To Be or Not to…wait, what was that? I got bored.

I love television shows that have to do with food because I think that food is awesome and fascinating.  I enjoy watching people use their creativity to develop dishes and concepts; I enjoy seeing new techniques and ideas; however, I do not need it in 3-hour chunks at a time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to pretend that I have never watched 3 episodes of say…Top Chef at a time, because I have.  I have even watched a 2-hour one episode special because they usually only do that when it is action packed with disasters and people being sent home; but I do not need to see 3-hour episodes on a regular basis.  Who has the attention span for that?

Apparently, the French do.

Their episodes of Masterchef and Top Chef are 3 hours long and not because there are crazy out- of-control-fights and not because someone catches the kitchen on fire and serves raw chicken resulting in an epic outbreak of salmonella which ends up involving a spin off reality show about the CDC but just because 3 hours for a TV show is apparently normal.  It’s like watching a staging of Hamlet in which the director decides not to cut one line (ahem…Kenneth Branagh); I mean let’s face it – Hamlet can figure out whether “to be or not to be” in less than 3 hours.  Right?

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

“Quoi?!”

“I’m bored!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  This is said with a wail as I fling myself across MB, obscuring his view to his computer screen.

“EH!  I’m trying to do something, huh?  I’m organizing the hard drive so that we can actually find things*.  Here I will explain it to you.”

I pretend like I am already asleep and snoring.

“You are ridiculous,” he says to me.

“Whaa-?  Oh, I’m sorry, I feel asleep because that explanation was SO uninteresting.”  I grin at him impishly…it’s super cute and not at all annoying…probably…maybe…ehhhhhhh…don’t know.

He leans me back against him so that we are both facing the computer and puts his arms around me.

“I don’t know if I have ever met a person with less patience than you in my entire life,” he says before giving me two quick pats on my leg meaning “get up” (which by the way, always cracks me up because it is like I am a dog…wait, should I be offended?)

This little scene is a normal everyday occurrence in our household.   I need to be entertained, I need to be moving around, I need to be doing something fun all the time; even when I clean the house I listen to books on tape with my IPod .  NO TASK SHALL EVER BE BORING!

I can’t watch a 3-hour finale of Masterchef in which only 2 people cook…especially 2 people who are super polite to each other.  Give me some drama, some action, keep me enthralled!

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”

So where does this desire for constant entertainment come from?  Why do I have an inability to sit at a dinner table for more than 2 hours without getting itchy or watch a 3-hour episode of a show that I enjoy because there isn’t enough “action”?  Is this an American trait or is this a “me” trait?

I tend to think that Americans, in general, are action people/busybees/whatever you want to call it.  We don’t like to remain still…we take our coffee to go, we eat our lunches while walking back to the office, we tend to stand at bars instead of sitting at tables to converse.  And sure, we all know that Americans watch tons of TV but each episode better be no more than an hour and action-packed in order to keep our attention spans.

Europeans, on the other hand, are still slow to embrace the take-away coffee trend and McDonalds and other fast food restaurants are always packed with people because the drive-thru isn’t as popular as sitting in the restaurant to stop and enjoy your meal (as much as on can enjoy fast food…yeah, that’s right, I said it, I’m judging).  A 3-hour dinner in Europe might even be considered short by some standards.

So which is the better method?  Is it preferable to relax and take time and soak things in…you know, smell roses, contemplate life.  Or is it better to have high energy and be constantly engaged, cutting the roses and putting them in an arrangement to be smelled and enjoyed at a more convenient time?  MB would probably like it if I could slow down and sit still some of the time (something that he considers relaxing and I consider stressful); I would occasionally like it if he had some more frenetic energy.  I don’t know whether this is a French and American thing or just our own personalities.  And I don’t know if one method of living is better than the other.

So I’ll leave it to the wiser mind of Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  A mature philosophy, the philosophy of a reasonable and patient person, a person who thinks things through, a person who is not distracted easily…wait a minute…you know, he also wrote: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Meh…what can I say, kids?

“This above all: to thine own self be true”

 

*My computer is a disorganized nightmare that MB is constantly trying to take in hand.  I think it is a deep secret fantasy of his to get my files organized.  Oooh la la!

*Special shout-out to my old friend Billy Shakes…thanks for letting me steal so many of your lines – your words ever delight my brain!*

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19 Responses to To Be or Not to…wait, what was that? I got bored.

