Friday, June 17, 2011

Americans in Paris

One of the reasons I was so upset about losing my only American friend in France is because she was the first American I’d met here who was…how do I put this?...um… like me?--  In the sense that neither of us were:

Tourists.  I don’t think a lot of people realize just how many Americans visit Paris every year.  Throw a pair of mouse ears on top of the Eiffel Tower and you’d think you were at Disney on a Saturday afternoon.  American tourists are easily picked out by one of the following:
1. A fanny pack 
2. A baseball cap 
3. Socks with sandals 
4.Oversized sweatshirts or fleece jacket 
5. Sneakers (tennis shoes)
5. An ability to project their natural speaking voices loud enough to be heard within a 2 mile radius.

Married to filthy rich businessmen.  When I first arrived in Paris, my daughter was only about four months old so naturally I was excited to find a group of American mothers in the Paris suburbs.  After a couple meetings though, I realized I didn’t have much in common with these (very pleasant) ladies.  Their husbands were wealthy businessmen who had been assigned to France for some work-related project.  I visited their rented luxurious French suburban houses where most of the group members sat around complaining about …the French.  Or living in France.  Or their cleaning ladies.  They had nannies even though they didn’t work and spent most of their time at the gym or at the spa, getting coffee with friends, or meeting with their therapist.

Green to the point of actually sprouting roots.  The polar opposite of the rich American desperate housewife is what many refer to as the ‘Green’ mothers.  Now, I’m all for recycling your garbage, keeping an eye on power and water usage, buying local produce and I’d even go so far as to start a compost pile in our yard.  But the Green ladies I’m talking about are the kind of women who only wear recycled fabric clothes, don’t bathe more than necessary in an attempt to save our oceans, won’t go near a normal grocery store and married Frenchmen so they could live out their dreams of opening an organic breastmilk tapioca bar in the Parisian suburbs or something to that extent. 

 or High Culture Fanatics.  As a writer ex-pat living in France, I suppose I could be as eccentric as I wanted and everyone would just say  ‘Oh, well…she’s a writer in Paris.  Aren’t they all a little eccentric?’  Not all.  But many Americans who’ve chosen to come live in the bohemian city are a little eccentric to say the least.  Dressed like they’ve just stepped off the Gautier platform, (think Mad-Hatter top hats, square glasses and 'foulards') They hang out in the literary cafés and have in-depth conversations about existentialist art or the feminist movement.

Needless to say, there is a reason I only had one American friend around here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

*CQG*

23 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I hope you meet another American friend and soon! I'm pretty sure I'd be your typical American tourist but without the socks and sandals!

Samantha Vérant said...

I'm sure it's much harder to make friends in Paris. While I've been unlucky with other things (i.e. my health), I have been lucky making friends in the South. Of course, two of them are Canadian...

Sorry to hear your friend left. I'm sure you'll be able to wade through the posers and find a new one soon! In fact, my friend, who just moved to Toulouse, used to live in Paris for wight years. Maybe I can connect you with some of the people she knows? I'll FB you...

Samantha Vérant said...

that was eight years.

Jen Daiker said...

Wow!!! I wish I could be your American friend! Here in Houston I've lived for three years and it's surprising that I don't have much in common with those folks who were born here. I'm a midwest girl and with that I've always been one on time, respectful, and likes to care of myself.

Meeting friends is hard because around here they just say "We should hang out," but never want to. Back home when they'd say it we normally would meet up within the week.

Grr. I wish I had the ability to apparate. Then I could have fabulous evenings out with you!

salarsenッ said...

Yeah, a baseball cap is a dead giveaway. :) Oh, your mommy play-dates don't sound like much fun. And gosh, I suck at recycling. Sound like if I lived in France, you and I would be huddled in a corner of some fancy-smancy bistro tee-heeing to high heaven over high fashion and praying the root thing isn't catchy. :)

Miranda Hardy said...

Lol, you crack me up. I hope you find a new American friend soon, too.

Kelly Breakey said...

Now I want to move to France, even if its just to see the crazy Americans walking around looking very mad hatterish. Of course we would be friends too. We could walk by those cafe's and stop in and get those crazy American's all riled up before we tutted off to enjoy latte's at a much hipper coffee house.

Okay, I don't drink coffee, but I would totally support you while you did.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Although I am sad for you about losing your normal American friend, I am laughing out loud over your characterization of the other kinds! This post proves why you are a writer, Katie! :D

Tom M Franklin said...

"and married Frenchmen so they could live out their dreams of opening an organic breastmilk tapioca bar in the Parisian suburbs" is such a wonderful line. Best of the morning, by far.

(You really have a gift for humorous observations in your new country. I cannot believe you're not turning them into a novel)

and since i doubt you're the only person in this lacking-a-reasonable-friend position, i recommend you start a business, renting yourself out. "CCG's Reasonable American Friend Service" Friendship and money!


-- Tom

Angela Felsted said...

I'm sorry your friend left. It must be hard to feel like a fish out of water like that.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I hope you find another American friend soon!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You can tell the German tourists in Thailand. They're the ones wearing speedos . . . when they shouldn't. ;)

Hope you soon find an American friend like the one you lost.

Lydia K said...

That's too bad. If I was in France, I'm sure we'd be friends, because our lists would match!

(And really. What is up with the socks and sandals? What's the point of that?)

Johanna Garth said...

I'm new to your blog and I was SO excited to read this post. I used to live in France. I used to feel completely alone wandering around over there. I know exactly what you're feeling....or at least I think I do. Have you tried the American Church (not for religion but for functions). I made American friends there sometimes. Also I befriended some amazing Brits who were constant bright spots in my life.

Cynthia Lee said...

This whole post made me smile/laugh.

I want to second the suggestion of an earlier commenter and tell you that I'd like to read a novel about your experiences in France. Too funny.

Melissa Buell said...

"opening an organic breastmilk tapioca bar."
This is the best thing I've read in a long time. :)

Jolene Perry said...

I have never understood fanny packs.

People travel to where I live and wear fanny packs. I walk around town just fine with my bag/purse, whatever.
This means that wherever I'm visiting, there are people who live there who manage to navigate their city without fanny packs. SURELY I can do the same.

It's one of my HUGE irritations when I travel.

Can you tell?

Talli Roland said...

The expat life can be a tough one when it comes to friends. London (probably like Paris) is a very transient place -- lots of people coming and going all the tmime. I can't count the number of times I've made good friends with someone and then a year or two later... they're gone. Sigh.

Old Kitty said...

Awwwww but what a wonderful and fab friend!! I say it's quality and not quantity with friendships!!!

May your friendship continue to grow stronger despite the distance!! Take care
x

Christine Danek said...

I hope you find another friend. I lived in Munich for a very short time (about 5 weeks) with my kids. I can totally was cracking up about the tourist list. Totally know what you mean. Even though the Germans were quite friendly, I did long for some American to talk to know and again.
HAve a great weekend!

Meredith said...

Haha, what an interesting variety of people! Not sure I would want to hang out with any of them, either. Here's hoping you find someone more suited to you soon!

Caitlin said...

I do my own bit to be "green", but there are always places I just don't go. Like, the whole not bathing thing. Yeah. I get funky after a day. And the whole family cloth thing...no. No ma'am.

This post got a good laugh out of me ;)

Fa L'Americana said...

I think I understand what you mean. I find that many (but not all) of my expat friends here in Sicily end up being friends of necessity. Not because we're a particularly good social match, but because there really isn't anyone else to choose from...

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