Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Parisiens are the new New Yorkers

Last weekend I had brunch with the Frenchest Frenchman I've ever met. Well-dressed, slightly greasy, can't help himself from winking every time he makes eye contact with a woman. Winks that make you feel like you're the only woman in the whole world, even though there are three other girls at the table, all getting the same treatment. He's basically the personification of a beret and a baguette.

But probably the Frenchest thing about him was this: "I went to Canada once. Why is everybody so nice there? They were so nice, for the first three days I thought they were making fun of me"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

At home, I never give much thought to being Canadian. I don't drink Molson, I think bashing the US is pretty played out, and I always have to think for a minute about who's Prime Minister. (And even after I think about it, I might still say "Jean Chretien.")

But something about travelling gets me all revved up about the True North, strong and free. I get excited about meeting other Canadians in Paris, even if I don't have much in common with a perfect stranger who grew up in Medicine Hat. I know at least they'll be able to spell "toque," and if I bump into them I'll get an apology.

Even when other Canadians are in short supply, though, people here love talking about Canada. I mention -30 days in the winter, and their eyes pop. I explain poutine, and their mouths water. And everyone's got an opinion. Like English Charlie, who approves wholeheartedly of Canadians on account of our "proper money with the Queen on it." According to Charlie, Canada is "one of the most right-on countries in the world. Probably only Sweden is more right-on," and we all "stand at the border holding hands, shouting 'give peace a chance, America!'"

And while I know it's lame to take pride in something as sheer-random-chance as being Canadian, I do like talking about Canada, and even get a little smug explaining things like, "of course our healthcare is paid for in Canada," "no, Canadians don't own handguns," and - most importantly - "in Canada, convenience stores are open past 10pm."

I'm prepared to own up to that national pride. A country where you can buy a magazine, a bottle of water and chapstick all at the same store is a glorious place, France.

But as to that girl in the Latin Quarter last night whose arms went over her head when the video for "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" came on the TV? The girl who crowed, "Shania Twain! She's Canadian!" Brunette, about 5'8, glasses?

...never seen her before in my life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this place

Me: I was trying to write you a cheque for the rent, but can you help me? These French cheques are different from the ones we have at home.
Roommate: That's because it's not a cheque.