Friday, June 22, 2007

Weirdo magnet

Pépé is convinced that I’m a weirdo magnet. In fact, he thinks that everyone who’s say, a little different, has some kind of weird attraction to me. In the Metro (or the U-bahn), in the street, anywhere really, I can somehow find myself seated or happily chatting away to some weird stranger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! The problem is that I tend to ignore the golden rule of public transportation: don’t look others in the eyes and never ever smile! Smiling = an invitation to divulge one’s entire life story to me and I unfortunately smile a lot!

So yeah, this usually ends up with me having major discussions with perfect strangers on diverse subjects such as (oh and I never start the conversation!):
- Tunisian food (someone who saw my groceries)
- Asian food (someone else who was eyeing my groceries)
- Why he moved to Paris (who knows why he divulged this?)
- Tourist sites in Paris (understandable as there are loads of tourists in Paris)
- Marriage and my husband (was he trying to pick me up?)
- Advantages of wearing ballerina shoes in the Metro (someone who was wearing sandals)
- Why the younger generation no longer attends mass (one Sunday morning with an elderly lady)

I’ve even corrected a CV (in English of course!) for a financial controller between the Gare du Nord and Denfert-Rochereau Metro stops.

So anyway, now that we’re in Frankfurt, given that my German skills are limited to Ich verstehe nicht (I don’t understand) and Ich weisse nicht (I don’t know), I avoid smiling at just anyone. I’m not ready to have someone follow me home to discuss the advantages of wearing socks with sandals for 2 days, in a language that I don’t understand!

Why am I telling you all this? Well, you see, I run (well, walk very very fast) 3 times a week on the banks of the Main (I’m trying to lose that muffin top!) And each time, I get the feeling that the other joggers stare at me. At first I thought that it was maybe my underarm sweat patches…not to mention my under-boob sweat patches! Or maybe the lovely odour following me around (goes with the sweat patches). Or even possibly the pained expression on my face.

Anyway, yesterday, without even thinking about it, I flashed a great big smile (at least what I think was a smile as it’s a little difficult to smile when you can’t breathe!) at some guy who was staring at me…and I received 3 huge smiles in return (from him and the 2 others behind him!).

And bingo! I just realised why people were staring at me. It wasn’t my red round face glistening with sweat but the Germans were actually eagerly waiting for me to smile at them (people smile a lot here – it’s a bit weird!)!

Anyway, this means that every time I run, despite the lack of oxygen, I make an effort to smile at these German strangers. Hopefully they don’t try to take it any further and make conversation!

Mon mari est convaincu que je suis une ‘weirdo magnet’, c’est-à-dire, des gens un peu ‘différents’ voire ‘bizarres’ sont toujours attirés par moi. Dans le Métro (ou U-bahn), dans les rues, n’importe où en fait, j’arrive toujours à me trouver à côté un inconnu un peu différent. Ceci n’est pas toujours une mauvaise chose sauf que je ne suis jamais la règle d’or des transports en commun: ne pas regarder d’autres gens dans les yeux ni (surtout pas!) leur faire un sourire! Un sourire = invitation à me confesser toute votre vie, et cela m’est arrivé souvent!

Le résultat? J’ai déjà eu des discussions profondes avec des inconnus sur divers sujets, y compris les suivants (et ce n’est jamais moi qui commence la conversation!) :
- la nourriture Tunisienne (en voyant mes courses)
- la nourriture Asiatique (quelqu’un d’autre, en voyant mes courses)
- la raison pour laquelle cette personne a déménagé à Paris (sans raison)
- les sites touristiques à Paris (c’est normal – il y a beaucoup de touristes à Paris)
- le mariage et mon mari (quelqu’un qui a essayé de me draguer?)
- les avantages des ballerines dans le Métro (quelqu’un qui portait des sandales)
- les jeunes ne vont plus à l’église (un dimanche matin avec une vielle dame)

J’ai même déjà corrigé un CV en anglais pour un contrôleur de gestion entre la Gare du Nord et Denfert-Rochereau!

Alors maintenant à Frankfurt, car je ne parle guère allemand, j’évite de faire un sourire à n’importe qui. J’ai peur que un jour, je vais tomber sur quelqu’un qui va me suivre jusqu’à chez moi pour me parler des avantages de porter des chaussettes avec ses sandales pendant 2 jours, dans une langue que je ne comprends pas!

