“Without France, the world would be alone.” Victor Hugo
Would we indeed be alone without France as Monsieur Hugo states? Mmmmm…he was a Frenchman and therefore could be considered a little biased. However, when you think about it, France, even though it is small in size carries a huge influence on the world. The USA was so miffed at one point that “Freedom Fries” were invented. It was as if we were annoyed at our older brother: “Well I’ll show him, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!!!” Perhaps France is a woman and the United States a man and therein lies the problem. Some men can not handle an intelligent, strong woman. Most French probably just rolled their eyes at the thought of renaming French Fries. (at least that is what I hope) One French man in particular, Jean-David Levitte, decided he needed to fix our relations and flew 100 veterans to France in order to bestow upon them the Legion of Honor to show France’s appreciation of our involvement in World War II. Many, many people spelled out “France will never forget” on the beach at Normandy. They gave 100 veterans the aforementioned award. an aside: Seriously though, isn’t holding the fact that we helped them in WWII over their heads a bit narcissistic? “I did this for you so now you have to agree with me for eternity? Come on….Delivering France saved us as much as it saved them. Besides, didn’t they help us fight against the British quite awhile ago in that Revolution? I say we are even.
“La Seduction” by Elaine Sciolino, who is the longtime Paris bureau chief for the New York Times, is a fantastic, engaging book; which gives a new glimpse into the French that I have not seen before. The book goes beyond other books about the French which usually center on how they dress, eat and don’t eat. Rather, this book gets into the mindset of the French by way of the word “Seduction.” From the book: “Séduction and séduire are among the most overused words in the French language. In English, “seduce” has a negative and exclusively sexual feel; in French the meaning is broader. The French use “seduce” where the British and Americans might use charm or attract or engage or entertain. Seduction is bound with what the French call plaisir; the art of creating and relishing pleasure of all kinds. The French are proud masters of it. They have created and perfected pleasurable ways to pass the time; perfumes to sniff, gardens to wander in, wines to drink, objects of beauty to observe and conversations to carry on. They give themselves permission to fulfill a need for pleasure and leisure that American’s hard working, super capilatlist abstinent culture often does not allow. Sexuality always lies at the bottom of the toolbox in everyday life in business, even in politics. For the French this is part of the frisson of life.” Elaine Sciolino “La Seduction”
Sides of Seduction by Lilyana Karadjova
Moi: When I was shopping in the lingerie department at a most incredibly beautiful mall in Paris I noticed a much older woman looking at the same black lace ensemble that I was admiring. Here is the difference between the United States and France. In The USA we would assume she is buying it for her daughter & perhaps for her daughter’s honeymoon (which I find to be a very, very odd tradition, I want my parents no where near my lingerie) but this is France and guess what, she was buying it for herself and why not? I can’t imagine being older and simply not existing anymore as I exist in my mind right now. What she was looking at was classy mind you and not something made out of string and fuzzy balls (no-pun intended ;-) Also, you won’t find those awful white bras and even more horrible giant tannish underwear in Paris they simply do not exist. If it does exist I have never seen it. What does exist is a sales woman coming into the dressing room with you and making sure that your new Chantelle bra looks perfect on you. Be prepared to be touched in ways that would in the States be considered sexual harassment. Luckily my sense of humor kicked in as the sales woman was making sure my breasts were perfectly balanced in my new Chantelle bra.
From the book: “On the day I met the queen of French lingerie, I didn’t expect her to show me her bra. But there I was, with Chantal Thomas in her boutique on the fancy rue de Fauborg Saint-Honoré when show and tell seemed like the right thing for her to do.” ..And then she asked me what I was wearing. I gave her a brief peak. I’ll say only that it was sporty, a neutral color and without lace.” “Okay,” she said flatly. “Well, it’s very American.”
My fascination with the French is always reignited every time I find myself in the company of one or in their country. The clothes that people where on the street, the appreciating of quality over quantity is everywhere from their chocolates to their shoes. You will not find worn out sneakers or bad sweatpants roaming the streets. Besides statistics show that when you dress well you actually feel better about yourself.
Brian Culbertson in Paris, France
“Although clothes don’t make the man, they certainly affect the way he feels about himself. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you are. When you don’t look good, it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people. Use this to your advantage by taking care of your personal appearance. In most cases, significant improvements can be made by bathing and shaving frequently & wearing clean clothes. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot on clothes. One great rule to follow is “spend twice as much, buy half as much”. Rather than buying a bunch of cheap clothes, buy half as many select, high quality items. In the long run this decreases spending because expensive clothes wear out less easily and stay in style longer than cheap clothes. Buying less also helps reduce the clutter in your closet.”http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/10-ways-to-instantly-build-self-confidence/
“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Freud
A chapter of particular interest is entitled: “La pipe and Le Cigare” Well, it has to do with politics and Clinton does come to mind, doesn’t he? When the Clinton & Lewinsky scandal broke out I saw the story unfold from Italy and the Italians looked at us like we were a bunch of hypocrites running after someone with torches about to pin the scarlet letter to his lapel.
True it was an actual hypocrite that asked for Clinton’s resignation. Remember Mark Sanford the governor of South Carolina who had the affair with the woman from Argentina? WEll, he happens to be the one who asked for Clinton’s resignation after the Lewinsky affair. Let ye without sin throw the first stone comes to mind. I never understood our fascination with Clinton’s affair. Obviously it was ill timed & he does swear an oath but it should have been left between he and his wife and not the media & Clinton.
From the book: The French never understood all the fuss about Clinton and Lewinsky, the young White House intern. “American are the puritan descendants of the Mayflower.”
Would the world be alone without France? You know that friend you have who is incredibly smart, who can correct your grammar, knows the latest health hazard to avoid (BPA) and has you double checking words like superfluous and looking up the definition of Cognitive Dissonance? That friend is France. The friend can be arrogant, grouchy and can sometimes treat you like your existence is a nuisance to their existence but the friend always makes up for this in one way or another and without the friend you may never have learned how amazing fresh baked croissants are. France makes up for any slights by way of their music, culture, food, art, great thinkers, architecture;etc..Oh, and giving us the word lingerie… ;-) Yes, without France the world would be alone.