There’s something about French guys… and you just want to hear what they have to say! I’m often asked what my husband thinks about American culture, food, the people and more. Curious minds want to know what French guys think about all kinds of things, so today, my husband, Tom is bringing you the third installment of his series called Ask Tom Tuesdays. He’s answering your questions about whatever you want to know….
He came up with the idea for today’s post almost two months ago but because of how big of an answer it is, we’re going to run this “Best of Both Worlds” series in a few different parts. Hopefully every (or every other??) week until Tom has said all that he needs to say.
OK, on to today’s post. Tom’s talking about the best and worst of the USA and France — Part 1.
Toilets in the US
Before we get into Tom’s post, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks for making this series a success. The posts have generated a lot of interest, and to be honest, when Tom set out to write his first post, he was a little apprehensive. Scared to write in English and that maybe no one would understand what he meant or that his viewpoint would just be written off. But that’s not the case, so thank you for your support. I think there are a lot of American perspectives on France from expats like myself sharing their worlds with the blogosphere, but how many French guys are there doing the same in English? Tom and I really appreciate the support! (so show him some love in the comments please.)
Question: “As someone who used to live in France, I find myself missing things from there now that I’m back in the U.S. What are the best and worst aspects of life in France versus the U.S.” — From a reader named Nicole
Hello Oui In France readers. I’m baaaaaack! After a short break mostly due to our move (yes, two months is a short break for a French guy ;-)) I’m back with a new post. And today’s post is about what I love and hate about life in both France and the USA. And this is a big answer, so for Part 1, I have to say that the perfect world would have French toilets.
Let me be the first to tell you that for a French guy, a trip to the bathroom in the U.S. can be stressful!
It’s absolutely not a matter of hygiene — the U.S. toilets aren’t dirtier than the French or anything — I’m talking more about… well, let’s say the “system.” You see, in France when I go to the bathroom, I do my little (or big) business, I flush and it’s done, no stress. But in the U.S., I got stressed because I never really know if the toilet is going to get clogged or not, thus leaving me in an uncomfortable situation, and that’s stressful. This just doesn’t happen in France and it’s happened several times to me to clog toilets in the U.S. (and trust me those are not really the kind of “memories” I’m happy to share! I can’t even believe I’m writing about this).
My worst experience with American toilets was this one time when I was at Diane’s aunt and uncle’s house for a Christmas party. After doing my business, I flushed. But damn, the water didn’t drain and I realized shortly after it’s clogged. The level of water started to rise, but I was too embarrassed to go out of the bathroom to get help. So instead I decided to take my chances again, thinking that a flush might work the second time (which happens in France to make sure all your business is flushed down). Oh boy, what a mistake! Nothing got sucked down into the toilet and instead the water rose even more, so much actually that it was half an inch away from overflowing the toilet. And then it happened almost in slow motion. The toilet overflowed and started spreading over the entire bathroom. Oh damn, I’m starting to sweat at this point and feeling very uncomfortable, and now I’m trapped, without plan B!
The only solution to this mess is to go to Diane’s uncle in the middle of the party and tell him that I kind of had an accident in his nice bathroom!
Which I did, losing the pride I still had at that time! Haha! And her uncle came right up with his plunger like it was no big thing and I cleaned up the water. Now Diane and I sometimes joke about it, but in the moment I was very embarrassed! And that’s one of the reasons (because as I said it happened to me several times) why I’m often stressed to go to the bathroom in the U.S. Now I know to do about five flushes so all the paper doesn’t go down at once.
Now before you think I just don’t know how to use a toilet, believe me or not, it has NEVER happened to me in France! So I wondered why, and I came to the conclusion that the toilets here work differently than there.
I noticed that in the U.S. the bowl is always full of water (at least in most of the places where I’ve been), and when you flush all of that water goes into circles and that’s apparently how it gets drained out (as you imagine, I always watch that little toilet swirl dance to make sure that nothing gets stuck!). In France, there’s just a tiny bit of water in the bowl, and when you flush it sucks the contents of the bowl kind of like it does in an airplane.
About the bowl full of water, I must add that’s it’s really not convenient when you pee (at least when you’re a man), because it splashes everywhere! Better not put your nice shoes too close to that bowl! (I really wonder who invented that!).
Last observation about toilets in the U.S., is about toilets in public places (malls, airports…) is they’re really horrible for privacy.
The doors and walls are so tiny that you can hear everything and see too much (like you know exactly at what step your neighbor is on, pants down, pants up…). Let alone the noises made by guys who sound like they’re giving birth, or some crazy people talking to themselves.
Like that guy once in a public bathroom in the Philadelphia train station, he was talking to himself in the bathroom, saying all these crazy things about his life story, even asking questions while I was peeing (was I supposed to answer when he was asking why he had to spend two years in jail?), no need to say that I didn’t bother drying my hands after washing them that day!
(Note : I have to say that it looks like the newer models of toilets in the U.S. seem to be like the French/European ones with less water and economical flush options).
And one last thing. I want to apologize for not responding to your comments from the first posts I wrote. That’s going to change starting right now!