Tuesday, May 27, 2008

US vs. France

During several days in Paris spanning this past holiday weekend, I couldn’t help but compare the United States to France. And like most comparisons, this quickly morphed into a competition. Witness:

Category One: Celine Dion

One of my first sights out of the airport was a billboard the size of a small European country featuring Ms. Dion. Apparently, my visit was timed to her nine-show appearance in Paris. (No, I did attend any of her performances.)

I know she’s not French, but—at least for now—her reign in Vegas in over and France is stuck with her.

Point: US

Category Two: Lunch

Americans are always in a hurry. Much of the time, we’re pissed off if we have to wait more than a minute between our appetizers and our main courses—and often we ask for the check before we’re even done stuffing our faces.

Lunchtime in Paris is different. Hours can go by, and time passes while watching passers-by and drinking a glass of wine. Or three.

Point: France

Category Three: Cars

With gas prices still rising, you’d think I’d bemoan our big American cars and the SUV culture that costs us billions of extra dollars—and makes parallel parking a real bitch.

There’s an argument there, yes. But it’s easily overwhelmed by how ridiculous all those French dudes looked cruising around in the SmartCars—putting themselves in danger of severe physical injury if they got into an accident with a small poodle:

Point: US

Category Four: Pastimes

In their free time, the French focus on romance. They seduce, they woo, and they canoodle on benches and in alleys everywhere.

In America, by contrast, we collectively obsess about time-wasters like American Idol.

Point: France

Two points each. We seem to be in a quandary; both countries have things going for them. So it comes down to a tiebreaker:


As much as I hated it growing up, the French language just flows. Sure, the French annoyingly fail to pronounce a few letters at the end of many words … but at least you know it’s coming because the language is well ordered and easy to follow once you know the rules.

English, by contrast, must be a real pain in the ass to learn as a non-native speaker. With borrowed words from dozens of languages and inconsistent rules, it’s tough. But so are the American people. And we don’t need all those silly accents that often get garbled in print.

Voilà! We have a winner.

Point and match: US


At May 27, 2008 6:43 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

On language, I would add that the US doesn't need a cabinet position, a la the Academie Francais, to enforce the "rules" of the freakin' language.

At May 27, 2008 7:16 PM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

You know that the Smart cars are actually one of the safest vehicles currently built, right? Of course, you still look like a fool in them....point, um, errrm, well, it's a damn bit better than a 2CV!!!!

At May 27, 2008 11:40 PM, Blogger Barbara(aka Layla) replied to my musings ...

I like the canoodlingl idea. I need to canoodle more.

At May 28, 2008 6:47 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

ZW: We don't need that, because we have better bloggers than the French. At least on apostrophes.

Mike: I didn't see enough room for an air bag to deploy between the people driving the cars and the car in front of them, much less between drivers and the windshields of their own cars!

Barbara: An underused word, to be sure.

At May 28, 2008 6:57 AM, Blogger DaBich replied to my musings ...

I'm with Kayla...canoodling should be a top priority!

Seems you enjoyed yourself.

At May 28, 2008 9:58 PM, Blogger Jessica replied to my musings ...

I wish America would adopt Europe's laid back dining rituals. *sigh*

At May 29, 2008 8:31 AM, Anonymous whatigotsofar replied to my musings ...

As long as Celine Dion is out of The Canada, point and match: THE CANADA!

At May 29, 2008 10:33 AM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

Yay, we won! I never doubted the outcome.

At May 29, 2008 11:59 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Dabich: Yes, a good time was had by all.

Jessica: It IS up to us... So let's just make the change!

WIGSF: Excellent point. But remember, she can slways come home to you.

Cube: Perhaps it was rigged, this being the greatest country on Earth.

At May 29, 2008 7:49 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

Have you seen those Triac cars?

Theyb are dorky as hell lookin'--but go 70 mph on pure electricity.

For 2-cents per mile, I will look like a dork.

Assuming you can afford the car (20k) it would eventually be cheaper than the BUS.

At May 31, 2008 8:04 PM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

I can't get the image of that car out of my mind. What is it? It looks like those bumber cars from an amusement park.

At June 01, 2008 6:02 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Were you in Paris for the French Open? Because if so I'd be REALLY jealous of you right now. Although that isn't the first major i'd go pick to see. They take great joy in the fact the US sucks on the red dirt.

At June 01, 2008 9:24 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

ZW: I have not seen those. They do sound dorky, indeed. But good for the wallet.

Angel: It's a SmartCar. It seems like a third of the cars in Paris were these very gas-efficient but frighteningly small.

Phats: Sadly, no. But I'd love to see Nadal work his magic there.

At June 03, 2008 12:00 PM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

Yeah, we could definitely use more canoodling here.

And I seriously am thankful that english is my native tongue...I sure would be screwed if it wasn't...because they say it's the hardest language to learn.

At June 03, 2008 4:26 PM, Blogger Jeff replied to my musings ...

Congrats to America! If David says it's better, than it sure as hell is true.

At June 04, 2008 1:50 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

PQ: I have enough trouble with the language as it is--I can't imagine trying to learn it without the benefit of a child's language-soaking mind.

Jeff: Wow. If I knew I had that much credibility, I'd have been running for president this year!

At June 04, 2008 5:46 PM, Blogger Jim replied to my musings ...

you could have just gone to Paris Texas and saved a bunch of money, and there is an Eiffel Tower there also.

At June 05, 2008 1:03 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Yeah i don't like Nadal, and I am hoping the Joker takes down in the semis. He is good on clay but not really any other surface.

At June 05, 2008 4:14 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Jim: Not being an Eiffel Tower fan, I'm not eager to see one again. But Texas would have been cheaper.

Phats: I'd love to see Djokovic/Monfils in the final. Chances are low, I'll admit.


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