I had dinner with 3 French people yesterday, as well as one French-loving friend. It’s easy to start questioning your life choices when surrounded by cultured, sophisticated specimens–or even just your luck to have been born American.
After all, one of the guys was here on a free trip, which was only one of many he had taken and will be taking in the next month because a hotel chain was paying him to do so for some reason. The other guy was working here, so he had somehow found a way to be necessary for that company. The girl I believe was just here to visit, but it wasn’t her first trip here, and the way she reacted when she heard I’ve never been to Europe made it seem like I was an ignorant child. All 3 of them spoke English perfectly and obviously also French. As they described their lives and their escapades, I began to wonder how boring and tame my own life must have seemed to them.
What could I possibly tell them that would be as interesting as their stories about the various school systems in France and London? What could I possibly say that would be as indulgent as their tales of fancy bars in Paris? What could I possibly do that would be as elegant as the way they moved about naturally?
Then, the food came. All 3 of them had ordered burgers. All 3 of them reached for their knives and forks and proceeded to delicately cut slices of the meat and bun. There’s no way you get the proper amount of enjoyment by carefully using utensils, so at first I thought they were just trying to make the patty more manageable instead of cutting it in half, but no. They continued to eat the entire burger that way, forkful by forkful.
And that’s when I realized I’m proud to be an American. Sure, the French may be more well-mannered and polite, but they’ll never know the singular joy of grasping a burger in both hands and chomping off a gigantic bite.