Friday, October 21, 2005

Frequently Asked French Questions

  • Are you English?
  • Where are you from?
  • Is that in Louisiana?
  • Have you met anyone famous?
  • Is there anyone famous from your state?
  • What do you think of George Bush?
  • What do you think of the Iraq War?
  • Do you have a boyfriend?
  • Do you have a gun?
  • Do you like Harry Potter?
  • Have you seen the Statue of Liberty?
  • What's your favorite food?
  • How do you like France?
  • Do you speak French?
  • Do you like France or America better?
  • How did you feel on September 11?
  • What do you think of current American politics?

Most of have been asked by students during my intro Q&A session; but that last one was asked by a Frenchman (That Guy) I met last weekend. I was invited by one of the English profs I work with on this group hike out in the countryside (I've found that the relative picturesque beauty of my surroundings is in direct inverse proportion to my ability to remember to bring a camera). I was making polite conversation with my fellow marcheurs, all of them nice middle-aged parent types, mostly consisting of the above questions. But This Guy, otherwise ordinary and unremarkable, starts off wanting to know my opinions of the present administration. Unfortunately I don't know the French for "Orwellian nightmare" so I ended up blathering a bit. Then he follows it up "I don't really like American culture." And I guess I should have been all offended or something, but honestly, it just made me laugh, because he was so nice about it. It was as if he said "I don't really like asparagus." I don't like your culture!
Okay, then! Duly noted. I'll make sure to send a memo to the Complaints Department! I asked him if he had ever actually been to the United States, and of course he hadn't.

It's my students, however, who've been asking about Iraq and 9/11 and my boyfriends with wide-eyed curiosity. I seem to be this exotic creature to them, with my crazy accent. It's harder to answer the simpler questions, actually, like "Who's your favorite ____?" because most of my favorite things are not what you call mainstream. There's not much point in telling them I love Meshell Ndegeocello or The Butchies. So I've been telling them absurdities like my favorite actress is Julia (BARF) Roberts, my favorite singer is Celine Dion, I love Tupac Shakur (never heard his stuff) and pizza (well, I do, but it's not my favorite). Then I go home and listen to Sleater-Kinney.


At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Your students must be pretty young and naive to think you have a boyfriend. Especially if you still have that cute boyish haircut.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger JaneFan said...

"...Julia (BARF) Roberts, my favorite singer is Celine Dion, I love Tupac Shakur (never heard his stuff) and pizza (well, I do, but it's not my favorite)."

ARGH! don't tell them those lies--you just sound like a stereotypical American with no taste or independent thought, someone who's just bought into the corporate sellouts! That's not you!!! So what if they've never heard of who you like! Maybe they'll look the person up because the 'cool American chick' said so and it will expand their boundaries--isn't that more your style?!?!

At 5:24 AM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Oh, I have plans to expose them to real American culture (as opposed to corporate product); but it's just the first week or so. I'll wait till they're used to me and I have an idea of their language abilities before I start throwing Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger at them.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger TP said...

I have that problem too. People ask me, what's your favourite this and that. I answer, and they look at me like I've a) gone completely bonkers or b) I am a strange alien from the planet whatthefuckissheonabout.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger kat said...

when I went to paris everyone assumed I was british too? what's the deal with that? any idea?


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