Before work emails, before unloading the groceries, before running out the door.Without even realizing, I’ve been trained in the etiquette of the French bonjour.And before living with someone dinner was more likely to be a bag of pretzels and a diet coke than a home-cooked meal.This was unacceptable to my husband after we moved in together.We soon realised that we were talking about two completely different situations: he was a man and I was a woman.To add to this fundamental discrepancy, when I lived in Paris I taught English in the private sector, which meant that I spent rather a lot of time travelling around in a short, straight skirt and tailored jacket. In Paris, men will sometimes even go as far as offering their seat in the metro to a young woman dressed in a conservative style.My husband (then-boyfriend) was shocked when I brought him to my office shortly after he moved to New York, and my co-workers (including my boss) knew everything about him.In France you don’t bring your significant other to work and you certainly don’t tell your manager the cute story behind the shower radio he bought for you.
He claimed that Parisians were extremely rude; I agreed that they were rude in shops and banks, but there were several points we differed on.
The French do the same thing with friends and family too, not just lovers.
Eating huddled in front of the TV is just not acceptable.
I had no girlhood obsession with Paris, no special feelings for French culture, no Eiffel Tower prints in my apartment.
I didn’t even eat cheese until I started dating the Frenchman who became my husband.