America The Quirky
Lately I’ve been focusing on the differences between France and America through the microscope of vocabulary. For example, there’s no word in French that exactly means messy, as in “eating with your fingers is messy.” There’s a word for mess, of course, but not for messiness as a natural state of affairs. And there’s no word for fun, which is not to say that the French don’t have fun, but they have to use the English word because there’s not one French word that exactly conveys the “fun for its own sake” idea of things. And there’s no word that exactly means quirky. Which is to say, I guess, that the French are much more formal, neat, and serious than we are. When we’re in France and we seem a bit peculiar, it’s because we’re Amercans. But here, it’s because we’re quirky.
Take this Pigmobile, for example. It’s SOMEPIG, which I think of as an only-in-America sort of vehicle. It dispenses pulled pork, and it looks like it means business, unlike those two lounging in front of it. When I asked them to make pig faces Shel readily, and successfully, complied, while Steve insisted on looking debonnaire. From these examples, not being a statistician, I conclude that 50% of Americans are willing to make silly faces on demand while 100% are happy to don silly glasses, which I’m pretty sure is a much higher percentage than one would find in France.
And while it’s always aggravating, whether here or in France, when people insist on blathering away to someone else while they’re standing right in front of you, I think of this sign as being extremely American. It’s utterly polite and utterly snarky at the same time, which is an art we probably learned from the French, but it has its own delicious American quirkyness. Come to think of it, I don’t think there’s a French word for snarky either.
And how about this? It’s a simple, straightforward, tongue in cheek commentary. Except you know what? There is no side door. Now how quirkily American is that?
By the way, I don’t really have a French Letters tattoo. Silly glasses, pig faces, lunch with hippies? Sure. Putting my heart into my blog? You bet. Wearing my URL on my sleeve, as it were? Way too quirky for me.