The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #18 Cultivate an Air of Mystery
Last week my husband babysat while I went and treated myself to my first manicure/ pedicure in a long time. Being somewhat sleep deprived and feeling highly unglamorous, I was very much so looking forward to the experience. I did have a wonderful time (mani, pedi and 10 minute shoulder massage… heaven!) but the experience was hampered slightly by the woman in the chair next to me who was speaking loudly on her cell phone during my entire treatment. She shared lurid details about her date the night before, her status on match.com, the woe begotten details of her dwindling bank account and the fact that she hates her boss. Not only did she share these things with her friend on the other end of the phone, but also to me and an entire salon full of women.
That would never happen in France.
Living in Paris I never saw French women speaking loudly on a cell phone in public about their private life. They prefer to maintain an air of mystery. They might have a few confidants to whom they tell their innermost secrets to but I can assure you that this is not done on their cell phone in the nail salon. (In fact, it would be much more French to rapturously enjoy your manicure, pedicure and massage- not counteract the peaceful experience by stressing yourself out over your cell phone).
While people watching at a café in Paris (one of my favorite activities) I would always observe other French women in the café either alone reading or simply staring into space (probably thinking about the lurid details of their date the night before!), or, if they were sitting with a companion, speaking in hushed tones while drinking espresso. I loved imagining about the lives of these people- what they did for a living, what they were passionate about- what made them tick. Their air of mystery was so appealing.
I now avoid over-sharing about myself to people and if I need to vent to a girlfriend over the phone, I do it while walking the dog (Gatsby doesn’t mind, you know).
Along with not over-sharing cultivating a Mona Lisa smile is quite effective too. I haven’t gotten direct feedback on my quest to maintain an air of mystery but I do get a lot of curious smiles from strangers… maybe it’s working after all…
Won't you stay tuned for #17?
The above picture was taken of me (Mon Dieu I am young here!) in 2001 in the Jardin des Tuileries… It could be that the picture is rather grainy and taken almost ten years ago, but I think I look quite mysterious... non?
My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.