Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

I cannot tell a lie

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One of my favorite things about living amongst people who haven’t had basically all the same experiences I’ve had is that they often think I’m lying when I’m not. This’ll happen when people ask me what I miss about living in the US, and I’ll start to tell them about the magic that is Target.

Explaining Target is a complicated proposition since there really isn’t a good equivalent over here. It’s like a department store, but not really. You can buy shelf stable food there, but not all the items you’d find in a traditional store. Everything is cheap (low price) but of pretty good quality.

When I mention that the key thing about Target is that you go there when you need to buy mass supplies of something, that’s when I really lose people. To the European consumer, having a ton of one thing isn’t an advantage. First, there isn’t enough room in most urban apartments to store such things and secondly, why would you buy a lot when you can just pick up items as you need them?

Here’s where we get into serious cultural differences and I don’t like to mess with those. Some things are so deeply ingrained that they can’t be argued in a rational manner, but the basic rule of thumb is that Americans a) like to have lots of stuff and b) always worry that they’ll run out. (I think both are concepts held over from the pioneer days, but I digress.)

Coming from across the Atlantic, I can only say that having 30-some rolls of toilet paper is better than having only 4. You’ll surely not run out if you buy so many and, thanks to the beauty that is the American consumer experience, I know that the more I buy, the cheaper each individual roll ends up being so, really, I’m saving money.

So, I think about Target at least once every couple weeks when, like a schmuck, I go buy a four-pack and sigh about how much cheaper the rolls could really be.


Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

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