A Very Rude Thing - So Says Copain

After almost seven years together, Copain and I know each other pretty well. However, it does happen, as it did today, that we experience the cultural clash that is bound to happen when a Frenchie and an American decide to create a life together.

I was coming home from my Lai Thai massage, when I saw Copain fly by on a Velib and park it in front of our apartment.  I was sure that he hadn't seen me so I yelled out his last name.  He didn't turn around, so I did it again, this time louder.  Nothing. Finally, I yelled out his first name - Copain! And this time, he turned around and said, "What did you just call me?!".  He was clearly very pissed off.

My excitement to see him dissipated as he told me how rude I had just been to call him by his last name and how much he HATES to be called by his last name.

Wait - what?

When we finally got over being mad at each other - him for me calling him by his last name, and me for him being mad about something so stupid - we sat down to talk it out.

Copain tried to explain that in France, calling someone by their last name is a Very Rude Thing to do. Then I tried to explain to him that in America, it's definitely not a Very Rude Thing to do.  Even as I type this, I'm having a hard time comprehending that calling someone by their last name can be considered rude. In the states, when I was in college, it was almost like a fun nickname we gave to people. And still, today, I call my good friend over at My Riviera Wedding by her last name! She usually joins right in and calls me by my last name...

So, I need help from any Frenchie readers out there - is this really a Very Rude Thing in the land of wine and cheese?  Have I been a rude American for the past seven years without even knowing it?  Help!

1 comment:

  1. Ok, it's true that usually, we don't call people by their last names, unless we don't like them. Like at school the kid you hate, or at work the boss or colleague you don't like, you call them by their last names behind their backs to show you despise them. When I was little, the teachers called us by our last names when they were mad at us, or to show their superiority upon us. So, yes, in this case it's not very nice. But at the same time, sometimes boys call each other by their last names in a friendly way, in a kind of masculine way. I've seen girls do that too, when they want to be cool. Now, as an adult, as a joke, I sometimes call some of my firends by their last names, but it depends what friends, maybe more those who are a little bold.
    But I know you guys in America do that and it's not disrespectful at all, in Asia they do that as well. So my man and I often call each other by our last names as nicknames, but we change the accent, he says my name with a Russian accent, me with a very bad French accent.
    So you both are right in a way: that's the beauty of being a multicultural couple :)


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