May 1, 2010

Cheating -- is that a cultural definition??

Americans have this idea that the French are more tolerant of cheating, not just tolerate really, but totally accepting.  If a man decides he needs a mistress, no big deal.  In Suzy Gershman's book, C'est La Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and--Voila!--Becomes Almost French, she has an affair with a married 'Count'.  They meet for drinks at a local hotel and he asks if she wants to be his mistress.  This scene is replayed in the film 'Le Divorce', where Kate Hudson's character, gets asked by her sister's uncle-in-law if she wants to be his mistress.  I am not really sure why though, while Kate has a great body, her hair is horrible in that movie.  Then there is that French politician whose mistress and illegitimate children were very publically accepted as his funeral.  
So recently, I had heard through the grapevine that a friend from college had cheated on his wife and now they are getting a divorce.  How horrible, they have a small child, I thought.  But then I found out the 'cheating' consisted on some suggestive IMs.  Divorce and custody battles over some 'suggestive emails' with an ex-GF.  Well maybe he was no longer interested in his wife and wanted a little excitement.  When I need some excitement, I search for pictures of Matthew McConaughey shirtless;)  So anyway, our American friends have confirmed: thinking of or being suggestive with another human being is cheating as long as it is exciting to you.  French friend though well it you are going to be called a cheater, you might as well have had some real fun.  
So I thought, well typical,  Americans are prudes.  But then I was talking to 'S', the au pair living in our home, and she is of the American school of thought on this.  Well she doesn't like Chevre, mushrooms or shellfish, so I am not sure of her 'Frenchness'.  She had explained that once she had a boyfriend that was on an internet dating site while they were together and that it was cheating.  She is pretty sure that he didn't go out with another girl, but could have gotten or sent message from/to them.  Well after 11 years together if A really wants to put his picture on Craigslist Casual Encounters, as long as he isn't actually having any, why do I really care.  I guess I am of the 'It doesn't matter where you get hungry, as long as you come home to eat' stance.  I think 'woman' who answer though ads are just hairy obese men anyways;)
I am not sure if this makes me more French or more American.  More conservative or more liberal.  What is conservative anyways, a high divorce rate or letting some mild chatter slide.  There is not even a base to reference on 'suggestive talking' and 'thinking', would that be a strike, a foul ball, or maybe an 'injury' that causes the person unable to play?

Suzy and Kate can have their Parisian Hotel encounters.  The fantasy with Matthew McConaughey shirtless will never let me down;)

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