Parisians are all high flying anthropologists. They know about other people and about other countries. Expertly enough, they manage to synthesize their in-depth knowledge about the people of any given country down to one adjective. This adjective cannot be challenged. Thus proving that it is accurate.
As an example, Americans are stupid, Portuguese are hairy, Vietnamese are Chinese, and Belgians are sympa… ”Ils sont sympas les belges!” To cheer a Parisian up, there is nothing like mentioning the word “belge“. Immediately, a joyful and smily heap of thoughts will invade the Parisian’s mind.
The Parisian will be transported to a world of accents, of moules frites and of people laughing. At this point, the Parisian will most likely come up with a silly sentence delivered with with a poor Belgian accent. He will most likely end that sentence with the phrase “une fois“. “Mah tu n’es pas un peu con, une fois…” Very rarely in his life will he be as happy as right after he comes up with such a sentence. Genuine Parisian bliss.
Parisians never crack a Belgian joke. Too risky for their image. But they love les Belges even more as they can consider them through that comforting buffer of superiority that decades of Belgian jokes have established precisely at the border between France and Belgium. This buffer of superiority is emphasized by the Belgians’ drinking habits (“tu veux une bière, une fois?!”). Parisians truly look down on anyone that drinks. Interestingly enough, this perception is slightly amended for les Belges. Parisians find their drinking habits if not cute at least typical – and ultimately quite entertaining. The fact that a Belgian could be sad or not joyful is not something the Parisian is ready to cope with. Belgians are joyful, generally drunk and speak with a funny accent.
Parisians love spending time with Belgians. But these moments can only be occasional. The Parisian who spends time with Belgians runs the risk of gaining some form of light-heartenedness. Parisians know better than hedging such a risk. Social threat.
Two elements tarnish what otherwise would be a true perfect relationship for the Parisian. One – that half of the Belgians are Dutch (for Les Hollandais, ils sont chiants). Two – this habit the other half of Belgians have to use savoir for pouvoir. As in: “Tu saurais me passer le sel, s’il te plaît”. Other Belgian phrases amuse Parisians. This one makes them cringe. All the more so as the Belgian won’t change this habit – even when asked to do so by a Parisian. Disrepectful Belgians after all? The Parisian prefers to see them as children – “de grands enfants” (disrespectful being something the Parisian can never be).
On top of the favorite topics talked about with a Belgian ranks Belgian politics. The Parisian knows nothing about Belgian politics except for the fact that the country is about to burst. The Parisian knows that for sure. And that’s all the Belgian politics he wants to talk about. The only relevant question in Belgian politics to the Parisian is : when is Belgium becoming a part of France? At this point, le Belge usually says something about Brittany or Corsica. Then the Parisian gets offended. And talks about sex scandals in Belgium or Johnny Hallyday.
In no time at all, a Parisian with the best intention in the world turned a cloudless relationship into an embarassing fight scene. Had the Parisians stuck to his initial ‘entertain me, Belgian man’ ways, things would have been just fine.
Really, good intentions and Parisians don’t seem to work well together. Une fois.
Useful tip: Read les BDs Le Chat, by Belgian, kind and talented Philippe Geluck - funny stuff.
Sound like a Parisian: “On a rencontré des Belges en vacances, hyper sympa… tu vois, elle, bon humour, sympa, lui, gros déconneur, très sympa aussi. Parc contre, qu’est-ce qu’ils picolent!!”