I get nostalgic when I hear My Way sung by Frank Sinatra, because I remember Claude François singing the same song (which he composed!) as Comme d’Habitude. I usually nudge the person next to me and whisper: “You know, that is a French song.” And when I wander down Lafayette Street I tell people that the French most likely saved the American revolution. Most people yawn. What really gets my fellow Americans upset is when I say that our two countries are very much alike: “No way!” they exclaim, and I answer, “As usual”.
How are we alike? Well, we have been republics for some time. We both have very varied terrain (ever ski in the United Kingdom?). We are both open to immigration. We have pretty much never fought each other in a war.
Where I do fondly love France is in the voter turn-out for Sunday’s election. I also love all these “false cognates” or faux amis, the words that are the same, but different! Remember how Bush was ridiculed by saying that French had no word for “entrepreneur”? Well, there is no word in French that means what “entrepreneur” means in English. So there. And French has no word for ‘entertainment’, et ça en dit long. Maybe America is over-entertained.
Michael Pochna is an American living in the Luberon. He is fond of France, yet still does not totally understand Le Petit Prince or the works of Jacques Derrida. He was also a film producer and a good friend of the irreverent French comedian Coluche. “I was the only American he knew and was asked a lot of questions about the United States,” he said.