Le cul entre les deux chaises

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

Tenez votre droite


There are rules about living in a civilized society that France hasn’t yet mastered (like that whole noturinating-wherever-the-mood-strikes thing), but they do know how to use an escalator. Spaniards do not. Back when I thought I could still save them from themselves, I actually had heated discussions about the right way to behave on escalators, moving walkways and sidewalks (walk left, stand right) to no avail. Finally, in the classic Spanish way, I just gave up and decided to let them entropy themselves into oblivion. (I know entropy’s not a verb, but it should be!)

The pooping should be obvious, but it's not.

The pooping should be obvious, but it’s not.


Author: le cul en rows

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

10 thoughts on “Tenez votre droite

  1. I so agree with you on this. I am particularly appal at the urinating thing. I come across men pissing between cars so frequently and the smell in the metro and other places is just disgusting.

    As for escalators, I am not certain that they have totally mastered it. There are times when you do need to push your way through. I like French people in general but I am not certain they have totally mastered the “being civic thing”, especially in Paris.

    • I’m usually comparing French behavior to Spanish, so even peeing between two cars is an improvement. When I was living in a nice neighborhood in BCN, I once saw a mother pull her crying son’s pants down and hold him, ankles to ears, so that he could poop on the sidewalk. In the middle of the day. Human poop. Right in front of my house. The Spanish are truly animals.

      • Well, maybe the Spanish are worst but we did see human poop at the Gare de Lyon going into the RER to get home. It was pretty disgusting. I have also seen mothers getting their little boys to pee on the street which means that they learn very quickly that it is OK to pee on the street. Actually, I find Paris to be a very dirty city – people throw their rubbish on the sidewalk without a second thought and they pee everywhere. Luckily, the city spends millions cleaning it up but on my street it is a losing battle. As soon as the cleaning crew is gone, people start throwing things on the ground so it is dirty again in no time.

      • More and more things are revealing themselves to be cultural, and I sadly think that relieving oneself in public is one of them. It blows my mind that people do this openly and that they encourage their children to do so. The problem seems to be that if they don’t find it offensive, they’re not going to change so we foreigners need to avert our eyes (and noses).

  2. Very funny. I won’t even attempt to describe what Indoensians do. THey will ride elevators up ONE floor and walk past you if they see you are trying to haul a stroller into the elevator. Lately I just use the stroller on the escalator which I’m sure is illegal in many places… Ohh welll..

    • Hmmm, there seems to be something distinctly cultural going on here and I’m not sure what the source is. My problem, as usual, is that I am way too practical and the rest of the world likes to do things in the most difficult/annoying way possible.

  3. I don’t know about France, but in DC people will literally run you over if you make the mistake of breaking the system and standing on the left. When I was in Chile last year I had to quickly give up thinking the same system existed, and just wait behind people as they stood on both sides. Might be the same mentality as in Spain.

    • Huh, funny that you single out DC. I lived there for the five years prior to becoming an expat so maybe I’m generalizing too much based on that. Do you think it’s because everyone is walking around thinking that they have the fate of the world on their shoulders that they’re in such a hurry?

  4. Oh my goodness, I laughed out loud at the article about the Google Street View cameras catching the man peeing. What a 21st century problem, when you can’t pee on your own gate in rural France without winding up on the internet.

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