Wednesday, November 08, 2006
When I was just a tadpole, my mother told me: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” So I decided to move across the pond to Paris, France, a city filled with frogs ripe for the kissing. French kissing, that is…
What many people don’t know is that Paris, France is actually a Third World Country disguised as an aesthetically beautiful and civilized land filled with art, poetry and artery-clogging pastries. It’s mathematically quite easy to adapt to culture here – just multiply the time it should take a task to be accomplished by 147.46 and that’s how much time it will take for this task to be accomplished in France, or by a French person. Opening a bank account? TIST (time it should take): one hour. TITIF (Time it takes in France): minimum 4 weeks. Painting the door of a building. TIST: 3 hours. TITIF: 3 months. And if you purse your lips together and make no attempt to smile, laugh or emit any signs of emotion while performing said undertakings, you’re totally in. Félicitations, you’re French.
Anyway, so back to my amphibious animals across the Atlantic. Frogs are often slimy creatures. The French have a word for this. It’s “drageur.” In reality, a “drageur” is just a synonym for any male of Gallic origin, but a more official definition might be “player” or “a male of Gallic origin who enjoys hitting on unsuspecting females with the direct goal of sleeping with said females.” Drageur-radar is a learned skill, and one that I can now boast that I do in fact possess. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes, but they all have one ultimate goal: to say absolutely anything necessary to get you into bed with them. You can’t blame them – it’s in their (extremely tight) jeans. All of the old philosophers did it. I mean, just picture Jean-Paul Sartre sitting pretty at Café Flore and seductively telling the lady next to him “In love, one and one are one.” I can just see her heart melting (mine certainly is.) Or Victor Hugo: “To love another person is to see the face of G-d.” Oh Vic, stop, you’re making me blush.
Before you start kissing said frogs, you need to redefine your definition of a “man.” French men are not athletic, they smoke, they’re skinny, they have big noses and order girlier drinks than you. And even the most heterosexual of them kiss each other frequently and enjoy shopping – many even cry. The hair gel industry in France must be breaking records, since the average hair gel-to-strands of hair ratio is currently at an all-time high among French men; I’d estimate around 7 kilos of gel per strand.
Being an American female in Paris is comparable to a bone being thrown into a cage filled with rabid dogs; one is inevitably poked, prodded, licked and barked at until the canines get bored and move onto another. While the French-English dictionary boats thousands of words, there are really only a very few indispensable phrases for every American female to know. “Dégage!” (Get out of here!) “Fut-moi la paix!” (Leave me alone!) and, if need be, “Je suis lesbienne!” (I am a lesbian.) Even that one doesn’t necessarily always work on this carnivorous, persistent species we call the French male.
Unfortunately, Hollywood has romanticized “le French lover” causing many American females to dream about gorgeous, charming men who speak only in a dull whisper, rolling their r’s as they roll onto you in a passionate embrace. Think: Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful, Vincent Cassel in Derailed, Gérard Depardieu in My Father, The Hero (no just kidding, I was just making sure you’re paying attention.)
That’s not to say that all French men are of the “drageur” variety. Au contraire…there are many good-looking, even tall and muscular, kind, more reserved Frenchmen all over the country. 99.999% of the members of this rare species however are, in fact married (and/or have an affinity for the male race.) However, just because the French man of your dreams is married, certainly does not mean that you should give up hope. In fact, the fact that he is married, enhances your chances of sleeping with him. In America, cheating on one’s spouse is looked down upon. Not that it is never done, but, if/when the act of adultery is committed, it is usually done in secrecy (or attempted secrecy at least.) In France, adultery is considered less of a crime than speaking loudly into one’s cell phone in a restaurant. Bring your mistress home while your wife is asleep in the next room, Pierre, but if you even think about talking over a whisper when she calls your cell… When Bill Clinton “did not have sex with that woman,” it caused a huge political scandal. Yet, at François Mitterand’s funeral, his wife and mistress were photographed side by side, sharing a sob over the death of their lover. That, mes amis, is the difference between France and America. We’re not more moral in America, we just try to act like it in public. Do you expect of a people who eat cheeseburgers with a fork and knife?
There are bi-racial couples walking all over the streets of Paris. By this, I mean of course, the “scrawny, ugly male” race interbreeding with the “tall, beautiful female” race. They’re everywhere. Snuggling in cafés, making out in the subway… everywhere. At first, I simply thought that French women are genetically partly blind. Now, however, after vast scientific research, I have come to the conclusion that they just simply have no choice. For every 27 tall, thin, painfully gorgeous, well-dressed, put-together French women, there is one arguably attractive French man. Thus, the other 26 females are forced to forego Gérard the Gorgeous for Pascal the petit, Hugo the hairy and François the funny-looking. Just look at the discrepancy among French movie stars. Juliette Binoche, Cathérine Deneuve, Nathalie Baye and Ludivine Sagnier vs. Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Jean Réno and Romain Duris. Sure, these actors are very talented but, let’s be honest, they aren’t aesthetically worthy enough to be in the same room as these beautiful women, let alone sharing the same screen. Yet, who is to say that it’s only the good-looking frogs who turn into princes?
So with that, I return to Le Pond, in preparation of my next amphibious adventure.