Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


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Invisible Tattoo Relief

It’s nuts that I feel relief that I never got that invisible tattoo. If I had, over here in Europe it would have become a conversation starter which is the exact opposite thing I would want.

Buttes-ChaumontI thought of this on a recent not-good day that I was trying to salvage by taking a book to the park to read for a while. I was very engrossed in the book when a guy came up beside me and asked very politely if I was Laura. Being the idiot that I am, I took him at his word, assuming that he was meeting someone named Laura. When I told him that I wasn’t Laura, he said, “That’s okay. What’s your name?”

I gave him my best you’ve-got-to-be-shitting-me look, but since I was wearing sunglasses, a lot of the subtleties were lost. “I’m not Laura and I’m not interested,” I said, in what I thought was a terse tone. “Yeah, that’s okay, but I want to know your name,” he insisted.

This is apparently a common French pick-up method, and I must say that I am against it. Many expat females of my acquaintance met their significant others when the guy persistently talked to them while the girls sat at a cafe with a book. It’s possible that men here think they are too charming to resist and don’t understand that in some foreign cultures, “no means no” but that with me, no definitely, always means “I will never want to talk to you ever.”

If anyone has a suggestion on how to definitely repel people, please let me know since I really, really, really don’t like strangers and I’d rather drive 100% of people away than have to deal with one unwanted come on (and they are all unwanted).

Learn two things

Invisible tattoos are actually things that exist (though they’re really just scar tissue). I first heard about them on ELEMENTARY, the recent modern US TV version of the Sherlock Holmes stories. (This is where I mention that despite not being a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, I’ve read all the original stories and know that “Elementary, my dear Watson” is a phrase invented for the movies.)

The above story took place in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont which I call “Charming Butts Park” because that amuses me. The English wiki page says the name came from what the area was called before Haussmann decided to make it a park, a “chauve-mont” [bare hill], but the French wiki is mum on the origin of the name. I’ll dig around some boxes and see if any of my books can shed light on the tale either way. (I trust books more than internets.)

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Links Day

On this day, God said, “Let there be links!” and there was much rejoicing.

→ The most miserable US states, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. I admit that I’m disappointed that the state I grew up in is not number 1. Makes me think they didn’t collect enough data ’cause that place is the worst.

Links!

Links!

→ What would the world be like if ads were replaced by art? Pretty great, I’d say after looking over Etienne Lavie’s “OMG who stole my ads ?” project.  [h/t]

→ Apparently, everyone else in the world is washing their hands wrong. If I were still as germphobic as I was when I lived in the US, this would seriously disgust me. As things stand now, I’m just disappointed in you.

→ People have always (weirdly) been drawn to me, and Mike White (actor / director / screenwriter / AMAZING RACE contestant) may know why. He says he wants people to see him and think,

“Oh, he seems like he’s having a good time. Maybe he has the secret to something that I haven’t figured out.” 

(I’m totally not telling you the secret.)

→ National flags made out of each country’s typical foods. Warning: this will make you hungry. 

→ Jenny Lawson, blogger extraordinaire and author, is someone you should be reading. She’s funnier and more foul-mouthed than I am though we feel the same way about the Important Things In Life, like The Princess Bride.

“I used to think that it was a small sin to waste time rereading silly books you’ve already read. . . but then I grew up and realized that those things were the only things that mattered. . . I’ve decided to give up on caring about wasting time and, in doing that, I’ve suddenly saved so much time I would have spent hating myself for reading The Princess Bride for the 89th time.”

Amen, sister. 

→ British actors with fantastic voices reading aloud. They make even the poetry palatable. 

desmoinespolice→ Buildings that used to be Pizza Huts were featured on the great 99% Invisible podcast. I ate so many free pepperoni personal pan pizzas in buildings just like the one pic’d at right as RIF / Book It! rewards. I wish I could still get free stuff just for doing things I like. 

→ I don’t have tattoos because I think they’re a bad idea. My friends who have them all regret the decision to varying degrees, the most mild being, “I don’t really mind this one too much.” A column in the NYT Magazine nailed my issue with scarring yourself with colors:

“Getting a tattoo is a way for your past self to exert power over your present self.” 

Your past self is always an idiot compared to your now-self. Knowing this when you’re younger helps prevent mistakes in the future. This is the reason I’m not on Facebook.

Next Week

In honor of the Academy Awards (which are this Sunday), I’ll be doing all movie-related posts next week. I can’t keep track of basic holidays (or even my birthday) but I mark the Oscars and the BAFTAs in my calendar because those are important (to me). Priorities, people. We’ve all got them.


