Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with France. On the one hand, we use “French” as a positive adjective, applied to everything from kissing to toast, and we admire French cuisine and fashion.
I’ve always had this image of impeccably chic French women with a spartan wardrobe of 3 perfectly fitted sweaters, a pair of slacks, a pencil skirt, and 2 Hermes scarves, out of which they create 300 different, equally stunning outfits. As well as never getting fat despite enjoying daily champagne and truffles. But we also use being French as a symbol of snobbery and effete-ness. Remember how John Kerry was attacked during the 2004 election for speaking fluent French? His fluency was supposed to reflect everything that was wrong with his privileged background. And there was that unfortunate episode in 2003 when France’s refusal to participate in the Iraq war resulted in Congress renaming a familiar side dish – anyone remember “freedom fries?”
So France’s latest news will probably cause some mixed reactions, but I for one am thrilled that the country we associate with ooh la la and romance has now opened up official recognition of romance (i.e. marriage) to same sex couples. Sure, France is a largely Catholic country, but it’s also a place we associate with l’amour, toujours l’amour. Madame Popejoy, my high school french teacher, would be proud of me, I didn’t even have to look up the spelling!
Quick disclosure: I was actually born in France. I have no French roots, but my dad was in the airforce about to be stationed in Labrador; he & mom had a whirlwind courtship and he swore the last thing he would do before he shipped out was to get her pregnant. And it was. So she went to France, where her parents were on sabbatical and which was at least a little closer to Labrador. So while I have no recollection of my 3 formative months in France, I have a soft spot for the country. (And my parents checked: as a US citizen born in an Air Force Hospital, I could run for President. Of course, at the time they checked, Donald Trump wasn’t around.)
Anyway, here’s this week’s song in celebration of France joining the increasingly large list of countries that have legalized same sex marriage: