The seventh in the series of vignettes and pensées written by my husband, David Wolf, on an extended stay in Paris one early summer. This particular vignette takes place before the smoking ban went into effect in cafés in France. It reveals a fine insight into how proud the French are to be…French.
Français ou Americain?—Or, How to Insult a Frenchman
We stop at the Deux Magots for a late-afternoon drink—a coffee for Wini and a “Gini” for me. The waiters still look at me as if I am kidding when I order a Gini—a lemon-lime soft drink that I have never seen an adult drinking in a café anywhere in France. A fifty-something jowly Parisian in a chartreuse sport coat and yellow slacks sits down next to us and orders.
“Une Ricard, S’il vous plait,” he says.
“Oui, d’accord,” the waiter replies and is off.
The man lights up a cigarette and smokes it, staring out at the traffic on the Boulevard St. Germain. The waiter returns and as he places the Ricard, the little ice bucket, the water and some crackers on the table he tells the man, “I’m sorry but you cannot smoke here.” The man is clearly offended.
“Pourquoi vous me parlez en anglais?” the man asks, stubbing his cigarette out in the ashtray the waiter has handed him. Why are you speaking to me in English?
Obviously he does not mind the smoking restriction as much as he does being mistaken for an American.
More Paris Bits:
• Day 6: Thoughts on the Six-Week French Vacation
• Day 5: Writers on Vacation in Paris
• Day 4: The Eiffel Tower in the Millenium
• Day 3: All in a Day in Paris
• Day 2: The Art Teacher
• Day 1: Lunch on the Rue de la Roquette