14 July 2010

Happy Bastille Day France!

This blog entry is actually not so much an update as just a recollection of a few things I’ve learned about Parisians since I’ve been here.  And I say Parisians very cautiously because I don’t want to refer to the entire population of France when I say these things, especially considering that Paris is the city I’ve spent the greatest amount of time in.  That being said…

 1.     They really don’t have any sense of what we refer to as ‘personal space.’  For example: Carey, Abby and I went to lunch at the Crous cafeteria today – always a poor choice.  While waiting in line, Carey kept commenting on how close people were standing to her, until one man literally had the tip of his shoe against the back of her foot, and was physically touching her back with his elbow.  Who does this!  We were honestly mortified.  Not only was it about a billion degrees inside the cafeteria, but the line was probably about 20 minutes long and it didn’t smell all that pleasant either.  Why would you want to stand literal centimeters from someone else in those circumstances?  And these encounters happen at least every hour of every day, because for who knows what purpose, people here stand incredibly disgustingly close to one another.  Abby’s astute assessment of the situation: “and they wonder why the Black Plague spread so rapidly here.”

2.     They don’t bathe!  This is the only explanation I can give for how poorly a great deal of Parisians smell.  The Metro is one of the most god awful smelling places I’ve ever been in, and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Tijuana bathrooms, so that’s really saying somethin’.  Every experience I have on the Metro is either one of two things: a) crowded and/or b) stinky.  I’m beginning to think that Parisians really have a thing for being smelly and sweaty, because none of them seem to mind any of this.  So as myself and whoever I’m with are fanning at ourselves like our lives depend on it (because they sort of do, I would die if I breathed our of my nose all day long), the surrounding Parisians just take it all in – it’s like they love it or something.  And y’know how people say that the French don’t bathe but rather use perfume to smell nice?  It’s not true!  Maybe 1 in 100 women has perfume on, and if they do it’s something disgusting smelling, so it doesn’t help the matter anyway.

3.     They don’t like old people, women, or children.  Case in point: there are signs on the Metro that say that the seats are reserved for elderly people, women with children, and pregnant women.  Do men every get up out of their seats if somebody that fits the bill steps onto the Metro with no place to sit?  Of course not, why would they?  They’re Parisian.

4.     Their sense of “politeness” is skewed, meaning in short that they are all pretty rude.  Bumping into somebody in a crowded Metro = not a big deal, happens all the time.  But purposefully walking straight into somebody in a crowded Metro because you’re too rude/lazy to step to the side = really obnoxious, but happens all the time as well.  Shopping malls in Paris?  Forget about it.  Trying to carry any extra baggage other than yourself around in a crowded area is just asking to get knocked over.  I get to the point at the end of my day where I want to walk in a straight line and literally bulldoze over any and every Parisian that stands in my way – yes that includes you precious babies wearing berets!

Okay, okay, the Parisians aren’t all that bad I guess.  Some of them are friendly and the men are really nice too (sarcasm)!  Cat calling = not attractive.  Some guy came up to a girl in our group and said, “you are the sex.”  That’s all.  Probably not a game-winning tactic.

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