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My invisible tattoo

“You should get that tattooed on your forehead,” my BFF said.

What she was suggesting I get inked on my person was “Fuck. Off.” since, by her estimation, I was saying that a lot.

Some 15 years later, I still remember the particular morning I was telling her about when she made that offhand comment. It had been an incredibly hot and sunny summer morning in Boston, just before 10. I was walking to work and was suffering from what a friend called Infantile Head*. I’d run out of cigarettes during the night, so I stopped by the convenience store that was on my way and they were out of my brand. This increased my bad-temper tenfold. Some guy approached me as I was leaving the store and started to say something to me and I just yelled, “Fuck! Off!” and stormed across the T tracks to the video store where I worked.

Strangers approaching me for reasons other than directions totally puts me off. My basic feelings about dealing with other people are

  1. I’m not interested in meeting you unless I already know you**.
  2. If I wanted to be talking to you, I would be.

I’m kinda like Audrey Hepburn in CHARADE (although totally unstylish). (How she pulls off sunglasses over her scarf and hat I’ll never know.)

Sometime after college, I stopped actually saying “Fuck. Off” out loud when guys approached me, deciding to go with a simple “No.” This went over even less well than my original approach but was decidedly less aggressive.

Guy: Hi.

Me: No.

Guy: I just said “hi.”

Me: No.

Guy: What’s your problem?

Me: No.

[repeat ad nauseam until he goes away]

After doing this for a few years, I decided to use a Leave Me Alone face all the time when I wasn’t with friends. Basically, this is a neutral expression that doesn’t invite any advance. One must practice to get it right as it involves relaxed face muscles and distant eyes to send subtle body language cues that the wearer does not have time for you.

Most of the time, this works. Sometimes, people react poorly, thinking that I’m being a bitch or intentionally ignoring them or think I’m too good for them. What people don’t realize is that none of these things are true. I just genuinely have no interest in strangers and want them all to leave me alone. Again, if I’m not already talking to you, I can assure you that I don’t want to be.

Further thoughts

→ Despite having written most of this post in July 2012, Elizabeth’s comment that she has a City Face she wears so that people don’t bother her finally pushed this story up the queue.

→ “Queue” is the only word (in English, I think) that, if you remove all but one of its letters, is pronounced the same as the whole word. Thank you to the French language for making this possible (and really annoying).

→ I’ve gotten a lot of angry responses to my LMA face, but no one has ever found it funny, unlike this video which details the plight of women who suffer silently from Bitchy Resting Face.

→ The second season of Jerry Seinfeld‘s webseries is much better than the first. Sarah Silverman, a comedian whose brash style is usually too much for me, has a funny bit in a recent episode where she notices a teen girl’s unpleasant expression and says, “I’m going to change your life forever. That’s your default face? Put a smile on there.” It’s good advice, especially if your resting face is unpleasant.

Bringing this post full circle, Dame Helen Mirren, one of the more imposing ladies currently in existence, thinks that all girls should learn to say “fuck off” early and say it frequently. All hail the Queen!

* Infantile Head — like a baby’s head i.e. when you feel that any jostling, loud noise or bright light could cause permanent brain damage.

** Yes, I realize that this is impossible. THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT.


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The Grey (2011)

Caught up with The Grey recently, which is the movie where Liam Neeson kicks some wolves’ asses. It was a pretty big hit when it came out so I was surprised by how little I liked it. The marketing led me to believe that it was like Liam Neeson’s previous ass-kicking title, Taken, which featured significantly more butt whooping.

If any of the movie had been fun, I would have forgiven its language failure, but given nothing else interesting to latch onto, I’ve got to call it out on its bad Spanish.

At one point, Liam’s position as number one bad ass among the survivors of a plane crash in Alaska is challenged by a fellow passenger. “Nomass,” he says, rhyming with a Colorado ski resort. I didn’t really understand how this comment could make the other guy back down until a later scene pans across the sleeping group.

The guy in question had “no mas” tattooed on his neck. This is odd because apparently he was Hispanic (which wasn’t made clear earlier in the film) as well as illiterate since the only way to spell this phrase meaning “no more” is as no más, with an accent. Also, it’s not even remotely pronounced like Snowmass.

LEARN SOMETHING

In Spanish, “illiterate” is analfabeto, meaning “without alphabet” which is kind of lovely except it always makes me think of Dr. Tobias Fünke’s profession.