Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Shade In France

Business trip! To! France! draws near. I fear its Frenchy ways. I'm going to be mocked, I just know it.

I've never had the opportunity to be off the continent before, so this should be interesting. Possibly broadening. Definitely war-provoking.

Momentarily I thought I might emphasize my European heritage in order to ward off potential Gallic sneers. Perhaps I could pass as German. Yeah! The French love Ger-- oh.

The thing is, I circulate a high concentration of Ugly American blood cells. Probably I should just relax into the the truth and bust into the Louvre with a neon pink fanny pack, a leather NASCAR jacket, and an enormous Nikon with a telephoto lens the size of the Hubble that plays recordings of Mickey Mouse bearing greetings. They will love me.

I was sharing my concerns with Fletch The Extremist, who suggested that I break any potential international tension with a joke.

"What you do is," he said, "ask everybody why there are so many trees in Paris. Then when they say you don't know, you go, 'Because Nazis love to march in the shade.'" Yeah, that will smooth things right over.

croissant at:


Doddy said...

Focus. Focus. Focus. I can't believe you prefer Nikon over Canon - I thought you were an intelligent person (was going to say sensible but I take that back). Onto The French – for the English they rank a couple of rungs up on the ‘we hate you’ scale from the Australians (who we really only hate during the Ashes). Keep in mind I have no problem with French individuals – who are often very nice people – just ‘The French’. You will be mocked, sneered at, and generally treated as though you are speaking a foreign language (we all know English should be the official language of the EU). That’s the bad side. You will also be made (I hope) to eat unpasteurised cheese, drink unlabeled table wine, and generally have a very good time. Make sure to ask for the Beef Wellington at all the restaurants.

Cbell said...

Do you know where you are staying? When I went to London as a teenager I was rather shocked to believe that our hotel accomodations wanted everyone to share a bathroom. One bathroom per floor. What?! Are you kidding? I'm an American teen... I'm not sharing a shower with some elderly French guy who wants to leer at my croissants! My friends and I were actually relocated to another floor and we had our own bathroom, which was essentially the size of a broom closet. The sink was in the room and we pushed the twin beds together so that there would be a little more room to walk around and we wouldn't fear falling out of the bed.

Of course, there was a brothel just across the street. I learned quite alot in London.

Monica said...

I share your fear of public embarassment at the hands of 'The French'. I have not yet visited the nation that gave us croissants, champagne (though, not the greatness which is Blonde Champagne), and such memorable historical figures as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Toulouse-Lautrec. However, I just know I will be mocked and misdirected when I mangle words such as croissants and Toulouse-Lautrec. If my experiences in Montreal are anything to go by, you'll want to develop a thick skin.

As for Doddy's sad attempt to discredit Nikon, shame on you! How could you choose Canon over the likes of the wonderous Nikon D70 and their wonderful Coolpix line? What are you? French? ;-)

wurwolf said...

Hey MB! I would probably make an extremely ugly American abroad (which is why I've only ever left the country once, and that was to the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls for twenty minutes). Probably some exposure in other countries would do me a world of good. Anyway, as long as you don't stand in the middle of a restaurant and shout, "DIDN'T YOUR MOMMA GIVE YOU A NAME? AREN'T YOU PROUD OF YOUR NAME?" you should be fine. Have a great trip!

Anonymous said...

You know what the Landlords in Paris say . . .
La Rent est dieu!

MB said...


Meet wurwolf, everyone, a significant figure from my Internet past.

What's up, wulfie? Have you discovered yet? Come on over! There's a forum... and The Nelson is posting!

I'll be in New York in October and will make a pilgrimage to the original site of AIN'T YOU GOT A NAME.

Great to hear from you! Stick around

wurwolf said...

Ha! Double posting!

I have been to the Rifftrax site and plan on downloading Roadhouse when I can figure the blasted thing out. I think I'd have to download it at work because our home computer is sloooooooooow. Also, do I need an MP3 player or can I download it to flashdisk and play it on my media program at home? These are all questions I need answered before I'll commit.

Oh, The Nelson is part of the online community? I'll have to step over and flame him just for kicks. :o)

MB said...

