Simone says she likes our mall cinemaplex. “It’s all so much bigger in America. You can choose from not one movies. You have six movies to choose.”
The couple of times I have been out with Simone I see America through her eyes. She makes me look at things that I don’t normally think about, because, well, I guess I’m used to them. For instance, parking lots. Simone said in France you can park two normal sized cars where only one Escalade can fit. “So much space for parking cars,“ she shakes her head in amazement.
She then mentions our streets. “USA streets are wide and very straight. They are made for (and I had to help her out on this word, it took a little guessing) convenience, like everything is made in the States.“ She is also amazed at our late store hours. She said she knows she will be spoiled going home. “In my town, I will want to go to a store at night and it will be closed. Not here. Everything is on all night. America and Americans are always awake.“ She likes a lot about the States, especially our free water when going to a restaurant. “We must pay for our water.“ She laughs, “Our water must be very good then to pay for privilege of drinking it.“
Another thing she talks about always makes me laugh, “America is very preoccupied with its body odors. The French are not so concerned.” When I think about the three aisles of shampoos, deodorants, mouthwashes, etc. most stores have, I guess she has a point.
For someone not concerned about body odors, per se, Simone smells nice, in that she carries a nice fragrance about her. I don’t wear perfume, mostly because I think of old ladies overdoing the Chanel whenever they pass by me in stores. Somehow Simone wears a scent that reminds me of the outdoors after a spring rain. That makes her sound like an air freshener, which is not very complimentary. She does remind me of spring. She is happy–make that cheery, like that glimpse of sun behind the grey skies of March. She says she tries to live her life like the springs of Paris, “A lightness, a gladness that winter is past and the flowers soon bloom.”
I’d love to ask more about her culture–yet somethings I’d be way to embarrassed to ask. Like, I heard European women don’t shave. How do you ask someone that? I’ll pass, but I am curious. Shaving doesn’t really come up in our conversations. The few times we’ve gone out together she is priming me for more about our culture. She asks questions about everything and it makes me have to think about what it is like to live in the United States. Actually, I’ve learned more about America through a French foreign exchange student’s eyes than all my fifteen years of living here.
Simone says she wants me to come to France so she can see her country through my eyes. I like the idea of doing that. I doubt it will happen. Maybe if Mom decides to cover French fashions or Dad does an article on traveling through Europe on twenty-five dollars a day would we actually go. Fly over by myself? Not happening. Cost, nervous about airports, connections, customs, having to talk to people I don’t know, it would be a real comfort zone squeeze. Europe. It sounds so amazing the way Simone describes it. She tells me to come over as an exchange student. Oh, sure. My French knowledge would fit in thimble. Even Simone laughs at my miserable pronounciation attempts at the words she tries to teach me.
“I try not to laugh at you. I love the sounds of my languaage you try to make. You are my best American friend.”
You know what? Simone is becoming my best American friend as well.
- Day Fourteen: No Plot. No Problem. (In Theory) (veranano.wordpress.com)
- Everything You Every Wanted to Know about Living in France (willows95988.typepad.com)
- Becoming French 101: How to Live and Work in France (hipparis.com)
- Day Seven: A Foreign Encounter of the Library Kind (veranano.wordpress.com)