Tag Archive | Stereotype

Being French

reasons-to-like-france-graphElo, me naam eez CT, ande 2 monts agoe I beecame French. Well 50% French in the eyes of the law and sub-French in the eyes of every 100% French person, but that sort of ruins the announcement, don’t you think?

Finally, 17 years after being born on French soil to American parents, I was awarded a brilliant piece of paper stating that I now had french citizenship. The whole ceremony took place in a dingy office on the 2nd floor of a dusty creaking building that specializes in transforming peoples’ lives, and was officiated by a weary looking middle-aged woman who looked like she could really use a trip to, well, anywhere. After verifying that I wasn’t a llama posing as a human just to benefit from french health care, she offered me a three page list of first names and asked me to pick one. Despite my longtime fantasy of being named Gertrude Cunégonde, I decided to stick to CT after my father shot me a threatening look, which he only barely pulled off, since I could tell he was about to lose a hard fought battle to hysterical laughter. The lady glared at us, pursed her lips when I told her I was keeping my American citizenship, shook our hands and wished us good day, wrapping up the event in the pomp with which it had been conducted (yes young pineapples, that is sarcasm). And voilà, French I am.

As a French person, I have learned several things essential to surviving in the society of baguettes and berets, which I thought I should share with you here, as I am a kind and generous soul:

#1: Never, ever let on that you are any part American
Apart from the rare Frenchman who appreciates his neighbors from across the pond for having supplied his people with Star Wars and liberation from the Nazis, the French hold Americans to the very lowest of standards. We see the United States as perverting our culture of fine cuisine with such abominations as pre-made frosting (I mean seriously, who can’t make the effort of beating up half a ton of butter and confectioner sugar themselves) and yellow cheese (oh the woe of a people not able to enjoy a cheese made from real bacteria and mold). Not to mention the endless stream of loud and obnoxious tourists who get drunk everyday and end up keeping the whole neighborhood awake at 4am with a slurred version of the Star Spangled Banner that sounds more like a tyrannosaurus rex wailing because its arms aren’t long enough to reach the steak that’s on the top shelf of the refridgerator than any kind of musical ditty. So when in doubt, if the conversation at a wine-tasting soirée turns to the land of guns and bacon, just whole-heartedly agree that every American should be tossed into the Seine River immediately upon arrival, for fear of ending up there yourself.

#2: Act superior
If they hold Americans to the very lowest of standards, the French hold themselves to the very highest. As an ancient civilization with a proud history of invading and being invaded, it is necessary to maintain dominance on the rest of the word, a task which falls to every commoner as his or her civil duty. The code of conduct is as follows. When walking down the street, stride briskly and keep your face completely neutral. When spoken to assume a slightly annoyed look and adjust your voice so as to have a condescending echo (nothing obvious enough to allow for a formal rebuke of course). Finally, be sure to always having something French on you, such as a baguette or a book by a great French novelist (to be handheld in plain view). This will inspire awe from foreigners, who will return home and spread the stereotypes that allow for an international French reverence, and notify other Frenchman that you entertain the same noble quest as they, and thus deserve to be treated with respect.

#3: Be patriotic
This goes hand in hand with reason number 2, but is absolutely primordial: you must be willing to fight for your country, lie for your country, sow, reap and die for your country (I think I should change my career path to motivational poet. Thoughts? Actually, it’s probably better if you don’t say anything at all, I see you sneering from a million miles away). If you are caught doing something dishonorable, say you’re from England, those bastards have tried invading us enough times to deserve a little retribution. Of course if you’re being filmed by a television crew for having saved 15 people from a burning building, no matter if you look like raccoon whose wife is dragging him to marriage counseling sessions that cost way too much for the meager salary you make as a trashcan spotter, make sure to yell that you’re French. It’s very important to the social well-being of the country that we be recognized as underdog heroes. Keeps us modest and bashful.

Now I realize that I’ve been rather unkind to the French in this post, and before any of my fellow compatriots descend upon me in a flurry of rage and cigarette smoke, I’d like to share the words I wrote in my letter to the mayor: “J’espère amener honneur à vous et aux institutions de ce pays dont je suis si fière d’être devenue la citoyenne”, which translates roughly to “I promise to try and not disgrace myself any more than I already have… but dawg I’m French now, and there ain’t nobody who can touch me” (very roughly).

