I’m jerked awake from a fevered slumber as the hotel door bursts open, ” What the f**k is wrong with these people?! I can’t get a f*****g cup of coffee!”
Realizing what had just happened at the cafes next door while I was curled up in the warm blankets of my Paris hotel room makes me laugh out loud, and then I cough.
“Did you ask for your coffee in French sweetie? Or did you walk in and say, ‘Can I get a large coffee?‘”
“At the first place they didn’t even f*****g acknowledge me!”
“Did you ask in French?” I said, sitting up in bed and grinning at him.
“Honey, if someone came up to you at home and asked you for something in Mandarin, you’d be pissed they weren’t speaking one of our national languages.”
He carried on his rant, letting the truth of what I just said sink in knowing, but not admitting that I was right. “At the second place they just said, “Non” (imagine the worst french accent ever), “Cafe this big“. He holds up his fingers like he’s going to pinch a baby.
“You may want to try using your French while we’re here honey, or find a Starbucks.”
Less than half an hour later he discovered there was coffee at the hotel, and he lugged up three cups to our suite while I got ready to go out for the day.
My partner was appalled by not being able to order a drink without food, a mammoth sized coffee and the slow service at restaurants. His discomfort was my entertainment. You see, I love the complexities of French service, social interaction and just being in such an amazing city.
To watch someone rage against their own ways while being hosted by ‘others’ was rather entertaining. While he was stewing about how he was going to score his next ginormous caffeine fix ( this morning he had two pots of coffee ), I was marveling at the architecture, lounging in the warm comfort of the reading room at Shakespeare & Company, and people watching from the famous cafes on Boulevard Saint-Germain. I was in my glory.
My partner now fondly refers to anyone from France as a Euro-Weenie. We differ in our perspective regarding the French as we differ with regard to our politics.
The French, like any nation/culture have their own way of doing things. A way of eating, drinking and socializing that has earned them a place in history as gracious host to a generation of writers and artists who shaped the western cultural world. I can respect that.
Merci pour la petite cafe.