Since my last few posts on living in France, the mantra of "Paris" has been a constant. But, Folks - for the thousandth time - going to Paris doesn't tell you anything about France: you're a tourist, sucking up an image they're trying to project, just as they suck up a self-image of themselves as heroes (and not collaborators) during WWII - and your never ending, anti-American, worship of that cowardly country is sickening. You don't understand what you're looking at:
They're still using those ass-backwards roads cut by the Romans, for Christ's sake. Find yourself on one of those and you'll have be driving for an hour to travel a mile. A trip on the main highways - going the distance of, say, from San Francisco to Los Angeles (if they were in France, of course) - would cost you an extra $100.00 for all the tolls you'd have to stop and pay, and not one of the main highways goes directly to your destination. Look on a map and see.
Would you want to live like that? Gas at $9.00 a gallon? A T.V. tax which, if your neighbor discovers you didn't pay yours, they'll tell on you? (Yea, France is a nation of snitches.) How would Americans like them apples on a day-to-day basis?
And France is one of the most inconvenient places in the Western world. For instance, you can use a cell phone all over Europe, until you get to France. Then you have to buy one of theirs. Many places won't even accept an American Express card (!?!) and, honestly, if I never hear the phrase "We do not have" again (when I'm ordering something from a menu, whether it's in a fancy restaurant or a snack stand) that'll be fine by me. I once had to go across the street to a supermarket, to buy cream for a coffee I bought in a fucking McDonald's, because those morons would rather I went without than attempt to deal rationally with that situation. (Since they watched me go get it, nudging each other like I was being a total smartass, after I poured some in my joe, I presented the carton to them with a flourish, and the words, "From the good people of America to you!" God, they hated that.) Fucking losers. It almost seemed like they were determined to make me "The Ugly American".
On most days in the U.S., I can make a list of things to accomplish that's, at least, 5 to 20 items long. And, if I have a car, I can get most, if not all of them done. In France, I'd be lucky if I can do three, what with the traffic jams from the tiny streets (and, no, using tiny cars don't help, which is why they live, much more, through their cell phones than we do: they're calling each other, constantly, to cancel, or reschedule, meetings. And what meetings they have: every doofus gets a chance to speak whether they make any sense or not. Even if everyone knows someone is a total retard, they get the same amount of attention - even if a solution to the problem was found an hour ago. Talk about maddening.).
Request some ice for your room temperature soda and the counterperson will act like you farted. How about finding yourself in a long line at the supermarket and the check-out girl is talking to her girlfriend - while smoking - and both could give a damn that anyone's waiting? Fool: she'll get to the line when she's good and ready, and when that time comes, she'll act like that gathering crowd is inconveniencing her life, instead of the other way around.
Hell, you can sit in a bar or cafe for what seems like hours before anyone will serve you - and they'll be staring right at you the whole time! After months of that shit, I got in the habit of ordering across the room in a loud voice, finishing whatever I ordered with the German word, "Schnell!" ("Now!" or "Quickly!") Let me tell you, nothing gets a frog hopping faster than German from an angry black American's mouth. The imagery, to them, is terrifying. But you get to eat.
Or, for the completely opposite effect of being ignored, imagine yourself standing on an empty street corner, when some idiot will come and place himself under your armpit, like you two were lovers or some shit.
What the fuck is that about?
Dude, do you mind?!? I was once doing the tourist thing, looking at the gargoyles on a cathedral, when my sight dropped down to a guy across the street, just staring at me. I moved a step to the left. So did he. A step to the right, same thing. I was like, "I fucking give up", and chased the bastard away.
Their famous bullet train, known as the TGV, is also fine - as long as you like sleeping upright, even in First Class, where things can get comically horrible.
I don't have time right now for train stories, but those bastards can really test your patience when they think you've got no place to go - or won't set them straight - which I eventually became more than happy to do.
Why doesn't anyone seriously report or talk about these kinds of things? Why is this France/Great, America/Bad thing out there when, in truth, half of France would leave for the States in a second if they could, while most Americans would find France's lack of freedom, lack of opportunity, lack of the basics - and, yes, their lack of understanding - so stifling they'd want to nuke the joint? It makes no sense. Why the self-loathing when we have it all compared to them?
What is wrong with you people?
Why are you so intent on sticking up for a people who are known, world-wide, for turning their racist noses up to the world? A place where even they admit they're rude and condescending as a people? Would you want to be a Jew there? A Muslim? An African? A black American? You're fooling yourselves.