You can play the Rifftrax right on your computer or burn it to a CD or whatever. I play mine right on my laptop. You know how down I am with the computers these kids have these days.

Yeah, head right over to the forums and be all, "Joel was so much better than Mike! Mike is worm droppings!" You'll be immediately popular. //thumb!
P.S. The riffings on the Chick tracts you have on your blog are snick-licious. He's done a few on us evil nasty horrible bad Catholics, who, it seems, are not actually Christians. Good to know.

mike, who can pass for french said...

I know I would definitely be a royal ass. It's just my personality. Once, when I crossed the Canadian border from Windsor to Detroit, and the border agent asked if I had anything to declare, I looked him straight in his beady eyes and said "I'm proud to be an American!" He didn't get it.

In France, I think I'd add "toot suite" or however it's spelled at the end of every sentence. Just to be obnoxious.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget your white tennis shoes and your Old Navy flag t-shirt (to wear under your NASCAR jacket)! Those will allow everyone to spot you as an American at 30 paces.

wurwolf said...

We'll be getting to the Catholic tracts eventually. We're starting with the Bible series and working our way through.

I registered over at the Rifftrax forum but haven't posted anything yet. I'm trying to get a feel for the place. I may jump in soon, though.

MB said...

The place needs you, wurwulf. We even have our very own pokemon, as in days of old. He got the first locked thread within like an hour of the place being launched.

red pill junkie said...

Just start any conversation like this:

"I'm an american,
thank you so much for Miss Liberty"

And you'll be fine.

Think about it, a gazillion types of cheese and wine to choose from, you'll think you have died and gone to heaven! ;-)

MB said...

I never thought about it THAT way! You're right... I've been so focused on the wine, I almost forgot all about the glorious, glorious cheese.

Kristen, already world infamous said...

Come Monday, I too will be venturing across the big pond for the first time. I've been trying to train myself not to look people in the eye or smile, as I've heard that these are not taken as just friendly gestures there. But once I speak with my distinctive Southern drawl, I think they'll understand and just dismiss me completely from there on out...

Have a great trip!

Heather the reader said...

MB -

Having spent a fair bit of time overseas and about a month total in Paris (totally against my will) there are a couple of things that will help you not get mocked quite so badly. If you insist on wearing tennis shoes, don't wear white ones. You can get away with jeans these days as many euorpean kids wear them. I'd suggest for a tennis shoe alternative those little "fashion" sneakers they have at Payless or any other shoe outlet that have nearly no sole and look like they came from 1973. While europeans don't tend to wear cross trainers, they do wear those kinds of shoes and they are surprisingly comfy.

As an alternative to a t-shirt, a tank top with an open button down shirt will also make you less mockable, if your wardrobe can accomidate it. If your bank account can accomodate it, bring half the clothes you think you need and buy the rest local. Ask your hotel maid where she buys her clothes - it will be much less expensive and the quality will be better than anything you will find where tourists go.

For that whole "I must eat" thing, try not to dine in restaurants on main streets. The best places to eat are on the side streets, and they are generally less expensive and owned by people from other countries who don't have problems with American tourists. And take an extra empty bag of some sort for everything you will buy that you think will fit in the luggage you brought!

MB said...

Those are outstanding tips, Heather. Thanks :)

jenna sais quoi said...

Yes, Heather is definitely your friend. Those are some good tips!

Also- if you tend to wear sparkly jewelry it gets a lot of (not necessarily positive)attention.

Granted we rode the Metro a lot, but my "modest" wedding ring got stared at so much that I ended up twisting it backwards so it would be less conspicuous.

Oh! also...when you go into stores, acknowledge the salespeople behind the counter when you enter and leave. And um...just assume that everyone around you can understand what you're saying in English, because that's definitely the case. (Although not everyone will be forthcoming about this!)

The restaurant advice was dead on- if they have anything that looks like it caters to tourists on the outside menus(hot dogs or hamburgers are a definite example) steer clear.

Yes, a few people will be snotty, but as long as they can tell that you're making an effort, the French can be much nicer than advertised.

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