Doug Speaks: Wherever you go, there you are…

…and so are the assholes. It’s funny; prior to this trip, whenever I told someone I was going to Paris, I received one of two responses: “Oh, you’re going to looooove it,” or, “Watch out. The French are real assholes.” I studied my Rick Steves phrase book religiously (ie. every time I was on the toilet), because I was given to understand that if you make an effort to speak their language, the French were, in fact, kind and generous people. Unfortunately, all I managed to learn over three strenuous months of toilet study was how to order cheese at a fromagerie – “Bonjour, Monsieur. Je voudrais cent grammes fromage bleu, s’il vous plait.” I have yet to come across a fromagerie, but when I do, I will wow the living hell out of whomever is so lucky as to wait on me. “Mon Dieu! Did you hear that American order fromage! Maybe Americans aren’t such assholes after all! Sacre bleu!”

And so, I’ve been toddling my way across this beautiful city, calling lovely young lady cashiers “Monsieur,” and wishing them “Bon jour,” when any idiot could see that it is, in fact, “Bon soir.” I mumble when I’m uncomfortable – ask any of my friends – because I hear the stupid coming out of my mouth and am somehow powerless to stop it, and so my brain does an end run around my mouth, making me mumble; thus no one other than myself can hear the pearls of troglyditic inanity dribble from my lips. In French it’s even better. Reduced to a conversational stalemate after trying and failing to order a carafe of tap water (my lead card), I resort to pulling out my trump,”Parlez-vous anglais?” which comes out of my mouth “Blah-bleh bloo Blah-blah?” And those asshole French? They are so totally and marvelously kind. Patiently, they await my next linguistic gem. Generously, they throw me a lifeline, cuing me with just the right word I need to regain my confidence and right the conversational ship. They are a wonderful, understanding people, and I have yet, in all my childlike gleeps and glops, to come across an asshole here.

But I have experienced assholes here. Not on the street, or at the Tabac, or the cafe, or in line. The assholes I’ve encountered are ON line. Every night of this trip, my wife has been baring her feelings, her fears, her failures, and her most desperate hopes on the blog I’ve now taken over. While she could be relaxing and taking the vacation she truly deserves, she has been devotedly posting on this stupid blog. And yet, there seem to be a group of people who live on the web who exist for only one reason – to make other people feel like shit by responding with nasty comments to other peoples’ blogs. Let me be clear here – I am NOT talking about people who honestly disagree with what my wife has had to say about Eurpoe in general, and London and Paris in particular. I disagree with a lot of the things she’s posted myself. And I’ve told her so – loudly and often. I AM talking about those snarky, nit-picky, nit-witted, douchebags (Harvard comma for you grammar dicks) who feel it is your mission and your right to pick apart writing done in between mad dashes between tourist attractions. If you have such a void in your life that a typo or a missed comma sends you into fits of righteous indignation, well…I’m sorry. I’m sorry that a misuse of language offends you. But maybe you should take a lesson from the French: support instead of drag down, hold your tongue although it pains you, smile and say “Ahhh…un carafe l’eau du robinet! Oui, Monsieur, tap water coming right up,” instead of perpetuating the steroetype to the French (and the world) that Americans really are total assholes.



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