I’m a bit of a Francophile but let’s face it: the French are surly. Which is not to say they’re rude, though they may be that too. But their lips curl into a natural snarl. Even the women. Okay, particularly the women.
You walk around the harbor of St. Martin looking for a little seaside café for lunch, some place where you can sit for a couple of hours just watching all the bicyclists pass by the waterfront like schools of fish, finally settling on Le Serghi which is small, but not too small, out of the main hub-bub but still close enough that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.
You order a dozen oysters, the grilled sardines, and a half-bottle of rose and you’re thinking life is pretty damn fine, but then, as she grabs the menu, the waitress arches her eyebrows at you and—there it is!—the snarling French lips.
Is it what I ordered or just my pronunciation? Or both? Though it doesn’t really matter because I’ll tell you what: I’m not really offended. In fact, I think it’s kind of sexy.
“Pédale!” I snarl back, dismissing her with a sweep of my hand (now we’re flirting). She makes a little clicking noise with her tongue and darts away.
Later, as I’m eating my sardines, I catch her staring at me as she leans against the restaurant, smoking a cigarette. I’ll tell you something else: I hate smokers with a passion. But if I were French, I think I’d smoke. Maybe that’s how they keep their snarls in place—smoking those hideous Gitanes.
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