Monday, November 3, 2008

While Eating Homemade French Chinese on a Rainy Saturday Night

The debate started while sipping pastis.

A simple question about the American election and that was all that was needed to spur my British Hubster and French-Me's very French husband to delve into those fabulous topics like the British miners strike during Thatcher's government, the merits (or lack there-of depending on who was talking) of the 35 hour work week, and the absolutely absurdity of the electoral college.

It's was a busy night.

It has taken me a little while to get used to the fact that once most of our French friends are really comfortable with us, they go ahead and tell us exactly what they think about everything English and/or American. At first, I used to get extremely defensive and worried that they really hated everything Anglo, but I've since realized that this in depth analysis of us and our people is really a good thing. A compliment in a way. A sign showing that the friendship is real because you could never speak so frankly to someone you didn't know so well.

Sure, dinner at French-Me's house can last upwards of 4 hours because of that, but the debate is good. (As long as we don't talk about rugby!) Over the first bottle of wine, things start unravelling at a frightening pace. For example, French-Me's husband turning to me and saying,

"But, admit it. The electoral college is nul."

Thank God, I paid attention in my political science classes at Marquette.

By the second bottle, the debate turned closer to home, to one of his and Hubster's favourite topics, Nicolas Sarkozy. Thank goodness it was a nice rosé so the boys mellowed ever so slightly. Bear in mind, neither French-Me or I am drinking during this debate. We're too busy handling the very important English parliamentary tradition of heckling the speakers.

By the time coffee was served, the debate was back to trying to understand the true nature of universal suffrage and which democracy, the English, French, or American, is the best example of this lofty ideal.

Your heading spinning yet?

Things took one more scary turn as economics finally reared it's ugly head. At this point, being the woman that failed remedial math, I decided it was a good moment to start getting the kids ready to head home. French-Me and I left the boys to hash out bail-outs over a fine digestif or two and started praying that they could solve the world's problems before 2am.

It dawned on me as we drove home that we've had these discussions with most of our French friends at one point or another. (We tend to save the religious debates for Miss & Mr Tennessee 1975 but that's a whole 'nother post.)

For some of them, we are the only non-French people they have ever known. It's as if, finally they see a chance to really ask, to learn, to find out what it is to be American. To be English. And that goes for us, with them, as well.

I love that.

Of course, I would have loved it more if I had brought up the importance of the chocolate and peanut butter lobby and it's impact on American politics, but I think I'll wait till next time for that one.


RHB said...

I think it's cool that you're flattered and not defensive. I haven't figured out who French-Me is though.

hubster dave said...

after sharing with Mr French Me half a bottle of pastis, a bottle of rosé, a bottle of red and several large glasses of eau de vie, my memories of the evening are rather vague ...

Dig said...

Ah, but Hubster, you defended both our democracies very, very well.

rhb: French-Me is Solen's mom.

diane said...

French -me and her spouse probably understand American politics better then most Americans. Can we get my favorite Brit to come over here for a speaking tour....