Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The French have a word for it...

I recently read a newspaper article about a French magazine called l'Égoïste. The editor's tastes are so discerning, it's only been published about 17 times since 1977 because one single publication takes years to produce. A single copy of this saught-after magazine costs about $47. A new edition was recently published and sold out almost immediately since only a limited number of copies are printed. 

This is something I love about the French. Yes, I'm generalizing. No, not all French people are like this... They love the finer things in life and don't apologize for being elitist.

They also drink wine over two hour lunches, smoke, eat fatty foods all the while staying thin and are impossibly fashionable, even in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. They are incredibly sensual, love sex and are not ashamed to admit it.

They're a wonderful contrast to our incredibly dull, tight-ass Western puritanical work ethic and views on sex. A two-hour lunch? How DARE you! Get back to your cubicle worker bee! Eating white bread baguette and fat-laden, yummy cheeses? You carb-eating criminal! Bloody, crazy violence in a movie?  No problem. Explicit, loving sex scenes? Eeewwwwww. Slap an NC-17 rating on that! It's unacceptable!

The French would never have impeached a President for lying about getting a blow job from an intern but they probably would have if he'd lied to justify invading a country without a valid reason or international support, and started a fictitious war, killing thousands. But I digress.

The French also remind me of a more general European "joie de vivre" that is simply absent in North America. We work too hard and don't remember how to relax and have fun. We're made to feel guilty if we don't "tow the line" and work, work, work! Come in early, skip lunch, leave late, work from home. Wake up in forty years and wonder where your life went. Keel over of a massive heart attack six months after retiring 'cause you didn't kick back and play hard. 

Europeans, in general, are just as productive as we are. So why are we slowly killing ourselves while they're indulging in an afternoon siesta? 

One should never underestimate the healing power of a leisurely lunch or a fine Brie. And just as the editor of l'Égoïste makes no apologies for forcing her devout readers to wait years for a new edition, we should make no apologies for seeking out pleasure and being un peu égoïste.

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