Saturday, January 31, 2009
Lighten Up, Frenchies!
I don't know if it's the crushing feeling of living in a place defined by thousands of years of history, accompanied by the heavy burden of their own self-importance in the world, but whatever it is and thus far to me, the French are utterly humorless and lacking in the "joie de vivre" department.
(And this is coming from someone who can, with complete self honesty, safely say that none of you, when you think of me let the words "funny" or "light-hearted", pop to mind.)
As I've reminded a few people, there are no famous French comedians (that I know of) and there is good reason for that - they anatomically lack a funny bone. (Perhaps something genetically irreversible happened during the Dark Ages. Je ne sais pas.) Ironically, one of the French words for actor or actress is "comedienne". Funny, I don't find Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, or Belmondo to be comedic in the least.
When the French do make themselves or others chuckle (you'll never witness a full-on gut-grabbing, tear-jerking, nearly urinating, "Oh my god, I can't breathe", from-the-toes-laugh- fest coming from a French person), it's in that under-the-breath jab of sarcasm and/or cynical sort of way. And/or, it comes accompanied with a general complaint about something or somebody.
In this small village, I've taken on the utterly obnoxious role of forcing people to offer up a smile. I make it my personal daily goal of working over at least one person to momentarily break through their self imposed morosity, make eye contact with me, and SMILE. Usually when I do this, they've caught me doing cartwheels or handstands on the football field and very likely I'm dressed like a California-hippie clown in my striped tights showing from under my yoga pants, a pair of goofy red flowered rainboots, a thick bright green fleece, and a Peruvian alpaca hat with tassels. (All the while Ti is hiding her head in embarrassment, pretending she doesn't know me.)
Sometimes I achieve my goal, sometimes I don't. But one thing is for sure, they know I'm not like them.
I've craved light-hearted giddiness and just plain silly banter so much, I've taken to listening to at least 1-2 episodes of The Bugle on my iPod daily. I even had a mildly PG-rated dream about John Oliver (sorry Greg), who I don't find attractive in the least, but who had me laughing so hard whilst sleeping, I woke myself and was still giggling.
I don't feel like psycho-analyzing the reason they are the way they are, but very often I just want to run down the street and scream, "Lighten the fuck up! You have an extraordinary quality of life. Enjoy it. For crying out loud, you invented the phrase "joie de vivre", whose pronounciation gets massacred the world over but everyone loves to use it in the spirit it was intended. You have no reason to be so bloody serious, dour, or cynical all the time. In the words of Woody Guthrie, go ahead and "...dance a goofy dance...". It'll feel good and I'll be sure to laugh at you AND with you.
Posted by Amanda Dates at 1:24 AM