One of the knocks against Americans . . .
. . . is that we should be more “sophisticated”. You know, like Europeans. Particularly the French. Well, excusez-moi,: count me out.
And that’s kind of what the French do; they play deaf and blind to the glaring social problems around them, preferring instead to think of their country in the same idealized terms my wife and I once thought of it. It’s almost possible to do this in Montpellier if you never go to Mosson or Figuerolles-Gambetta, or if you steer clear of the crustpunks and shoo away the Roma kids–almost possible, but not quite. The stark reality of France is, ultimately, all around you, sleeping and dying in the streets, begging for money, looming in the distance at the end of the tramline, out in the crumbling: banlieues.
Leaving New York seemed ideal. Until the crazy landlord, topless exams, the French flu, the lack of credit cards . . .
Associate Professor of Economics, North Carolina State Univ.