To his amazement, distinguished British author, Geoff Dyer, recently discovered that American were not just crazy gun nuts. They are, he writes in a dazed NYT article, "friendly, hospitable and polite".
After twenty-five years in France, which I adore, I must admit that I too am occasionally struck by the American genius for disarming charm.
On a recent family trip to Arizona, I had to take my daughter to the Department of Motor Vehicles. (You know pleasant that is in Paris.) A formidable-looking fonctionnaire
woman behind the gigantic counter handed my daughter a form to fill out. She messed it up, and, trembling, returned to the counter to ask for another.
The formidable woman fonctionnaire
looked at my daughter.
"Eve," she said to her, "*W,hy that's a pretty name."
My daughter nodded mutely.
"You know," the lady said, "There's a song with 'Eve' in it."
And before Eve could say "It's not my fault!" (c'est pas de ma faute
) the state employee burst into song.
"Eeeevee!" she warbled, "Eeeevee."
We stood, feeling strangely French, astonished.
When she had finished, the lady leaned forward across the counter. "You have a good day now," she winked.
"Maman," my daughter whispered to me as we left a little later, business successfully concluded, "no official in France would serenade me like that!"
And I thought: how wonderful, this small and seemingly silly kindness to put a nervous girl at ease.
Happy New Year!!
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