Mystery- Comme les Français
I am in the midst of reading Debra Ollivier’s latest book What French Women Know (review forthcoming) and am, so far, enjoying it immensely. It is filled with so many thought-provoking topics and allows the reader to capture a glimpse into the psyche of the French woman. So many of Ollivier’s observations are so spot on with my experiences living in France and observing Madame Chic and Bohemienne that it is a particular delight for me to read.
The second chapter of the book is entitled Mystery. Ollivier purports that French women are less like their American counterparts when it comes to revealing things about themselves. They enjoy relishing in the unknown- allowing you to guess about their innermost secrets. Ollivier suggests that their air of mystery makes them more alluring- which is in stark contrast to our overly friendly American mannerisms- which can be endearing and make us lovable- but leave little to the imagination. I couldn’t agree more. I believe many of us Anglos suffer from TMI (too much information) syndrome.
I suffer from a moderate case of TMI syndrome. While I am a relatively private person, I do find myself telling my life story a little more often than I probably should (you know, in order to keep an air of mystery about me).
I recently got a mani/ pedi from a new esthetician at the spa I frequent and found myself telling her my life story- where I grew up, what I studied in school, what I am doing now, marital status, humorous complaints about married life, my book- you name it I said it. I do this a lot too. And I know I’m not the only one. I’ve had at least three strangers this week tell me their life stories (people are very friendly in Santa Monica).
Discussing this very subject on the phone with my cousin today (who I tell absolutely everything to, btw) she asked the very valid question: “Well what else are you supposed to talk about with someone you just met?” In America we are so used to asking the same generic "polite" questions to strangers such as: Where do you live? What do you do for a living? Where are you from? It is normal for us to ask these seemingly harmless questions to “get a sense” of what the other person is like. If we weren’t to ask those questions, what on earth would we talk about?
I suppose one could discuss the last book they read, their favorite restaurant, the most recent art exhibition they attended (all the more reason to continue with my pursuit of Culture Comme les Francais).
I will explore this topic further in the future (trust me I could go on for ages)… but for right now I would love to know… do you give away too much information about yourself? Or do you prefer le mystere?
Photo of Modigliani's Jeanne (a wonderfully mysterious woman) is pictured above.
What French Women Know can be purchased at: www.amazon.com