I'm always pleased and satisfied to read an explanation of my own behavior writ large in a headline. Apparently I'm fat and tired because I'm an American. Yet another study has made the astounding discovery that the French spend more time eating and sleeping than us, yet we are the wider for our short-shrifting of these two horizontal pleasure sites.
I've been pondering the differences between the French and myself, trying to account for my unseemly behavior. If I merely spoke French, perhaps that would help. I'd speak more slowly. Well, truly I would speak rarely, as my French is terrible and my accent is worse. And if I spoke less, maybe I would sleep more. If I slept more, perhaps my rested self would eat more slowly, thus taking in less food in more time.
But if I spoke French, then I'd have to BE French. Or at least pretend to be. And French women wear very insensible shoes, upon which they totter. I'm not good at tottering. Or teetering. Neither of which are similar to Twittering, which I also do not do. Perhaps I need to wear those insensible French shoes to the dinner table, as they would also encourage me to sit for a long period of time--seeing as how I can't stand up in them.
The French eye roll? That I can do. The shrug? I'm there. And, really, the sleep part would be awfully easy to take on. Yes, I'd do it, pull on my big girl panties and take those 9 hours of sleep as painful medicine. But when would I tackle my big life accomplishments, like the NYTimes Thursday puzzle or the Trib's Friday sudoku, or blog about important politic issues of our times, like studies that waste thousands of dollars telling us that which we already know? Which is more pleasurable, sleep or these things?
The hardest part would be the slow eating. For years and years, I've made family dinner time a priority, as a good rule-following mother should. Slapped those home-cooked meals down on the table at 5:30, gathered the family together for quality food, quality time, and quality conversations. Doesn't that sound conducive to slow eating? Harumph. Not so much.
Why? The boys argue with regularity about any possible topic, as fathers and young men are apt to do. The teenage girl reacts with predictable dramatic flair to the annoying male things that her father and brother are apt to do.
Further, the whole family is so comfortable in their knowledge of my love that they feel free to critique the previously mentioned quality food that I prepare. Well, I am not interested in their critiques. Not one bit. I make the food; you eat the food; you are grateful for the food or you cook it yourself.
None of these behaviors (including my own) seem to lend themselves to quiet family bonding moments. No one is hanging around the dinner table for hours at a time. Rather, I find that I react to these behaviors by eating as much food as I can as quickly as I can. This definitely doesn't fit into the French plan of eat little for a long time. I love my family but I do not want to sit at the table with them for a long time at this stage of our family life together. So shoot me.
Rather than resort to violence (against my family or self-inflicted), I've encouraged a whole new line of behaviors, including reading at the table, grazing, and studiously avoiding eye contact while eating, the better to bypass those pesky social interactions between family members. I find myself feeling more French every meal, as arguments, furious silence or ear plugging are replaced by blissful long moments of shared quiet over good reading material.
Pass the croissants, s'il te plait. :-)