If I had a dollar for every time somebody advised me to go to London, to “find a boyfriend”, I would have money. Real money. (If I had a British pound, I would be rich.) The way people talk, you would think single financiers are lining up at St Pancras by the dozen, eager to give up their signet rings for the first cute girl to step off the Eurostar.
In an effort to explore this popular notion, not to mention temporarily escape the slightly suffocating ambiance of Paris, I recently started spending more time in London. Upon arrival, I always feel somewhat like a kid at Dylan’s Candy Bar, awed by the overwhelming number of cute boys in suits permeating the streets of Mayfair. These guys seem to combine the best of both worlds, possessing the refinement of Europeans, while still retaining the Anglo-Saxon desire to work and make money. You begin believing that you too, can pull a Bridget Jones, unlocking the mysterious heart of your own Mark Darcy.
However, as you grow to know them better and your tourist goggles begin to lift, you start understanding why poor Bridget kept losing her shit. For, behind their innately gracious manners and polished accents, British men are actually a headache and a half.. The good manners and fancy accents? Just a veil for all their hidden passive-aggressiveness. That “self-deprecating humor” that they are all so proud of? A brilliant method to avoid any sort of honest discussion.
As much as the Brits rip apart the French (which can be so much fun!), they cease to realize that they are actually as frustrating as their archenemies across the Channel. In fact, these are possibly the only male species capable of giving the French a run for their money in their innate ability to make a human yearn to slam their head against a wall.
Always on a mission to make the world a better place, I decided to write a little guide of what these two types of men can learn from one another to become somewhat more tolerable people.
Things British Men Can Learn From the French
1. Speaking their feelings. British men are the most passive-aggressive creatures on the planet. It is in their blood to be polite, and polite they are. They will smile, look you in the eye and say one thing, while thinking exactly the opposite. Personally, this terrifies the shit out of me, making me yearn for the authenticity of the French, who will never hesitate to voice how bitter / angry they really feel about any given situation.
2. A little game. Never did I think I would be using French men as an example of assertiveness, but I suppose everything in life is relative. British men are, for the most part, incapable of making first moves, expecting women to actually approach them. They also like to take their sweet time and keep women hanging for ages – just look at that prince dragging along poor Kate Middleton for eternity, and this is the man who is supposed to set an example! At least the French go after what the want – until they no longer want it, that is.
3. The art of drinking. This could just be me, but British guys don’t seem to be able to establish a happy medium when it comes to alcohol. During the day, they walk around with their shiny shoes and fancy cufflinks and polished Rolexes, looking as if somebody stuck a baseball bat up their arses. However, give them a pub and a pint, and the decades of prep school propriety become barely detectable behind drunken slurs and slightly bigoted comments. Not for nothing, but Latin men are far better at handling their carafes de vin.
Things French Men Can Learn From the Brits
1. All things heath & hygiene. British men smell like humans. They shower and use deodorant (and sometimes even cologne!) They run in parks and frequent gyms and make an effort to refrain from smoking, recognizing it for the dépassé and disgusting habit that it is. Unlike the French, who sometimes seem to hopelessly stuck in the Gainsbourg era, they have moved forward with the times.
2. Work. This seems like a real concept in London.
3. Money is not a sin. Since British men work (and since England is not a socialist country), they actually make money, a fact that they are rightfully proud of. That said, British men often like to indulge in extravagant purchases, explaining the number of Porsches and Aston Martins permeating Central London. While certain displays of wealth may be too opulent for my taste, I like the idea of people rewarding themselves for hard work.
3. A little self-deprecation. Although the habit of mocking everything can sometimes get on one’s nerves, it is far better than the French penchant if taking themselves way too seriously. As I said, HAPPY MEDIUM, PEOPLE.
What else, guys? Seriously, what else?