaps of faith in the North American context. I have definitely been accused of sitting on the fence far too often, when I should perhaps take a stand. And it’s always this sentiment of the fact that one has to be working, earning, jogging, saving the world, being an activist, rushing to catch all the discounts on boxing day… the whole Alice in Wonderland thing. except saturated with a degree of political correctness that manifests itself in this society like in no other.
so it seems like there’s a (false?) dichotomy between being an asshole and being boring. ahhh, my wish is to one day live in France, and see for myself how I deal with everything there. whether I can actually come to adopt some of the things that I admire (and try 5 million varieties of cheese, of course). the boring thing is getting old. the Vancouver thing is getting old.  

[please please please no comments of my inherent elitism in writing this post. I am well aware of it.]

One Response to “I love the French”

  1. kathy Says:

    It’s not fair! You posted a no-comment stipulation. It’s like you knew what I wanted to say and prevented me from saying it. Can’t I also be opinionated and right and wrong and rash? Then again, I would love to live in the simple pleasures of life yet be excited about things that matter and things that don’t. You’re right, the mad rush is getting old but as you know, I stand by my adoration of my hometown. Despite how mundane the routine might get.

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