Liberté, égalité, fraternité to all my French homies out there. I’m going to stop writing now, before I get any more ghetto.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

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To Hair With It

{if you ignore the title everything will be peachy and I won’t have to kill you}

I glance in the mirror, shudder at my disheveled appearance and pick up my phone. The screen lights up and glares at me dauntingly, flashing the numbers 8:12 and the words “Run CT, run” over and over again. Cursing, I pick up my hairbrush and try to pass it through the mess of knotty curls that amasses on my head when I forget about the existence of a blow dryer. The hairbrush gets stuck and makes a dull cracking noise when I pull it out of my hair. 8:13. Well, I guess that today I’ll just look like a lion that hasn’t gone to the hairdresser’s in a billion years. My parents should be so proud.
On the upside, I’m not late for school; although as I slip into my seat at 8:29 my friend looks at me sympathetically and pulls a brush out of her bag as a silent offering, while across the classroom, another friend looks at me, touches her hair and frowns. And so my day begins.

In case you hadn’t noticed (you wonderfully perspicacious human being) from the hairy tale above (get it? I made a pun! Shakespeare would be so proud), my hair is a sore point for me. I inherited my mom’s light golden color and my dad’s crazy Einstein wave, because of course having straight blonde gorgeously perfect hair like my mother’s that allows for the perfect bitch-hairflip wouldn’t have been fair to other girls anywhere on this colorful planet we earthlings call home. In this spirit my hair alternates between straight with a stringy wave and slightly poodlelike, depending on the days. I get a lot of questions asking what I’ve done to my hair on any particular day, most of which can be answered by a simple “I brushed it” or “I didn’t brush it”. A notable example came in June of last year when I was studying in the library. A dude from my class came in, stared at my head and said “did you go to the hairdresser’s? Your hair looks so… orderly.” No genius, that’s the power of a hairbrush. I’m not offended, really I’m not.

Although my blonde tends to look like yellow snow in the summer and muddy golden retriever fur in the winter, I have always been proud of the color(s). Why, you ask, would I be proud of having a melanine deficiency which has prompted numerous degrading stereotypes? (oh do please ask, otherwise my ensuing reasons are completely without a point) Well for one, it’s true, blondes have more fun, since we have a certain liberty to do what we want, no matter how silly, because when in doubt people will always use the blondeness as an excuse to justify a choice. Secondly, our hair completely changes color when it gets wet: from yellow to brown and back again. How cool is that? Thirdly, when it’s hot out, your dark hair attracts and sucks in heat while ours says “no sweat, I got this” and repels the rays. Finally, let dark haired girls be forever jealous: most of us fine-haired blondes don’t have to shave our legs. That’s right ladies, none of that excruciating wax business (well, I imagine that it’s excruciating, truth is I haven’t had to go through it. yet. (don’t want to jinx myself))  for me. Chew on that, suckers. So go ahead, tease me all you’d like… in the long run, I’m the winner.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: I wrote this post back in November and completely forgot about it. I know I know, I’m blonde.

Being a Lady

I take a huge bite out of the greasy sandwich I’m eating, instantly hiding it under the table, pretending that I don’t have food in the no-food school library. The librarian shoots me a glare that would make a bloodsucking mountain goat recoil in fear, but at this point all I can think about is eating before my afternoon classes start, so I shoot him my sweetest smile, completely forgetting that my mouth is full of tomato and cheese. His eyes widen in horror as I quickly gather my books and dump the rest of my lunch in the trash. As I pass the front desk I stub my toe in the doorframe and utter a string of swear words as he chuckles and looks away so I don’t see him laughing at me. Yeah, as if. Nice try dude.

Being the perfect lady has never been a particular goal of mine, but as I progress through life and have people say things like “No spitting contests. They’re so unladylike.”, it does force me to think of what being a lady is all about. So, without further ado, here is The Mostly Confused Teenager’s guide to being a lady.

#1: Be Respectful of Others
Some would call this first rule “be kind”, however I tweaked it purposely because in my humble opinion life would be a complete drag if you couldn’t tease people just a little bit. I guess that you could just implement the rule that teasing and ribbing (are those the same things?) are fine up until the point where you’re causing pain through your words. Now now, I can already hear your cries of protest: “CT, laughing at someone is always wrong!” Well, yes; but my wise sixteen year old self knows that some relationships are based pretty much purely on insults and fake-loathing and that those friendships are worth everything in the world. So in a short, babble-free resume: teasing = OK, one-way insulting = well… guess. Bad (duh.)

