Thursday, May 11, 2006

L'américaine

Sometimes I get the feeling I am the cultural diversity of Laval.

I know one other American, and she doesn't really count because her mom is French and she moved here when she was 8, so unless she tells them, people don't even know she's half-American.

I know a few Brits, but they don't really count because they're Europeans. Granted, they're not the most European group of Europeans, but they certainly don't fall into the exotic foreigner category.

Today when picking up Boy1 from school for lunch, another mother stopped to chat (the one who's fusionelle with her husband - See My husband has a mistress post in April) and after a moment she introduced me to her visiting sister-in-law. Nicole, this is S. S, this is Nicole, mon amie américaine.

I am frequently introduced that way, as if it were essential to know that to know me. Which may be true. I do enjoy being a foreigner and I don't think you can completely separate who you are from where you are from. Unfortunately, not many French people have an accurate idea of what the US is really like (by no fault of their own), so I'm not sure that knowing I'm American gets them anywhere.

Whenever anything really big happens in the US, the local radio station interviews me for their news show. Presidential elections (he didn't win! he didn't really win!), 9/11, and a piece they did on unemployment and foreigners.

On my street amongst the neighbors, I am referred to as Nicole, notre américaine (our American), which still singles me out as the foreigner but makes me feel cherished. Must be all the cookies and caramel sauce I make and distribute.

14 comments:

charlie said...

"I know a few Brits, but they don't really count because they're Europeans. Granted, they're not the most European group of Europeans, but they certainly don't fall into the exotic foreigner category."

There are one or two truths here, and just one major misperception :o)

charlie

beth said...

I think it's quite a compliment to how well you speak French and how well your French accent is - afterall when you speak you must not give away that you are American, thus they would not have to introduce you as the American.

Nicole said...

Oh Charlie, I didn't think you would fall for such easy bait, but you did. I just couldn't resist.
Honestly, I could've written your comment for you and saved you the time...

Beth - Well now that's quite a compliment but doubtfully true.

charlie said...

And that's another truth about Brits! Well, about men generally, I suppose

Throw me back, please. I'm gasping here on the bank

:o)

charlie

beth said...

Nicole - I was home when you called - just in the shower! I tried to call you back but for some reason I could not get the call to go thru - I got a French automated answer and since I don't speak French??? Anyway, I'm so sorry I missed your call. Yes, we are always up early - at least no later than 7am.

Nicole said...

Charlie - I'm not sure I should let you off the hook so easily but...ok! Consider yourself thrown back. I'll try to be more subtle next time.

Beth- No sweat babe, I'll try again tomorrow. And we'll dbl check the number you've got, my answering machine is in English and in French so it wasn't me.

Eric said...

Nicole, I have truely been enjoying your writing and your wry wit.
Best to you and yours and say Hi or Bon Jour to O for moi.

christi said...

yup...then when i come visit, i'm "nicole's niece from america"

Grish said...

Said about you would be a compliment. Said about me would just be a warning to expect I don't use verbs correctly. :)

Tom said...

i still smile when recalling that when i lived briefly in north carolina, southerners that i befriended would introduce me as Tom, "he's a yankee".

but having grown up in germany as an american it took most of my life to stop feeling like a foreigner in both countries. but in the world at large i felt more at home.

Nicole said...

Eric - Thank you, that means a lot to me. O says hi back and when are you coming for a visit?

Christi - by the time you come over again no one will remember you anymore.

Grish - I'm doubtful.

Tom - I think about that sometimes, what it will be like for the boys to be a little bit foreign everywhere. All the people I've met who grew up somewhere else are interesting and a little décalé, like you.

tom said...

decale?

Nicole said...

Tom - there is no good translation for it in my dictionary. Shifted? A little off center , but not in a negative way?

tom said...

oh, but, strangly or not i understand now, only too well.