Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why are the French so… French?

I think I may have stumbled on to what makes the French so contrary when it comes to Americans. We would be hard pressed to go without the French. They spawned so much of our culture, our food, even our language. Where would we be without French fries; or French toast; or French dip? How could we survive without the Statue of Liberty; or all the French cooking by French chefs in all those French restaurants? We borrow from the French when we want to invite people to a party we ask them to R.S.V.P. We even serve pre-meal treats and call them hor d' oureves. There is much about the French that has permeated our culture so they can’t be all bad.

What occurred to me is why the French loathe Americans and it goes back to the days of the Revolutionary War. We would not have won that fight for independence against the British if it hadn’t been for the French who loaned us a large sum of money, and some of their Officers and naval vessels. Then the French had their own Revolution and got rid of the King and Queen. Our congress decided we didn’t have to repay the war loan since our contract was with the King and he was dead. That must have made some Frenchmen very angry and mistrusting. Then after the War of 1812 in which we failed to take Canada from the British, the Brits, and the French went to war and who did we support? That’s right, the British. Kind of like rubbing salt in the wound.

Fast forward to World War II when the Vichy French fought on the side of the Germans. When we trundled ashore at Monaco in North Africa, it was these French soldiers who fired at us and killed our troops before we could find a French General who ordered them to stop. Now either they were confused or still carrying a grudge. After WWII, the Allies put together the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and included the French. I think we thought it would hurt their feelings if we didn’t. The ungrateful French dropped out of NATO in the 60s and politely kicked the American soldiers out of France.

By now you may be thinking I don’t like the French, but you would be wrong. I do like the French. They introduced spice to the human sexual experience. There’s French kissing, and the French must have claimed the rights to the disposal of human waste. We call it a toilet, right? Or a latrine; a loo - not to be confused with the museum; there’s even something called a bidet (pronounced bo-day) and all I can say is “merci boco” for the indoor plumbing. Personal sanitation and hygiene are always a good thing.