November 27th in the New York Times, Pamela Drukerman wrote about Americans in Paris and while the article was somewhat amusing, it didn’t/doesn’t match my encounters with my fellow Yankees over the past three decades. She describes three groups: fantasists, denialists and anthropologists. To grossly over-simplify, she says the fantasists are looking for the Hemingway/etc. experience, the denialists are largely the dragooned spouses of men assigned here and anthropologists are like her, those folks looking for a genuine experience.
I’ve heard about the second group from my wife, who after we’d actually bought a piece of Paris property, joined a couple of women’s groups that were replete with the wives of Masters of the Universe – and for them France could have been Chad or Bangladesh, they were dragged here and forced to live in dreadful Paris.
And yes, I’ve run into some visitors who want to eat where F. Scott did, drink where Hemingway did and smoke where Sartre did. But none of them were here for long.
No, my ex-pat contacts, albeit skewed because I do a lot of restaurant reporting, tended to do well in French in school, had an obsessive interest in food (the preparation and devouring thereof) and often moved to Paris with no job but an intense desire to make enough money to eat well. And they’ve done remarkably well; sure, those doing piece work sometimes struggle between assignments; sure, some have to have day jobs to have fun at night, and sure, some have changed jobs to get to the right balance. And almost all have hooked up with a French-person of the same or opposite sex.
So, my point. While Ms. Druckerman may be correct about the world of her contacts, I suspect the other 30,000 or so US ex-pats here would each describe their fellow ex-pats in quite different groupings according to their lives and interest.