24 April 2016

Questions I have for America


After six years in France, I’ve semi-willingly repatriated. The grueling repatriation process requires moving back in with my parents while I search for my first post-graduate job. Following a blissful domestic union with my dreamboat pacsé, my living situation is less than ideal.

What’s more, having spent my entire adult life in Europe, I struggle to understand things that were once natural. Now I’m constantly baffled by interactions with my compatriots. So I’ve compiled a list of questions for them.

1. Why is the American flag everywhere?
Homes, cars, freeways, supermarkets, churches, really? Are you worried you’ll forget what country you’re in?

2. Why doesn’t anyone say hello?
When you interrupt a stranger’s day with a question or a request, it seems like the least you can do is greet her properly, and maybe apologize for the annoyance. You’re so abrasive.

3. Why do you ask so many personal questions?
Stop asking people in airports where they’re from and where they’re going. It doesn’t concern you. Why is the cashier asking me what my weekend plans are? Why is my grandmother’s nurse telling me about her husband’s reaction to fatherhood?

4. Why do American men wear clothes that are two sizes too large?
Are they ashamed of their bodies? Are shirts only available in one size? Or are these men simply unaware of aesthetics? I swear, I’m tempted to go back to France for the eye candy.

5. Why do you pretend you need a gun for protection?
It’s pretty obvious you really want it because it makes you feel cool. They’re like the new cigarettes. In any case, I’m judging you.

6. Why don’t you include sales tax in prices?
You see one price in the store, and then you go to the checkout and it’s like 10% more. Your price tags are a lie.

7. What is up with tipping service workers?
Why don’t you just pay them living wages? They must feel like slaves, dependent upon the generosity and goodwill of their belligerent customers.

8. Why are you so boisterous and loud?
Is this some kind of competition for expression? Calm down, leave some things on the inside. It’s alright if you don’t externalize every feeling you have.

9. What do you mean, I have to pay for health insurance?
What the hell are my taxes for?

10. Why are tampons so expensive?
I could pay for two month’s worth of this shit with a single coin in France. It’s a health issue, for crying out loud. Do you hate women? I told the Frogs we had a strong feminist movement. Your pink tax has made me a liar.

And why can’t you be France? I want back my friends and my dreamboat and the ability to mix languages to my fancy. I want baguettes and uneven sidewalks. I want my tiny shared studio apartment with its unreliable water heater. I want to go home.

I complain a lot, à la française. And maybe I’ve become as much of a snob as you’d expect the French to be. But I can’t forgive you yet for not being France.