#2: Make Your Own Choices
You all know the meek “we can do whatever you want” type. I’m not talking about normal polite people who can easily go with the flow, but rather people like my mother. I love my mom to bits and would without a doubt jump off a cliff to save her (although I’m not sure in which circumstances this would ever take place), but she annoys me to no end by having no particular opinion about most anything. Ladies, if you want to do something, as long as it doesn’t involve insulting nuns in their presence, go ahead! Being a lady means being a person, and being a person means standing up for yourself and for what you believe in.

#3: Respect Yourself
This suggestion ties in with the previous one. A lot of people would say that being a lady entails having perfect hair and makeup at all times, having the posture of a telephone poll and dressing like a 1950’s housewife. I think that that’s cow poop. The basics are hair that doesn’t have capybaras living in it, a face that doesn’t look like a grizzly bear gave it two black eyes and no bikinis (or equivalents) in business meetings. Other than that, do whatever the hell you want, within reason! Respect yourself and, generally, others will respect you.

In short (yeah, ironic I know), being a lady means being yourself. There are no 100,000 commandments to obey to the letter; there are only a few guidelines to follow. Swear, get sweaty, eat pizza with your hands and get it all over your face… And most of all, have fun. Otherwise, what’s the point of being anything at all?

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager

PS: On the 3rd of August 2014, TMCT turned one. Happy Birthday to the best little blog this girl could wish to run!

The Magic of an Accent

When I was singing Tubthumping/I Get Knocked down (weird name, weird lyrics but horribly catchy) earlier today I noticed that I was adapting my voice so that I sang with a British accent. Now I think it’s important to understand that I have a stereotypical American accent, without any twists. I’m not sure what part of the United States it comes from, although I’m guessing that it’s a mix of New York, Boston and San Francisco, transmitted to me via my obliging parents.

Yet even being an American teenager living in Paris I still find a foreign accent perfectly thrilling to listen to. It sounds exotic and exciting and because of the whole “the grass is greener on the other side” thing, I always tend to think that foreigners are, in general, better people than the ones I find here.

Here are a couple of the accents that I, in a rather clichéd fashion, adore the most.

#1 : French

I’m putting French first more in loyalty to my country than anything else, but it still means that I’ll be able to fire a quick retort at any snarky politician who accuses expats of not being patriotic enough. Not that that will ever happen per say, but you can never be too sure. French is known as the language of love, and for a visitor, a visibly distraught French citizen struggling to make you understand that the rind on a Saint Nectaire cheese can be eaten safely is extraordinarily sexy.

#2 : British

My friends and I have this ‘game’ where we walk around for a couple hours speaking only with British accents, holding our pinky fingers up and holding our heads so high that they are in danger of being permanently stuck that way; the position is so uncomfortable. And yet melting down the entire population of the UK into one accent and attitude is seriously fun, though I can’t figure out why for the life of me. Then there’s the guys. There is nothing hotter than a boy speaking with a sophisticated sounding British voice. Once again, why? Once again, no idea. All I know is that I have this preconceived idea that any British boy will be willing to sit and listen patiently to my whining while offering me tea and crumpets as opposed to an American boy who would probably (and rightly) tell me to f*ck the hell off. So British boy, come to CT. Ugh, that sounded weird.

#3 : Canadian

This one I’m pretty certain came more from How I Met Your Mother than anywhere else, so in reality I’m not sure how life-like it is, so to all my Canadian readers, I am sincerely sourry if I am putting forth a false portrayal of your wonderful accent. The Canadian accent is awesome because you can hear it in both languages: English and French. I have a friend who speaks (French) with a Canadian accent and in that Canadian way, not exactly wording things the way that we would or saying things that make sense to us. Nonetheless, whether it’s in French or in English, the Canadian accent is delightful because it’s familiar and yet very different at the same time.

So now that I have successfully degraded three accents, I will go to bed and read aboot a lady who kills her psychoanalyst for the sole reason that he annoys her. Aaaaah, summer reading in high school…

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.