I majored in Anthropology and hope someday to put my training to use and write something insightful about French culture. Well, I'll work on that. In the meantime, I'll share this observation.
The French are not rude.
I was told with great earnestness that the French can be downright bellicose towards English-speakers. But I find that even when I (almost inevitably) fall into English, people are courteous and even warm.
Now I'm going to do something that's very "in" in Social Science, and explain why this observation can't be trusted as a general rule. My grounds for lacking objectivity are quite tangible and boil down to this:
I walk around town with this person strapped to my chest. Not only is it a baby, but it's a baby in a snail hat. Un petit escargot tres mignon! Just try to be rude to someone wearing a baby in snail hat. I dare you! Even cool and indifferent becomes a challenge when faced with a drooly smile and two pompoms.
It may just be that I'm a nursing mom high on oxytosin, but I think the baby-in-hat thing could bring about a new kind of diplomacy. International negotiations could begin with a presentation of representative infants wearing the cutest head gear their countries could devise. The attending politicians would have to greet the babies and say "isn't that adorable" before talks commenced. It would have the salutatory effect of a.) putting everyone in a positive frame of mind, and b.) reminding officials of their duty to the next generation. Think about it...
The hat, by the way, was my second knitting project ever. ("Aha," you say, "a crafting post cleverly disguised as cultural commentary!") It actually was meant to be a hat for Maria, to go with the knitted collar I made her, but I misjudged the number of stitches and it turned out more Loulou-sized. It's the simplest hat possible--you just need to know how to knit, purl, and make pompoms. You can find directions here.
Truth be told, I got awfully impatient while making it and it came out too small even for Louisa. It wouldn't fit over her ears. Then my mom came to the rescue and crocheted the headband and the little ear flaps. A knitter I am not.
So if any of you real knitters know of a good beginner beginner project that I could move on to (maybe something a little more interesting) I'd love to hear about it. If it can further international relations, that would be a plus.