Thursday, September 9, 2010

Talk to the Hand

It’s September in Paris. Back to school, back to work, back to the très Parisian routine of métro-boulot-dodo.

But for some Parisians, it’s time to get a little action on the side.

At kindergarten.

Wait, let me explain. Big Fry is Big Man on Campus at school this year. At the ripe old age of five, he already has two years of maternelle under his belt. So when a new kid started speaking to his Papa in a mixture of French and English on the first day of school, he was there to show him the ropes.

That’s what French Dad thought La Mom was doing, too. But the ropes he had in mind were more along the lines of light bondage.

Here’s how the conversation went down:

La Mom:
So, your son is bilingual?

French Dad: Oui, Paul speeks both French and Eeenglish very well. He weel go to a private Eeenglish class on Wednesdays this year.

La Mom:
Is it in the 8th? Big Fry’s going there, too!

(Polite conversation in French ensues.)

La Mom (extending hand): I hope to see you again soon. By the way, I’m La Mom.

French Dad (looking at proffered hand as if it is a dead animal): Comment?

La Mom:
Je me presente. You know, I’m introducing myself?

French Dad (stammering): Ah, oui. Je m’appelle…D-d-d-d-didier.

La Mom (light bulb going on over her head): Well, don’t hesitate to let me know if you need any…help…with your English. (Slight raise of eyebrows for added effect)

No matter how long I live here, it still leaves me gobsmacked. Just because you talk to someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean you want to play touche-pipi.

Well, I’m looking at the bright side. Parisiennes have to get coquetted out in high heels and thigh-grazing skirts to turn heads. All an American girl needs to do?

Tell them to talk to the hand.


Rosabell said...

it is indeed a bit strange to "forward "your hand to a man just's like pushing towards him, or at least it feels like this... on the other hand it is also very anglo-saxon. It reminds me of the women who chained themselves in front of the Brittish Parliament to ask for the right to vote :))

La Mom-an American Mom in Paris said...

@ Rosabell,

Can you imagine the reaction if I had kissed him on both cheeks?!? ;)

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris

Rosabell said...

:) no, I cannot imagine that at all ... but I can imagine him, talking about it later on, with his friends/wife, making a fuss of it and feeling both disturbed and proud to generate it :))

Anonymous said...

You never fail to make me laugh! I've had similar experiences!

Paris Paul said...

Maybe he was afraid you were looking for a cinq à sept?

Kiki said...

Hilarious! I have experienced that awkwardness on many occasions, especially recently. We just moved to our neighborhood, and I am a polite person. I shake hands, introduce myself, etc. Men hesitate to take my hand, especially if his wife is standing there, but I extend my hand to her as well. It's like they think it's weird, or that I am flirting. Or maybe they are germaphobes. Congrats to Big Fry on starting kindergarten. My son started k a few weeks ago. I miss him, but really enjoy the "me" time. take care.

"All things French" said...

I am interested in this shaking hands ~ I don't usually put my hand out to shake a mans hand unless he does so first and this is usually in a business situation.In my area, handshaking is not really a done thing we just smile and say hello and at the end of a conversation we smile and say good-bye. if we are introduced by a friend to a man, a kiss on the cheek from the male is usually given & that's very nice!

Sara Louise said...

I always offer my hand (unless I've been double cheeked kissed first) and my French husband is constantly monitoring me interacting with other people. I keep trying to explain to him that just because I talk to a man, doesn't mean I want to sleep with him.
it's like a sexual, flirting, mind field here.

Anonymous said...

i love your blog. thanks for feeding our curiosity & encouragement to be fabulous. I'm stay at home mom & mostof the time i wear old clothes. i dress up only in the evening when we go out. i save all my dresses for special occation. my question is what about french stay at home mom do. do they really wear good clothes even when they stay home.if they do how they do housework you know cooking, laundry etc etc. could you share any tips please.
thank you

A House and Home said...

Funny...I just found your blog, and I am your newest follower!

Anonymous said...

La Mom, Why do Europeans have to learn English from North Americans? All they have to do is learn it from the British. After all, it is their very own original language and they live a lot closer to the Continent. In case the Europeans have an accent in their English, remember, they already speak their native language beautifully. Don't you have an English accent when you speak French?

annie mason aka junky gal said...

Something to remember next time I travel to Europe. We always shake hands. I didn't know it was an "american" thing. When I went to France last year, I was told to not make eye contact to strangers when walking on the street. And certainly do not say "hello" to a stranger on the street. This seems so odd when there are no other people on the street - just me and the stranger. There is always an exchange of pleasantries.

Delana said...

No House and Home, now I'm her newest follower!

I can't believe I haven't found you before. Love you're blog. And Sara Louise is spot on. It's a mine field. And I have yet to find a Frenchie who can properly explain to me how to go about it all without committing minor (or major) transgressions.

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

ah, pffft. Same here. If you smile or indulge in small talk they always think you have other things in mind. As if. Can't a girl just be polite without someone thinking that she is coming onto them???

The ColoIowaConnectifrancilite said...

"Oui, Paul speeks both French and Eeenglish very well. " hahahah that made me smile. Thank you for that. I am a Francophile getting back used to living in the USA again... and that kind of simple funny moment from France are great to remember.

Laura said...

Good to know!
In Germany they are all obsessed with hand-shaking. To be polite you should definately shake someone's hand to say hello. Even children learn this at an early age.
Laura in Ludwigsburg

nmaha said...

I think I just wet my pants.

Linda said...

I'm so confused! So are www to kiss a man on the cheek rather than shaking his hand? And that seems pretty bold without smiling first.

Any tips for a tourist?


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