I met the most wonderful African family in the world as they'd been made to suffer, for five years, playing France's insane mind game of making the father wait to get a friggin' driver's license. The mother walked over 6 miles to work every day. They couldn't go back to their country, because of political persecution, and they had 3 very-cute and well-behaved mouths to feed. Can you imagine?
And I've seen french men, crying, because they couldn't get a piece of the Dot-Com Boom; sobbing about Silicon Valley like it was fucking Kansas and they were Dorothy wanting to get home.
Talk about dysfunctional, they would buy bottle after bottle of $100.00 champagne, and when I'd ask them why, they'd say, "Because it is the best!" And then, after a few glasses, they'd be bawling - no, practically screaming - "My life is so hard!" because, honestly, it is:
Practically everyone in America has heard about France's 35 hour work week. What they don't hear is that the bosses still expect the employees to give them 40+ hours worth of work!
Those silly bastards come home more tired than oil riggers.
And, between the long lunches and all the strikes, they're hardly getting anything done.
And the effects of their socialism? I've seen school teachers with up to 10 assistants - what they refer to as "functionaires" - doing nothing but make-work, or drawing with crayons. How about 9 guys standing around a pothole, with two working and the other 7 smoking for 8 hours? And even the functionaires hate what it's doing to them:
Ask a functionaire what he does for a living and he hangs his head, mumbling in embarrassment.
People, socialism kills the initiative to do anything - especially work. Nobody's fooling anyone here. Oh, except for the supposedly enlightened Americans, who'd rather encourage such nonsense than help the french get their society functioning again.
They have so-called "delicacies" (potatoes in milk) that are nothing more than leftover war rations. They eat beef - raw. The beer of the north - Meteor - is swill. And, seriously, frog legs ain't no big deal.
Actually, they're kinda creepy when you see them laying there on your plate.
I mean, they're frog's legs - and snails are fucking snails. Big Whoop.
Oh, and by the way, while the french act like there's such a big difference in wine, I've never seen anyone in France send a bottle back. My conclusion: The whole fucking wine thing is a scam, just like homeopathy.
One of the biggest things to do in the South of France is going to San Tropez, which is about as close to a run-down Beverly Hills, California as they can get.
The ultra rich keep gigantic yachts there, and the poor moon around the damn things from a distance, literally being looked down upon as the well-off sip champagne and laugh at people who can barely afford to eat while there.
Remember: In America, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are merely "Bill" and "Warren" or "Bill Gates" and "Warren Buffet". If they were french, they'd be demanding you call them "Mr." so-and-so and acting like their shit don't stink.
And what is up with the tiny fucking "bathing suit" called Speedos, y'all?
Watch a three hundred pound man bend over in one of those things and you'll wish you were struck blind.
And with the way that french men act, all fey and shit, even guys in good shape look stupid in them.
Show up in a regular men's bathing suit and they snicker.
Wear cut-offs and you risk being kicked out of a public pool. (I still can't decide if that was a race thing or not: they gave me some shit about the potential of the pant leg's strings clogging up the pool's filter - are you kidding me?)
If a Muslim family shows up, the entire population of the beach will give them an intense hate stare that's so powerful I wondered how they could stand it. I would've been out of there in a heartbeat, fearing for my life and those of my children.
But then, the french are pussies, so it was probably O.K.
Ever seen the french version of the movie "Jackass"? It's called "The Eleven Commandments Of Comedy" and the opening stunt features another bunch of "wacky" people, filling a suburban home with about a foot of water and dancing in it.
That's it. That's a "stunt".
Later, one guy eats about an eighth of an inch of what looks like a jalapeno pepper and acts like he is going to die.
How about a bunch of grown men, dancing to "My Sharona" in tutus? Hilarious.
I'll take Johnny Knoxville, shooting himself in the gut with a B-B gun, any day.
Really, when was the last time you heard of a hit song coming out of France? A good dance group, or even a new dance? America does that shit so easily it's second nature (I'll take the time to point out all that seems to have stopped since Obama got into office, but I digress,...) I had a book of Japanese fashion with me, once, and wherever it was seen, the French passed it around and declared it vulgar. This from a people who, typically, dress with all the style of chemical engineers.
And certain Americans are always waxing lyrical about "the leisurely pace of France", as well. What they're really telling you is the place is fucking s-l-o-o-o-o-w and boring. Coming from the United States (or Germany) into France is like violently hitting the brakes on your car at 100 miles per hour.
I'll never forget the dread I felt, crossing the border into France after a trip to Amsterdam. I'm not kidding you:
I had tears in my eyes. Good God, no, not again, I thought.
