Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to date a Frenchman*

*if he's a dick and you're a doormat.

I first came across this article on thelocal.fr  linked by an acquaintance on Facebook a while ago, left a sarcastic comment and moved on. Then I stumbled across it again yesterday, after following a different link on Twitter. Once again, I made the mistake of reading it all the way through, and it made me mad enough that I was still thinking about its stupidity today.

Basically, the message is that the Frenchman is the "holy grail of international lovers" (actual quote), and you should do anything to please him and mould yourself into whatever Stereotypical Frenchman deems acceptable in a woman. God forbid you be yourself, have an opinion, reflect your own culture and background, or disagree with him.

Some of the top tips:

- Apparently, Frenchmen will text you all the bloody time. This includes sending kisses and plenty of emoticons. Okay, some allowances can be made for a romantic honeymoon period, but seriously guys and gals, is there anything more irritating than constant contentless texts reading "salut" (or "slt", which always makes me think they're starting off by calling me a slut), "ça va?" or, worst of all, the dreaded "coucou"? The man-catching advice doesn't deal with what to do if you want to shut down the stream of verbal branlage altogether (gosh, that wouldn't be very sweet and feminine of you), but it does offer the gem that you should definitely not try giving him a call, since "he might not take too kindly to it because you’re invading his 'guy space.'" I didn't know 'guy space' extended into the airwaves, but makes sense. After all, most guys I know also have very strict no-fly zones and maintain exclusive fishing areas which are universally recognised by International Man Law (or just "the law"). 

- If he says he loves you after a few weeks, don't freak out, just say it back! Chances are, he doesn't really mean it anyway, and if he does, meh, who are you to have feelings that differ from the almighty French man god? In the same vein, we're later told to "get used to being in a relationship the second he kisses you". Again, you have no agency in this relationship. The kiss of a Frenchman has all the magic relationship potency of some sort of gypsy curse.

- Don't let him take a photo of you because he'll probably make it into his screensaver by the second date. Firstly, this seems an awfully specific situation. Secondly, and not to draw any hysterical parallels, shouldn't the advice be "hey, creeper, don't be weird about photos of girls you barely know" instead of "woman: man with camera steal your soul. Be heap careful"?

- One of my favourites - no makeup. We've all noticed that many French women eschew heavy makeup, so (other than the obvious "I'll wear as much makeup as I bloody well please" reaction) my beef isn't so much the basic advice here. It's the icing on the cake: "French men like their women to have beautiful, flawless skin naturally. If you’re not blessed with dermatological perfection, you can either scream in frustration or rethink your skincare routine." Oh, well as long as we still have *options*. 

On an unrelated topic, I like my men to have [redacted, since my mum reads this]. If you're not blessed with [redacted] perfection, you can either scream in frustration or rethink your genetics. Up to you, lads!

- You're not allowed to get mad if he's late, or be unavailable if he texts you (of course texts, haven't you learnt he's incapable of calling) at short notice to go out. Not only that, but "Of course, this means you have to look fabulous all the time, just in case." Except obviously looking fabulous doesn't include wearing any of your whore paint. Save that sheer foundation for the street corner, amirite?

 - Pretend to be allergic to everything he eats, so he won't feed it to you. WTF? Leaving aside the logistical nightmare of keeping this one up - and my gut instinct tells me being an insanely fussy eater probably contravenes some other secret French relationship commandment - is it really that hard just to say "no, I don't want to eat off your fork"? God knows your resolve hasn't been worn down by refusing to capitulate over things like makeup, chronic lateness or whether you love him. In all fairness, you did already have to fight to the death to avoid him taking creepshots of you though.

 - The article rounds out by telling you that you have to be cool socialising with all his exes and you're not allowed any hang-ups in the bedroom. At this stage, I can't even get worked up about that - standard women's mag advice, really.

 So where can I sign up for one of these prize catches? And where did those of you in happy couples find all the good ones?

Friday, April 05, 2013

Workin' girl

Yay! The first (4-day) week of work is done! I am soooo tired. Lucky I came home to cat vomit on my bed to help relax me...

The work

So far, I've only been shown how to do one thing. Which I have done over and over and over again in the past 4 days. Hundreds of times. As you can imagine, this is not very exciting. On the other hand, I have been praised for working quickly and accurately, so yay for me. That bodes well for successful completion of the 2-week trial period. I hope next week they show me how to do more stuff, because it's probably not great to already be super bored after less than one whole week of work :( Honestly, not to be ultra-negative, but there have been many times this week where I've thought "I have a Master's degree in THIS?!?" It is literally: scan barcode, check the PDF looks ok, tick a couple of boxes, add a name and date, change a couple of drop-down menu options, scan next barcode...

I have my own barcode scanner and printer though! #everygirl'sdream

The colleagues

We have The Boss, let's call him Michel (I will probably forget these names later). He's quite good looking but is in a different office, so I don't see much of him. On the first day I had to sign a confidentiality agreement and he goes "oh, you just write your name? You don't have a real signature?" (with accompanying scribbly motion). Yes, fine, I have a child's signature, thanks for pointing that out. I think I got my first bank card at about 13, and after a while you're pretty much locked in to your signature, unless you change your name. Not only is it unsophisticated, it's also really *long* having to sign my full name. I get a cramp if I have to sign more than one document at a time! And it never fits in boxes on forms. But anyway, I read once that a legible signature is more fraud-proof than a scrawl, so suck on that, Mr. Grown-Up Signature. Other than hitting a signature sore spot, though, he seems very nice!

Moving on, in my office there are two women and a guy, all around about my age. Honestly though, I feel like I come from another planet than these women. They are both married with a toddler and building/renovating their first homes, and 80% of the conversation (and there is a LOT of talking going on) revolves around that. Especially the kids. If you want to hear the entire plot of a children's book recounted in great detail, or see a demo of a 2 year old's poo face, come work with me. It's pretty painful.

In between the insufferable kid-chatter, however, they are nice people - friendly, patient if I make French mistakes and interested in learning more about me and my culture, which is all good. I feel already like I've known them for more than a week, probably because of all the talking!

The office man, on the other hand, seems to see me as a kindred spirit. This manifests itself in rolled eyes when the other two are going on about stuff and questions as to how I'm putting up with the girls when they are not in the room. It's nice that he thinks we're on the same wavelength (and I do probably have more in common with him, from the bits of conversation we've had thus far), but I am a bit nervous of being lured into bitching about the other two every time they turn their backs! (Please note this, everyone who thinks men never gossip or bitch.) Besides, they are actually nice people, even if I find anecdotes about children a colossal bore. He's also a bit of a mumbler (pot calling the kettle black there) which means I generally have to ask him to say everything twice. Sometimes three times.


As I said, I have been exhausted this week! I feel like I'm 50 years old, and/or have been doing manual labour all day, rather than a 30 year-old sitting in a chair. (I really do despair for what I'll be like when I'm old...) However, so far waking up in the morning hasn't been too difficult. Whether this is due to early, exhausted bedtimes or the Sleep Cycle app I bought (it monitors how heavily you're sleeping according to how much you're moving around and then it wakes you up up to 30 minutes before your alarm time, when you are in a light sleep phase) I don't know. Although I've been tired, I've run errands every day this week after work, whereas there have been plenty of times in the past year I've been unable to bring myself to do one thing in a day despite having all the time in the world. So that's good.

Hopefully next week I'll be less tired and I will be given more interesting things to do! I don't think anything will change on the King Biscuit Kid Chat Hour, so will just have to learn to live with that one! And now for some post-work wine :)