Author's Note: I'd published this Thursday night but Blogger had problems and removed posts published after a certain time of day Wednesday. Along with some comments, too! Sorry, Jennet and Deirdre. I did publish your comments on Abba-Mania but they disappeared. Also Crystal who had already commented on this post before it got wiped. Here's what I could piece back together from my post, as some of it was saved in draft form.
The French are known for being frank. Well, actually, no offense, but they're known for being rude. I'm starting to wonder if it's really just that they are brutally honest. And they think it's probably for your own good. Constructive criticism gone a bit too far. I'm sure I've told you already that Google in the Silicon Valley likes hiring Frenchies because they're not afraid to give their opinion and shake up things a bit. While this may be great in a creative environment like Google, it's not always welcome in my living room.
Picture it: last week after I'd prepared turkey burritos and plain cous cous that got way too sticky (I've got starchy food issues, sometimes. Maybe I should see a specialist.). While I was munching down on my tex-mex, saying, in Crystal style, love me some mild spicy food, I casually asked Remi what he thought of the meal. Not exceptional, he answered. I'm sure he could tell by the frown/raised eyebrow/evil stare down that his answer wasn't going down well. So he explained that he's not too fond of Mexican food.
Fair enough. But where I come from (smiley, friendly US of A), we would have said things differently. Like, well, it's not bad, but a bit spicy for me. Call it sugar-coating, if you like. But I, for one, like sugar. It helps the medicine go down (sing it with me, Mary Poppins fans: medicine go dooooown).
And it got me to thinking that perhaps his response was perfectly fine for a French marriage where each is used to this kind of honest exchange. Where talking about and criticizing food is a national passion (French food recently got UNESCO World Heritage Status). But in a mixed marriage like mine, it opens up worlds of misunderstandings and hurt feelings (on my side at least). I tried to tell him that, in a non-confrontational way, but it really bummed me out last week. I'm not trying to make this a husband-bashing post, (if I'd written it last week you could have felt the anger spittle on your side of the screen). But I'm wondering how many other cultural differences like this we'll keep discovering. And maybe others in mixed relationships like myself have some advice on how to deal with these things. We might discover world peace along the way. Who knows how many international conflicts could have been avoided if we'd just known that the smirk from the opponent was NOT an invitation to warfare.
Like Rodney King said back in the day, can't we all just get along?