One day I was at the world's biggest party - with representatives from every nation on the planet - drinking good beer, sampling the best weed and hash money can buy, slapping each other on the back and high-fiving freedom! The next, I'm sitting with a boring family of big beaked Gauls, who had nothing better to discuss than the length of the table they were sitting around. Somebody, please:
Shoot. Me. Now.
And with that, I'll leave you with a post-Amsterdam story I just remembered:
My brother-in-law's going hunting for wild pig, but he's not taking me because he doesn't trust me with a gun. Instead, he's going to drop my ex and I off at one of the many viewing stands in the woods, but, first, this arrogant prick's got to give me this long, stupid lecture about how to behave:
"You must stay downwind, as the pigs can smell you for miles. And be very quiet - don't move! You will disturb the atmosphere and chase them away,..."
(Keep in mind: I'd been there 6 months and this asshole hadn't shot a boar yet.)
On the way, we stop by a house to pick up his hunting partner, a blonde prima donna who waltzes out wearing a full set of bare-legged lederhosen, with the short-shorts and a little feather-topped Robin Hood hat and everything. I couldn't stop laughing, which pissed him off to no end. (Hey: I said I couldn't help it.) He kept looking at me like "What the hell do you have on?" which only made it worse.
So we drive for miles and miles into the woods, with these two "experts" lecturing me the whole time.
In a totally condescending manner, they'd hold one finger in the air as each of them spoke, and if my eyes drifted away at any time - to catch a piece of scenery, say - they'd say, "Are you listening to me? This is very important. No time for play: You are in the woods!"
I coulda clocked them both.
When they finally dropped us off at the viewing station and drove away, it did seem like the wife and I were a million miles from civilization, and the quiet, alone, made us take the lecture more seriously.
We quickly scampered up the viewing station ladder, determined not to let any woodland creatures become aware we're there, and we stayed that way - practically frozen in place - for about a half-an-hour, until I'm like "Fuck this!" and I broke out a couple of beers from my backpack - along with my pipe and stash from Amsterdam - and started partying.
My ex is all, "You heard what they said. You shouldn't be doing that." like I was a kid, and I was like, "Fuck this. I'm not going to be sitting, all crouched down, up here. Who knows when those two yo-yos are going to be back. You wanna hit?"
Pretty soon the two of us are partying and laughing, and getting into some pretty good deep-and-meaningfuls (we almost started having sex) when, out of nowhere, an entire group of wild boars show up on a ridge. They were savage looking, and stared right at us, loudly sniffing the air, and then come charging down this hill:
It was fathers, mothers, and a whole gang of piglets - so big they could give a fuck about us.
The ex and I were blown away, because, all of a sudden, we were plunged into an episode of Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom! Better yet, we were a part of it, because the boars reacted just the opposite of the way my brother-in-law and Mr. Oktoberfest said:
As long as we continued talking and smoking, being ourselves, they were cool.
It was only if we stopped acting naturally that they became suspicious of what we were up to, so we just carried on and so did they, rolling in the dirt and digging up anything they could find to eat. We - the boars and the humans - both stayed like that for hours, until they were done and, then, they just wandered away into the brush, vanishing as fast as they had come.
After they left, the ex and I got really quiet, kinda sleepy (O.K. we were stoned) and just waited for her brother for another couple of hours. But when his car emerged from a clearing, we became excited-as-fuck to tell them about happened - but our enthusiasm was quickly shot down by the two great hunters who had been silently hunkered down in the damp brush, avoiding any breeze, for what seemed like forever. They're mouths hung open as we spoke - we had broken all the rules! - and then they got pissed at us.
Well, they were pissed at me anyway, because I didn't know (or care) anything about "nature" and had bested their (failed) tried-and true technique.
We rode home in silence, with the two up front turning to shoot me dirty looks from time-to-time. As we dropped off the friend, I stifled another laugh at his outfit, thinking this idiot wore that silly thing to do nothing more than make himself uncomfortable.
He and my brother-in-law had a little conference as they unloaded his gun from the trunk of the car, and the ex, listening, said, "He doesn't like you." "Whatever," I said, "They're just jealous. If they didn't keep a stick so far up their asses, the damn boars could be picked off by just walking up to 'em. That ain't my fault."
When the brother-in-law got back in the car, he shot me one last really ugly look and then started into the ex when she, sensing his anger, tried to make small talk. Something about us violating the sanctity of the woods, or hunting, or some other bullshit. He mentioned she married badly and was going to tell their mother, as I stared silently out the window, wishing I was home.
Yea, sure, to me, France is an absolutely wonderful place compared to America - compared to almost anywhere - as long as you're a bleeping retard.