What They Say vs What They Mean

Sorry to see all the long faces out there.
And I’m not talking about all the Celine Dion billboards around town promoting her upcoming concert.

Which I am sorry to have to see.
(The billboards, I mean…not the concert.)

Anyhow, to cheer you up about me not coming to your town, or to prepare you if I am, here’s a post from my archives that gave me a good chuckle when I re-read it last weekend. I was at a friend’s house who made killer carnitas and guacamole, along with a copious blenderload of mind-bending margaritas. She’d printed this out and taped it to her fridge when I posted it a while back when I had pondered some of the curious and profound cultural peculiarities around here, which occasionally prompts the necessitude for hi-test margaritas, when all the red wine just isn’t quite enough…

What They Say vs What They Mean

When they say,“Non”, they mean, “Convince me.”

When they say,“We do not take returns”, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say,“It’s not broken“, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say, “You need a prescription for that”, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say,“The restaurant is completely full”, they mean,“Please come up with a better story.”

When they say,“The restaurant is completely full”, they mean,“We already have enough Americans in here.”

When they say,“Do you mind if I smoke?”, they mean,
“If you don’t say ‘yes’, we’re going to pout and scowl at you while you’re trying to enjoy your dinner.”

When they say,“It does not exist”, they mean, “It does exists…just not for you.”

When they walk right into you on the street and say nothing, they mean,“I’m Parisian.”

When they say,“I don’t have change”, they mean,“I want a tip.”

When they say,“Would you like directions?” they mean, “I look forward to telling you what to do for the next five minutes.”

When they say, “I’d like the practice my English”, they mean,“For the next 20 minutes, you’ll feel like a complete idiot while I speak perfect English and demonstrate a far better understanding of language skills and world affairs than you’ll ever be able to.”

When they say,“They’re up on the seventh floor”, they mean,
“They’re right around the corner from where you’re standing.”

When they say,“We don’t have any more”, they mean,“We have lots more. But they’re in the back.”

When they say,“It’s not my fault”, they mean,“It is my fault…but I’m not taking the blame.”

When they say, “That is not possible”, they mean,“Loser.”

When they say, “I am a Socialist”, they mean,“I’m not responsible for picking up my dog’s poop.”

When they say, “You package hasn’t arrived”, they mean, “I’m just about to go on break. Come back and wait in line for 30 minutes again tomorrow.”

When they say, “The fat’s the best part!” , they mean, “I’m under 40.”

When they say, “The cheeses in France are the best in the world”, they mean, “We are indeed a superior culture.”

When they say, “America is culturally-deprived”, they mean,“Please don’t show us Sharon Stone’s vagina again.”

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  • Those are great!! Was it written with France in mind? Because every one of those looks like it could apply to Italy as well! Bravo.

  • May 15, 2007 9:35am

    Mon pauvre David. Imagine turning the tables. I have a very good French friend here in the U.S. who keeps asking me “Why?” questions about Americans. Why do they act like they’re your friend but then they don’t show up for a dinner invitation, won’t help you out when you need something and give you a blank stare when you want to talk about philosophy, literature or politics. Aren’t they interested in important things? Why do the movies have to have those insipid happy endings? And why do they want to show you their house? And why do they leave all the doors open, especially the bathroom, yuck? And why do they have no shame about not knowing geography? And how can they eat (insert disgusting American food here such as fried mozzarella dipped in ranch dressing)? And why oh why does everyone have to act like their rude bratty kids are so wonderful?

    I’m playing devil’s advocate, but someone other than Bill Maher has to defend the French.

  • May 15, 2007 10:46am

    I’m hungry

  • May 15, 2007 10:58am

    Mary: Since I live in France, I’ve lost touch with my compatriots so I have no choice but to write about my observations here. Since 87.5% of my blog celebrates the fabulous things in Paris, I need to fill the other 12.5% with something else.

    Your friend sounds like they need a blog*. I’d read it since I’d like some answers to those questions about Americans too!

    (And who the heck leaves the bathroom door open? I don’t blame them for being disgusted: I don’t like people watching me go in there either.)

    Sara: Don’t tell me they show Sharon Stone movies in Italy too? Pity those poor Italians. I hope they don’t have Celine Dion either.

    Kevin: Since you left Paris, there isn’t much ‘sex’ left in the city. Although since I didn’t follow you to the Absinthe store, I can’t verify that for a fact.

    *If anyone can give me a reasonable explanation to how or why a bank here doesn’t have any change, they can have an entire entry on my blog to post about whatever they want.

  • May 15, 2007 11:16am

    David, my friend thinks that airing your life on the internet is one more instance of strange American behavior that is infecting even her native country. Oh, and the bathroom door thing, it’s when no one is in there. She thinks the door is supposed to be closed at all times. I tell her it’s because of the offensive odors that come from the faulty plumbing in France and we don’t have that problem here.

  • Alisa
    May 15, 2007 11:52am

    love you!!!!!

  • May 15, 2007 2:32pm

    Alisa…I love you…and your little carnitas too!

  • Linda H
    May 15, 2007 7:19pm

    Another question the French ask Americans: “Why do Americans put ice in every drink?” Maybe because we can.
    Another one: “How can it be that America is such a rich country? Americans are so stupid.” I dunno.

  • Melissa Guidry
    May 16, 2007 9:39am

    My biggest regret is not that you are skipping over my town, but rather that I just found your blog a month ago and will be launching my third visit to France – Paris for two weeks – in a month AND YOU WON’T BE THERE ! Enjoy the West Coast … hopefully we’ll get the chance to tour chocolate someday ! Bon voyage :)

  • May 17, 2007 7:46pm

    How could I have missed this the first time round? What I really love is the way that the mouth and nose form a slight snarl and the head shudders when one says “Non”.