14 May 2009

The Incredible Lightness of Being Self Conscious

Paris is an enchanting city for many reasons, not least for the behaviour of its locals. Although most of my my time here has been full with happy unfulfilled thoughts and experiences, I have enjoyed the privilege of observing another culture for an extended period of time.

That much became very clear recently as I have slowly begun to persuade, ever so suggestively, genuine French people to invite me to their parties. Entering a party where you do not really speak the language enables you to focus on things other people forget or overlook. For me it began at this recent party, when I cracked why it is that, despite not always being classically beautiful, French women can be so attractive. It is in large part to do with their lips.

I am not talking about some collective decision by French women to pout. It is simply that spoken french requires a greater movement of the mouth, and flip of the lip, than spoken English. Whereas the idealised English entails minimum mouth movement, and praises vocalisation through closed teeth, French is quite the opposite. Indeed there is a rhythm about the way they speak each word, dwelling on it a bit longer than your average English speaker, and ending with a little flourish. All this simply means that a French three breasted freak is likely to be more attractive than the equivalent in England.

I noticed all this at a party where I was passed around from lady to lady. I thought it was because of my fragrant (I recently purchased a new perfume with notes of rose and wood) exoticism, but I later found out that they were unnerved by my staring at their lips. The most charitable of them thought I was severely cross eyed (I don't have anything against this type of illness or disease, some of my best friends are cross eyed).

I should also say something about the men of course (although I am not Gay (TM)) (I have nothing against Gay (TM) people, some of my best friends are Gay (TM)). French men, in many cases, can be beautiful creatures, accentuating their "otherness", and therfore some mystery, through their penchant to fit scarves into their attire come what may. All this is usually twinned with a fitted jacket and 3 or 4 days worth of 9 0'clock shadow. But perhaps more than anything else, I noticed (at this party and others I have been to) their proud (usually furry) chests. Perhaps like some other European nations, all the men at this party had 3/4 buttons undone, revealing a lot of chest with long almost combed hair, all framed with a very well starched shirt.
To be quite frank I was strangely attracted to this look-it felt so carefree, confident and Enrique Eglesias. And so, and I am not afraid to admit this, I went into the toilet and undid my buttons too. Except that my now exposed chest was not really ready for this sudden exposure, because you still needed some sort of tan so as not to provide such a great contrast between the chest hair and relatively pasty brown chest. But even worse I realised that I was afflicted with patchy pubic style chest hairs, unlike the combed, slightly ruffled, solid growth enjoyed by the French male. All this I am afriad made for an unseemly sight which could not be ignored no matter how much confidence I tried to display. Another lesson learnt.

I think Mooli's should open a branch in Paris, hire French waitresses and give away chest wigs.


Franziska said...

ah Tariiq, je t'adore tes histoires!
je suis bien decue que je ne puisse pas te voir ce weekend...

Anonymous said...

"relatively pasty brown chest" is a fine phrase. i'll have to check on that some day.