  1. grenobloise says:

    Hahaha.. I can relate. I’m dancing in the kitchen to salsa music while doing the dishes (yes I can do both). I cannot watch most French TV shows… they can really go on forever. I recommend watching American series via the interwebs. 🙂 Sometimes Flo is explaining something to me in detail, like the sweet and patient Frenchman he is, and I change the subject b/c it’s too slow or say “Yeah I got it” ha. Sometimes he reminds me to slow it down. It’s what’s magical in Franco-American couples.. how we balance each other! Yin and yang.

    • breadispain says:

      HA – glad I’m not the only one! So maybe it is, indeed, a trait of Americans. Poor Flo – he and Xav should commiserate on this subject at some point. 🙂

      • grenobloise says:

        When I change the subject/etc I do in a sweet way of course. Lots of laughs and sarcasm. All this said.. I wouldn’t say Flo is a typical Frenchman. He has a New York side (he’s ‘so Brooklyn’, after all!). He gets all my jokes and he gets where I’m coming from! So important! Imagine being with a Frenchman who doesn’t understand our local culture nor speaks our language.. ? Would not be fun..

      • breadispain says:

        haha – he’s SO Brooklyn – love those NYE pics. Yeah, I think it is clutch that we all have some cultural overlap!

  2. punkaboo says:

    Good ol’ Billy Shakes!

  3. Canedolia says:

    What really annoys me is when they run two or three episodes of a series together to make it as long as a film so that it fits into the film-length evening TV slot, which can’t start before 9pm because before that everybody is of course lingering over dinner. If I wanted to watch something the length of a film, I’d watch a film. There’s a reason the episodes of a series are the length they are, and running three of them together defeats the point!

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune!

  4. gautier says:

    Je part du principe que ,vous connaissez la culture alimentaire Française .Une émission de télé Française sur la cuisine est une insulte ,a la base des repas.Que les gens font en général .Un bon repas et frais et pas cher .Demandez, Quand tu vas sur le marché .Allez A un vrai paysans .En principe il faut prendre des légumes non lavée .

  5. Brea B. says:

    I think I would enjoy seeming “high energy” in France. Here, I’m pretty low-energy. Or maybe I would just finally fit in. Hmm… In any case, I’ve been conditioning myself for years to sit for long stretches of time, and if that were combined with eating… Wow. Heaven.

  6. laura says:

    I love that you tagged/labelled/whatever-fancy-blog-termed your post “Kenneth Branagh.” Made me laugh 🙂

    Also I agree with you about Americans being more high energy and French people being more patient, but personally it’s something I like about being over here. People actually take time to enjoy their food etc. Although I, too, need to be pretty much constantly entertained! I wish I was better at just relaxing.

    • breadispain says:

      haha – yeah, judging from the responses I am starting to think there is definitely a cultural bent to it. I am liking a combination but at the end of the day I think I really need to constant stimulation. So sad! 🙂

  7. Theresa says:

    Not much to say on this (I think Germans are more similar to Americans, but then of course I’ve never lived in Germany so can’t relate first-hand), but I just wanted to chime in about how much I enjoy your posts!

  8. Crystal says:

    I tend to go to bed early (I’m not saying I’m old, just that I prefer to wake up early), and I often find myself debating whether to stay up and “watch the end of this show” or go to bed. But seriously…a show that started at 20h50 SHOULD NOT still be on by midnight. Wrap that shit up so some people can get to sleep!

  9. Pat in Toulouse says:

    I love reading your posts on the differences between the French and Americans. They give me a different perspective…
    Actually, my (very French) husband does not eat anything standing up. His explanation? “Only animals eat standing up. We are humans, we sit down to eat.” Yesterday I ate a döner walking up a street in Barcelona and was feeling guilty, thinking of him. 🙂
    As for watching three episodes of a show in a row, that’s fine for me – what is not is that only the first one is actually a new episode! The other two are reruns from years ago. Ils se moquent du monde!
    I hope you will enjoy Munich, it’s where I’m from. If you need advice on anything, feel free to ask.

    • breadispain says:

      Hello!! HA – I LOVE your husband’s “sitting” philosophy; I will have to share it with my husband – I am certain he will concur. And yes, now I feel guilty and weird every time I eat “on the run”. I’m being Frenchified! 🙂

      I am getting very excited for Munich – just going for a quick weekend jaunt…I believe there is a dark beer festival that weekend. Would love any restaurant recs that you might have!!

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