En fait, je vous raconte cela parce que je cours (um..marche très très vite) 3 fois par semaine sur les quais du Main (pour perdre mon muffin top!). Et chaque fois, j’ai l’impression que les autres gens me fixent! Au début, j’ai pensé que c’était peut-être les auréoles de sueur sous mes bras…et aussi sous ma poitrine! Ou peut-être l’odeur qui me suit (les auréoles de sueur vous savez?). Ou possiblement l’expression de douleur sur mon visage?

Finalement hier, sans y penser, j’ai fait un grand sourire (plus ou moins un sourire car c’est difficile de sourire quand on ne peut pas respirer!) à quelqu’un qui me fixait…et j’ai reçu 3 grands sourires (de lui et des 2 autres derrières!).

Et voila! Je savais pourquoi les gens me fixaient! Ce n’était pas mon visage rond, rouge et brillant de sueur mais en fait, les Allemands s’attendaient que je leur fasse un sourire (les gens sourient beaucoup ici!)!

Trop bizarre! En conséquence, chaque fois que je cours, malgré ma souffrance grâce au manque d’oxygène, je fais quand même un grand sourire aux Allemands inconnus. Tant pis s’ils essaient de me parler!


matthew said...

you are a bit of a weirdo magnet...
case in point being myself ;-)
and you do have a nice smile :-)
can we get a picture of your smile on here??

anigma said...

Hahahah. I think it is still safe to talk to strangers in France. In Malaysia these days, we have to really, really take care of ourselves. Some people smiled at you then the moment they go near you, you would automatically surrender your valuables and money to the person. I don't know how they do it. But it's not safe to do this (smiling to strangers) anymore here in Malaysia.

I find that you are not weird. You are just friendly and generous with your smiles. :)

J.T. said...

That is funny. I found the same thing too. People here love to smile. Of course, there are exceptions. Some scowl. hahaha
Most of them try to make conversation with me. That is when I say "Ich verstehe nicht" or "Ich spreche nur ein bischen Deutsch" (I speak only a little German).

But they just love to stare at you when you walk into a restaurant - especially in small towns. Sometimes I feel like a lone cowgirl swaggering into a wild wild west bar and hush falls over the room. :D

On the whole, Germans are nice people. :)

Froggy Woogie said...

Oh I wouldn't mind someone telling his/her life in a language I don't understand. I would just nodd my head sometimes with an adapted local "ja ja" or "si". As for the smiling thing I've noticed the same in America. You smile and they smile you back. There are kind people everywhere. Unfortunately there are also weirdos (I mean creepy) everywhere as well...

ColourMeCrazy said...

Matt: Hehe - yeah, I knew there was a reason why we were friends!

Anigma: Yeah, I don't smile at strangers in Malaysia! I remember that the last time i was there! Esp. if you're female! over here - most of the time it's ok. You just get a lot of lonely people who want to chat!

JT: I find that people stare and smile a whole lot more in Germany than in France! hehe - I can just imagine you walking into a restaurant and all heads swivelling around to stare at you! hehe! Next time you should just wave to them all!

FroggyWoogie: I try to keep my stares for little old ladies - at least I know they won't try to chase me down! Oh, and nice young attractive looking men of course!...umm..ooops...shouldn't have said husband reads this! Hehe!

IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Oh... I LOVE this post... We are alike in this way.. I am from So. Cal.. land of sun and smiles... When someone DOESN'T smile back at you.. we think they are RUDE and ANTI SOCIAL!! Here in France, I do smile, not as much, because I am more annoyed on the streets with all the smokers and people who don't know how to walk on a sidewalk... but generally, I smile and get smiles back... and talk to strangers on the bus and metro and bus stop and bathroom... hehe... I try to avoid CREEPY people 'cuz I have a weirdo magnet of my own.. that is to say.. I can DECTECT them and avoid them comme la peste!! Anyhow.. YOU GO GIRL.. smile away and show those pearly whites.. and people DO really appreciate good cheer and it puts people in a nice mood!!! Ciao... Leesa

ColourMeCrazy said...

IslandGirl: hehe - I need to get my weirdo radar tuned!

ChristinaG said...

Hi there! I'm enjoying your blog. I think Frankfurt must be a lot different than Berlin, which is where I lived when I first moved to Germany. There everybody stares and if you smile they look concerned and move away from you. Was a difficult transition for me!

ColourMeCrazy said...

Hi Christina: Thx for dropping by! Hehe - yeah, I guess Berlin is a much bigger city. Frankfurt is pretty small so I suppose people tend to smile more!