Thursday, December 13, 2001

Peter, my favorite secret king, was just writing about the Paris of his imagination, the movie "Amelie från Montmartre" (or whatever the name of it is if you don't live in Sweden), and whether U.S. citizens are as immediately recognizeable as the French, even before they open their mouths.

Let me start from the back and move my way forwards.

1) People from the U.S. We are loud and we like to talk, so you never really get a chance to see anyone before he or she has started to speak. This means it's very hard to say whether the language and accent give us away. But we do have distinctive traits. For instance, we seem to take up about 10 feet of personal space on either side of us which not only shoves all the oxygen out of small rooms but tends to smack unsuspecting people in the face if they get too near. Not that we mean to smack people in the face with our personal space, it just kind of happens. Oh, and we love hyperbole: ''I love your hair." or "I would die for a coke." My husband loves these expressions.

2) "Amelie från Montmartre." As I mentioned before, I haven't seen the movie, but the pictures of Audrey Tatou look just like the pictures of Melinda to me. Uh, if Audrey had purple hair.

3) Paris of the imagination. Peter, the real thing is, in fact, every bit as lovely as you imagine. Block after block, arrondisement after arrondisement of heart-stopping beauty. It is somehow like New York, I suppose because both cities don't understand why anyone would live anywhere else. And both cities have convinced the rest of the world that they are superior to every other city. And they're right, of course.

The Swedish word for the day is oehört. It means tremendously.

- by Francis S.

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