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Friday, March 9, 2012

True or False?

1.  French men pee on the sidewalk. 

Well, I'm not sure about French men, but the Belgians in my neighborhood do.  From my kitchen  window, I can see two streets in front of me and an empty lot across the street.  Of course, only a few dudes  pee on the sidewalk (8 that I've seen) , but they seem to do it when I'm washing dishes or making coffee.  And they look so secretive and sneaky and this is what they must think:  "Oooh, here I am standing in the corner, with my back (more or less) toward the street and my hands at groin level but you'll never guess what I'm doing.  If you see me, you might just think that I'm really interested in that layer of brick or the branch of that tree. You can just ignore the puddle under my feet." 

2.  Europeans smoke a lot.

Another true.   Before entering or exiting any building, one must run the gauntlet of smokers and they all seem to think that the world is their ashtray.   All ages, both sexes, where there are "No Smoking" signs and just in front of the gym.

3.  Belgians are very kissy.

Yet another true.  Well, anyway, the French speakers are.  There is the classic Belgian kiss (3 "air kisses" on alternating cheeks), the informal kiss (just one) and the virtual kiss (puckering up and smacking in the general direction of the kissee).  Thursday, I saw two bus drivers, big burly bus driver-looking guys, go through the whole kiss-kiss-kiss ceremony when these drivers were changing shifts.  I think it's really friendly.  I'm a little uncomfortable, though,  in the gym locker room when the women who are so, so, very much so, more comfortable with nudity perform the kiss stuff when they're nude. 

4.  Europeans are more comfortable with nudity.

Another resounding true. (See number 3)  Mannekin Pis is one of Brussels' most famous monuments.  It's a little chubby boy peeing.  Water actually issues from the kid.  I know that certain groups in the US would put a diaper on the kid.  TV shows frequently show much spicier scenes that we'd see on the other side of the pond.  The advertisements and shop displays prominently feature the female body.  And, of course, the art museums are full of subjects in various stages of undress.  Those Renaissance guys were such rascals.

4.  Europeans love food and wine.

This one is absolutely true... and why shouldn't they?  The wine is great and not too expensive and the food is wonderful even at the less fancy places.  The bread, cheese, fish, fruits and vegetables are available in a huge variety and all very good.   I read that Belgians will not tolerate bad food.  I like that in a person (or a culture).

5.  Europeans don't like Americans.

Mixed results on this one.  Most people are absolutely wonderful.  They are interested in where we're from and some have favorite American Football teams.  Most people are very willing to speak English or to teach us their language.  Many have travelled to America or say they want to.  American movies and TV series are very popular as is American pop culture, especially among the young.  Our first doubts came when the receptionist at our hotel in Antwerp was concerned enough to ask us if we'd experienced any discrimination because we are American.  We hadn't even considered it until then.  "Really?", we thought, "we are very nice people.  Why wouldn't they like us?"   The answer is:  They don't like George Bush.  At all.  Enough said.

1 comment:

  1. Of course, many Americans don't like George Bush. At all. :)