Man Without Qualities

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Ze Fraunch

An item by Jim Bennet posted in InstaPundit concerning whether the French are "surrender monkeys" has drawn a reply from a Frenchman living in the US, also posted on InstaPundit and reading in part:

"What makes you think I don't enjoy French bashing?”

That response called to mind an answer I received from another Franco-American expat to my observation that the many French people living in the United States were all but invisible. I had mused that it is, for example, impossible to imagine the French equivalent of the British scene in Santa Monica, where one may occupy an entire night "pub crawling" from one more-or-less authentic British-patroned establishment to another (I call upon Angeleno Mickey Kaus to vouch for this astonishing factoid, as Nancy Mehta once called upon Hecate for romantic guidance).

My French friend patiently explained to me: "Child of ignorance, it is often said that when three overseas English find themselves in a room, they form a club, but when three overseas French find themselves in a room, they have an argument."

He was right. He almost always was. I consider his characterization one of the many engaging traits of French expats.


I am told that the actual number of hard-core British-patroned Santa Monica pubs may just be two. It seemed like more than that at the time, but maybe after enough libations at the first two the rest just seemed authentically English, and to some extent our group (a tad heavy with garrulous Australians) did form something of a movable feast which might have enhanced the atmosphere. One's memory of the later reaches of a good pub crawl is of necessity a bit on the hazy side. In any event, the experience was enough to prompt my later comments to my French friend.

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