In an earlier post, I relayed the differences between French and American traditions regarding etiquette, specifically, gentlemen opening the door for young ladies and entering before or after them.
To my complete surprise, the post was read by one of my cafe comrades, a native of Paris, who then, to the amusement of all involved in the original discussion, read the post aloud at the cafe last Friday night. (I was working and missed the reading and inevitable, imprecise translation.
Apparently, the Assembled Wise Men were coughing through their cigarettes and spitting up their beer in laughter as my best English was interpreted through volumes of alcohol.
Nevertheless, the practice of French men entering an establishment first and leaving their dates to follow behind them was considered and discussed in some detail. Tradition was given weight, as it is in all French debates. However, it was determined that, since danger no longer actually existed when entering a cafe, bar, or restaurant, the necessity for the gentleman to enter first was obsolete. He should, it was decided, open the door and hold it open for his date.
However, with what I’ll call a French Twist, it was declared unanimously that he should open the door, then lean in and assess any potential danger (in a nod to French tradition) and then allow his date to enter ahead of him.
How long it might have taken to reach this conclusion (in terms of beers or hours) is anybody’s guess. I was not present.
But I was impressed. Once again, the French reviewed a tradition, considered its historical origins and relative merits, and adapted it to modern times.
How long it will take to implement this ‘new tradition’ to the younger generation of Parisian males is another matter.
One that we’ll take up next Friday night.