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Crazy, Creepy, or Just French?

By Tory Hoen

Today I would like to play a game I have invented called “Crazy, Creepy, or Just French?” I realize that these categories are not mutually exclusive, but for the sake of the game, we will try to draw some sort of distinction.

If you disagree with my conclusion, you are free to weigh in with comments. In fact, I insist you do. (Not you, Mom). The best comment will get some sort of prize… probably in the form of an e-card or some type of artistic work that I create using Paint.

So, here we go…

1. Last week, I was running an errand for my boss. It was sunny; I was feeling kind of cool because I just bought some new Ray-Bans and they make me look a bit French. (Real French people would probably disagree). As I approached a group of people outside of a café, one of the guys in the group sort of stepped in front of me and refused to let me pass until I agreed to "faire la bise" with him. (The double-cheek kiss that you do if you’re (1) European, (2) in Europe and interacting with Europeans, (3) are a nightclub promoter in the U.S. and want the world to know that you’re a total sleaze). I found this quite cheeky, perhaps even shocking. But even more shocking? The fact that my first instinct was to comply and to ask "Comment ça va?"

How's it going? Maybe I’m the creepy one.

Anyway… Crazy, Creepy or Just French? My conclusion: Just French (and maybe a bit drunk).

2. Then there was the old lady in the metro. She was looking a bit worse for wear, and she approached me and asked for a Euro. I searched around in my wallet and handed her a pile of coins, which she promptly sifted through and then gave me the most hateful look I’ve ever been given, accompanied by a soft and venomous growl. What? Maybe I had just fallen short of a Euro... it couldn’t have been less than 90 centimes... GIVE ME A BREAK! I’m a struggling wannabe writer and the dollar is not so hot right now. Assuming she’s benefiting from the incredibly generous French unemployment system, she should probably have given ME a Euro. But whatever. I coughed up some more change, she gave me another look of icy disdain, and moved on, having thoroughly put me in my place.

Crazy, Creepy, or Just French? My conclusion: Crazy… and quite French. And definitely drunk.

3. Speaking of the metro…. On my way home from work, I have come across the same woman three or four times, and her behavior leads me to believe that she is quite short-tempered indeed. Each time I have observed her, I have been reaching the platform just as she is fleeing it, SCREAMING: “Putain! J’en ai marre de ce merdite metro! Je m’en fou! Je m’en fou! Je m’en fou!” (“Whore! I’ve had enough of this shitty metro! I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care!”) Whoa, lady. We all know rush hour is rough, but calm down and have a kir.

Crazy, creepy or Just French? My conclusion: Incredibly French.

4. I live on a noisy street. A few nights ago, a very rowdy group of French kids passed by my window. How did I know they were French? Because they were all singing in English: “I’ll be there for youuuuu…..alalaalaala (they didn’t really know the rest) lalalaa”… Yes, the theme to “Friends”…. every French person’s favorite show of all time. Maybe not every French person’s, but the vast majority, for sure. If you ask a young French person if they’ve been to New York and they haven’t, they say “No, but I’ve seen ‘Friends’.” (This is supposed to impress you).

Crazy, creepy or just French? My conclusion: Just French…. And drunk, of course.

5. I was in a cab a few weeks ago and, per usual, got into a deep discussion about something nonsensical with the driver. He asked where I was from and what I hated about Paris. At first, I couldn’t think of anything. Then I realized, yes, there is something. I hate that you can never find a cab after 2am.

It is the one thing I really miss about New York: the heavenly vision of the yellow taxi in the night, emerging from the darkness to take you home, no matter where you are, what you’ve done, or where you’re going (unless you’re going to Brooklyn and then they start whining and saying things like “You didn’t look like you were going to Brooklyn").

This Parisian cab driver, though, seemed astonished that one would have trouble finding a cab. “You just have to put your sexy finger in the air,” he said, demonstrating with his own sexy finger. “Just take your sexy finger, and put it in the air, and every car will stop.” Fair enough. When I tried it later that night, however, my sexy finger proved completely unsexy and ineffective. And while I was unsuccessfully trying to lure cabs, I dropped my sexy cell phone against the window of an already occupied cab, and the whole ordeal was incredibly awkward and decidedly unsexy.

Crazy, Creepy or Just French? My Conclusion: I don’t know. Perhaps Lebanese? Hopefully not drunk.

Tory's blog, A Moveable Beast, appears regularly on Gradspot.

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