The making fun of and ridiculing continues for Charlotte at work today....and it made me think of this:
Before moving to France I read lots of books written by American/French teams who tried to "figure out" the French and then write a book about it. I loved these books and would devour them thinking to myself, I won't be one of those Americans.
I had a new appreciation for these books after having lived in France for awhile. (I like to re-read books a lot strangely enough). I noticed all the times the authors were right and all the times I thought they were completely exagerating.
Of all of the things that I read in those books, here is what I remember the most:
The French are like coconuts: hard on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. It's hard to get to know them and they will probably give off what Americans would perceive to be a gruff exterior - unfriendly- when you first meet them. But with time (and a lot of hitting your head against the wall), the French soften up and can ultimately become your friend for life. As Americans, we don't understand this and think that French people are just rude. We often don't take the time to get to know them having been so put off by our first encounters.
Americans are like peaches. We are soft and sweet on the outside but you may run into the hard pit on the inside. Basically, Americans are easy to get to know, we are friendly and open with new people. We may even be considered too friendly which leads people to believe that we want to be their good friend. However, we don't see it that way. To us, we were just "being nice." This is confusing to French people because they may unexpectedly encounter the pit later. The messages are incoherent to them. This is when we Americans regret having been so nice to start out with...
I have come to realize that Charlotte goes against her French grain...she acts like an American - like a peach. And the Frenchies in my office don't know what to make of her! How do we handle this nice person who smiles all day? They are utterly lost. I, like a good American, follow along, smile back and reciprocate her niceness (which I admit is a little over-the-top - even for me). But she doesn't deserve the verbal coconuts that they seem to be throwing at her all day...vraiment.