112 gripes

    20. "The French aren't friendly."

     Some Frenchman are; other Frenchmen are not.

     The French as a whole are not as "hail fellow well met" as we Americans are. Neither are the British, the Swedes, the Greeks, the Mexicans.

     Frenchmen don't get personal or confidential quickly.

     They don't "open up" as quickly as we do in the States.

     The French are very polite; they are also more formal than we are about personal relationships. (So are the Chinese.) The French respect another person's privacy, and they like to have their own privacy respected too.

     It is natural for anyone to think the people of another nation are not as friendly as his own people. It's hard to be friendly in a foreign language. It's hard to be friendly when you're hungry, cold, and have gone through six years of war - as the French have. Yet the Americans who came into Normandy, or who came into Paris right after the liberation, still talk about the astonishing outburst of gratitude, generosity and friendliness which the French displayed toward us.

     Back in the States, many of our troops complained that the people in the towns near the training camps were not friendly. People from our South often complain that the people in the North are not friendly. A Texan in Vermont finds New Englanders "cold" and "snobbish". Do we then say that all Americans are unfriendly?

     Friendship, said a wise man, lies in this: "To desire the same things and to reject the same things." On this basis, the United States has never had a better friend than France. (See question � 69.)