Friday, May 19, 2006

You've got to be kidding me

No matter how long you live in place, no matter how well you get to know the customs and the people, there are still surprises. Some good and some whatever.

Friday evening after picking up Boy1 from school and running a few errands, I was ready to go home. My in-laws were arriving for the weekend, I needed to start dinner, pick up the family room, and return two phone calls. I was neither stressed nor in a hurry, just a mom with a few things to do.

I started to turned down the lane that leads to our garage and quickly backed up as I saw that there was a truck blocking the way. At the end of the lane is our neighbor's house. Their front courtyard and our garage door were blocked by two trucks. I should mention that our neighbors are renovating their house in a really big way. I'll also mention that they're really nice and we get along really well. We use the familiar tu form to address each other, have drinks and crab dip occasionally, and always stop to chat when we run into each other. Their project has caused a few minor inconveniences but nothing bothersome.

From the top of the lane, I could see the neighbors and two guys who have been working on the stones of the front facade talking in the courtyard. I waved to get their attention. They didn't see me. I yelled, "Salut!" to the neighbors. They didn't hear me. So, I whistled. I know how to whistle well. Fingers in the mouth very loud kind of whistle. Everyone turned. I made the universal can-I-park-in-my-garage gesture. NeighborB nodded. So I waited at the top of the lane until the stone guys packed it up and moved their trucks.

When I finally got the car parked, the boys out, snack and book bag material in arms, I went to close the garage door. I saw NeighborB and said, "Hey B, I bet you didn't know I could whistle like that." She said, "I loved it but stone guys were offended."

I offended stone guys. What? I offended stone guys? They were blocking my garage and I offended them by asking them if I could park my car in my garage? Again, what? Why? How? I was nice to B while asking my questions - it wasn't her fault but surely there was something more to the story.

It was the whistle.

Maybe it's a guy thing, maybe it's a French thing, maybe it's a French guy thing, but stone guys were offended because I, a WOMAN, whistled to get their attention.

Later, I drilled unsuspecting husband about the whistle. He said that woman don't whistle here. It's not ELEGANT. Which is apparently offensive, nearly criminal even. (Although he did have the good marriage saving sense to say that he didn't mind at all that I whistled.)

Let me just say it again. You've got to be kidding me.


zeb said...

Come on sensitive construction workers, that must be a French thing. Those same workers here would have been impressed with your whistle. Just further proof I can visit but never live there I am just not sensitive enough.

Lorraine said...

I can't whistle at all. Guess that makes me muy elegante.

Jaques Ulat said...

Whistling woman and crowing hens
are neither of use to God nor men

charlie said...

Whistling is a very good exercise for the lips, teeth, gums and it promotes increased lung capacity. It also eases stress when one is due to face a firing squad. It is to be recommended. But not for fish.

beth said...

You should ride around your town and whistle at every man you see - just for kicks.
I agree with Zeb, had you whistled at men in the US, you would have made their day. Also, I might mention that I am jealous because I have never been able to whistle.
And besides, in the first place, you very elegantly tried to get the attention of the stone men and apparently they were too "busy" to notice that a beautiful young lady was trying to get their attention as they were blocking her garage! So, as we say in the US - screw them (I don't think "screw" is profanity (sp), so I hope it's ok to use it on your blog)

Edy said...

I have always wanted to be able to whistle like that. When I have seen women do it, it does seem to carry a certain amount of power with it. It is like beating a guy at poker, or beating them off the blocks at an intersection stoplight. Keep whistling.

beth said...

Nicole - re the comment a few blogs ago re that you may not share the See's choc's - I mailed 3 pounds of chocolates - so God love ya if you can eat all that by your little self!

Grish said...

Lol, I love hearing about these cultural differences.

Just curious. I wonder if they give out boy/girl scout badges for whistling...

Nicole said...

Zeb - and apparently I'm not elegant enough.

Lorraine - You, on the other hand, are.

Jacques - Cause toujours.

Charlie - If I continue, I'll surely be put before the elegance tribunal, found guilty of not being, and have to face said firing squad.

Beth and Edy - I've been officially asked by the mayor to stop whistling. Elegance is one of the requirements for retaining my resident's card.

Beth - re chocolat, I got them today, so I've got 3 days head start. I'm chewing as we speak. Delicious! Thank you.

Grish - Since the whistle incident, I've asked around. Kids are not allowed to whistle at school (!!!) so I'm sure they're not doing it in the scouts, unless it's used for calling for help or birds or some other activity were elegance is not required.

zeb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nicole said...

Zeb - come on, they arrived this morning and I've only had like 5 pieces. And the box is really big so you'll get at least one piece. Hands off my turtles.

beth said...

Please please tell me that you are joking about the mayor asking you to quit whistling - if you are not joking then you must move back to the US now - in a city where students can protest and block traffic for hours, yet a woman cannot whistle is no place to live!

Nicole said...

I'm totally joking. I've met the mayor and he's really nice and I'm sure he wouldn't dream of having my resident's card revoked.

beth said...

That's what I thought and I'm so happy to hear that - sometimes sarcasim doesn't travel via internet so well!

hipastorzwife2B said...

Oh, this made me laugh!
Whistling women and cackling hens
Never come to any good ends
-my southern grandmother

Adrienne said...

You've got to be kidding right! Perplexing to say the least. In New York the construction workers whistle all the time..and would be flattered if they were lucky enough to get it back.
Viva la France!

Nicole said...

hipastorzwife2b - She may be southern by birth but she's French by expression.

Adrienne - Welcome! I was wondering when you'd pop in for a visit. Bisous.