No matter how long you are staying in New York, one thing you can be sure of is that you will run into a lot of French people. Tourists, students, interns, expats…But it’s the type that my friends and I like to call the Paris-Yorker that stands out the most.
The Paris-Yorker is different from your average Frenchy in New York. He is not a nostalgic character giving into overpriced cheese and baguette, desperately trying to recreate an approximate version of France. No, The Paris-Yorker has accepted the fact that if a mediocre glass of wine is going to cost as much as a decent cocktail in New York, then he may as well order a Manhattan on the rocks!
If you are new to the City, or simply unfamiliar with its French invaders, here are three signs that you are in the presence of a Paris-Yorker:
As soon as you start a conversation with a Paris-Yorker, you will think his English is good, but doesn’t sound quite like English. Hang out for a few more minutes, and you will realize his French is the same way. Expect the Paris-Yorker to place words like: “cliché, swag, blasé, amazing, déjà vu or mind-blowing” in the same sentence. Don’t get it twisted; Frenglish is not just a hybrid dialect that serves as the Paris-Yorker’s official language. It’s a response to his daily frustrations. Because you see, French language doesn’t convey awesomeness like American expressions do, but English falls short of expressing life’s tribulations. Frenglish is necessary for the survival and emotional well-being of the Paris-Yorker species.
Or at least doesn’t admit it! The Paris-Yorker takes pride in not being a tourist in New York. Actually, when he hears a French visitor struggling to ask his way in English, The Paris-Yorker will pretend not to understand and walk in the opposite direction instead of helping. That’s why he spends most of his time in Brooklyn, especially in the authentic and preserved neighborhood of Williamsburg – yes, the Paris-Yorker is a few years behind on the whole gentrification concept. If he wants to hang out with his French friends, he will make sure to throw a rooftop party and serve drinks in red plastic cups. But when meeting with his American homies, the Paris-Yorker will suggest an up and coming Independent French Film Festival. And when lonely, he will eat Cronuts until he drops. Here lays the whole paradox of the Paris-Yorker: he will claim his Frenchness at any given opportunity, but tell him he’s “so French” and you will regret it!
You probably already figured that out by now: the Paris-Yorker is slightly bipolar. He complains about the American Health Care, absence of vacations, and bad reality TV. But in France, he can’t stand people’s lack of motivation, naysayer mentality, and lame pop culture. The Paris-Yorker feels home everywhere, but gets home sick just as easily. He has the best of both worlds, but never all at once. He is addicted to the constant excitement that New York offers but can’t breathe without a dose of French art de vivre. In other words, The Paris-Yorker wants his cupcake and eat it too but knows that it ain’t that easy because…c’est la vie !
Thanks to my lovely Paris-Yorkers, Wissam and Nora, for the inspiration!