If I were Carrie Bradshaw, I would start like this: ‘I couldn’t help but wonder, am I exotic?’
But I’m not Carrie Bradshaw, so I won’t.
The thing is, this morning, I went to the bank -I know, I know, fascinating- and was treated like a fancy princess by the woman working there, and let me tell you, it wasn’t because of my bank account.
She fell in love with me the moment I told her I was French. Just to be clear, I don’t walk around telling everyone I’m French, but it was necessary information for the question I wanted to ask her, which was about international wire transfers -my life is so glam.
Her face lit up and she stopped listening to me instantly. She actually cut me off and asked me to confirm that I am, in fact, French.
Ummm yeah, calm down, bank lady.
She especially had trouble keeping it in her pants when she mentioned my brand new president, whom we elected yesterday, and she literally said: ‘Oh my, you have a sexy new president!’. True, our new guy is probably the sexiest president we’ve had since, well, Chirac.
Well hello there, Mr. President.
Alright, back to Bank Lady. She helped me out with my questions, but as soon as that was done, she asked me a million questions of her own, about how it feels to be French -I mean wut- and what brought me here. Part of me still thinks she wanted to check that I was here legally, but mostly, she really wanted to know more about being French. She mentioned several times that she was born and raised around here and had not travelled too much, so the idea of living so far from home fascinated her. I indulged her a little bit and andswered a bunch of her questions in a way that was as cliché as possible. I casually mentioned croissants a couple of times and I basically gave her what she wanted to hear -my international wire question had high stakes; I was trying to score a couple of free ones.
It’s not the first time a person has completely exoticized me because being French is a small part of my identity. On paper, it bothers me, because it turns me into a walking stereotype and ignores who I really am. We’ve talked about this. But in real life, when someone asks you a lot of weird questions about your Frenchness, you smile and nod, because it is not the time or the place to take a stand and quote Edward Said.
I know orientalism doesn’t apply to me, I’m just making a joke, relax.
So, Bank Lady asked me a lot of personal questions and, when it came to why I was in the area instead of in the town where I go to school, I told her my boyfriend lived around here and I was staying with him for the week. She then proceeded to ask me how we met -if you are starting to think that Bank Lady is a little inappropriate, you’re not the only one- and she ended up saying something along the lines of ‘he must have liked you instantly because you’re French!’
Alright. So I know that it came from a good place, probably. She meant it as a compliment. She also is not totally wrong; my boyfriend thought it was really sexy to date a French woman, but after almost 4 years, the novelty of it has worn off for real. But come on Bank Lady, saying he liked me instantly because of my nationality? That’s pushing it a little bit too far. He liked me instantly because I have a great rack.