Search and You Will Find. Non?

8 Mar

Very often, my fellow Australian compatriots will ask me to explain to them what I actually mean when I mention those fundamental differences in culture between the French and ourselves. (And then I berate myself every time for even bringing it up in the first place.)

These differences in attitude (or beliefs, ways of life – whatever you want to call it) are explained in countless different ways in the pages of the travel section of your local bookstore. All of these interpretations are extremely interesting – often enlightening – but are rarely summed up into something easy enough to explain to someone over an impossibly delayed and pixellated Skype conversation.

Anyway, on with the story.

At dinner last night, I was having one of my regular humiliatingly poor conversations in French with my Frenchman’s friend, when we became stuck for the answer to a hotly debated question.

‘Nevermind’ I said, ‘as soon as I get home I’ll look up google and find the answer’.

The Frenchman’s friend gave me quite the accusing look. ‘Tu le trouveras?’

I didn’t understand. Shit. Had I said the wrong thing in French? I had already humiliated myself earlier in the night by asking this guy’s girlfriend if she had a vagina, instead of a cat. I couldn’t bear much more than that.

Oui” I said. “Je le trouverai. Avec google.

All the Frenchies looked at each other with a mild source of amusement and interest.

In fact I had said nothing wrong aside from the fact that it seemed bizarre for them that I would be so presumptuous to suggest that I would find something, without first thinking of actually searching for it.

Explaining that it is common to use the verb find, in the act of locating something, was met with daft expression. I think they thought I was either arrogant, or simple.

But here in lies a fundamental difference in attitude.

Perhaps we are presumptuous. But in Australia, if one is to embark on a search, we expect to find something. We in our young, crazy country may be presumptuous, naive, uncomplicated beings. But we are positive. And with exertion, we expect to get results.

The french by contrast will always remain sceptical of jumping the gun. Unless they have exactly what they were looking for in their hot little hand, they will never declare a war won. They are measured and, from where I’m sitting, pessimistic to a fault (though I think they call that a réaliste non)!?

An optimistic outlook isn’t something that has made its way into French popular culture just yet. I think it’s something that, if it ever will exist, will only be possible for les Français in the very distant future.

That is, if they are able to look far enough into the future to be able to find it.

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3 Responses to “Search and You Will Find. Non?”

  1. Jean-Marie August 23, 2010 at 4:02 am #

    Bonjour Poulette,

    Well, just a bit of trivia on your name: one of my ex-sales manager used to call all his female conquests (besides his wife…) Poulette, so he would not embarrass himself…

    On the Frenc/Aussie difference of attitude, I could not agree more with you.
    I am French and living in Sydney (is that called a mirror image???) and the MAIN reason why I love living in Oz is exactly that: Here everything is possible, there everything is a chore, apart maybe making love and having lunch (in this order, or preferably the other way around…)…
    French people certainly have an “art de vivre” but rarely a “joie de vivre”…
    You can read more of my prose at http://www.ourfrenchimpressions.com (formerly http://www.frenchimpressionsfromsydney.com)
    Have fun – I certainly have reading YOUR prose…

    • Poulette August 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

      Merci Jean Marie!
      Interesting trivia. I will bear that in mind in the future, though i do hope i don’t find myself directly linked!

  2. Jean-Marie August 26, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    Well, not with him anyway, as he recently passed away…but beware of the clones!

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