Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sorbonne and Cigarettes

[Warning:  this post drifts anywhere and everywhere.  Just so you know.]

I've just been over at the Daily Connoisseur (had to go check how to spell that).  She lived for a while in France and is writing about that experience.  I had a work colleague in Utah who also lived in Paris, where she studied medicine at the Sorbonne.  Of course D spoke fluent French, which was demonstrated one afternoon when a handsome young black man came to visit the office from Atlanta.  He, too, had spent time in France and as the two chattered away in French, both clearly enjoying the practice, the whole office stood around and watched, mesmerised.  We actually applauded them afterwards.  Clearly, we didn't get out and about much. 

D was perhaps only a couple of years older than I, but her style was completely different.  Being from Oklahoma, my style was more along Texan lines; it is widely recognised that Texas Women Try Harder.  D wore flat shoes with classic skirts, blouses and jackets in quite serious menswear type fabrics.  Her jacket and skirt were often colour coordinated but not a matched suit, something men also do.  She rarely wore make up, particularly not eye make-up, and her shoulder length hairstyle was neat but natural looking.  She was thin, with lovely translucent skin that made her ultra-feminine in spite of her serious clothes.  She was never one to confide very much about herself, but she was still quite open and approachable.  She was great company and huge fun.  I shall always be grateful to her for introducing me to the music of Bonnie Raitt.  I, in turn, introduced her to the joys of  shopping at thrift stores.  

D often spoke about her experience of being an au pair, living in the attic, getting Madame's permission to take a weekly bath in the family bathroom, about the strict rules of the house, washing her clothes by hand, etc.  She never seemed to see it as a hardship, though it must have been challenging.  She was clearly enriched by her experience of living in a different culture.  I hope to enjoy D's company again sometime when we live in Salt Lake City.  The Daily Conneisseur always makes me think of D.

In this post, her point about the rude way in which people use their mobile phones also hit home.  (Don't even get me started on personal music players.  Suffice it to say the railways instituted a quiet car for those of us who wish to keep their remaining sanity.)  I've lost count of the number of times I've had to step out of the way of some one so engrossed in their text message or phone conversation that they were about to walk straight into me.  If they can't walk and talk at the same time, why would anyone believe they could safely drive?   The lost peace and quiet of libraries, changing rooms and even toilets (does the person on the other end really want to hear the toilet sounds?) sometimes makes me wish for the good old days of phone booths.   I always feel sorry for the girl or boy whose partner is busy talking on the phone as they walk down the street, supposedly together but obviously are not.  

People have actually begun to look rather strange to me, walking around with their hand stuck to their head, elbow waving.  They make me think of the adverts Brooke Shields did years ago as part of an anti-smoking campaign. 

I don't believe any of the health scare stories about mobile phones causing brain cancer or anything, but there are sufficient social ills I sometimes wonder if an anti-mobile campaign wouldn't be in order.

1 comment:

Jo said...

In the US the States keep trying to limit cell phone use/texting while driving. Any number of accidents are attributed to cell phone use while driving. My question is why do people talking on cell phones think the need to talk loud enough for everyone in the room to hear what they are saying?