That's what I tell myself every time I see yet another book by an American or other anglophone about how hilarious it to live in France surrounded by those outrageously wacky French people!
By contrast, I doubt that there is even one single book about how humorous it is for an American to live in Estonia surrounded by those lovably quirky Estonians! Estonia even has a funny-sounding name. Say it a few times. Estonia. I could be writing that book! If only I hadn't followed every other pathetically unoriginal American on the planet to France, the country that comes up first when you google "travel -- been there, done that."
Still, even though it would be more original, I'm not sure that "Letters from a Broad" would be funnier if these missives were coming from Estonia instead of France. I can just picture myself spending the whole morning giggling while crafting the perfect line that is a subtle riff on some typical stereotype about Estonians. And then I picture my American audience reading it and going "Wha...? I don't get it..."
So I might as well have the serenity to accept the fact that my topic of choice has been done to death.
On the other hand, instead of thinking of "anglophone in France" humor as a tiny niche that's filled to overflowing, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see it as a vast and popular genre that has plenty of room for a range of obscure sub-niches. There's the funny gay guy, the Jewish family-man writing for the New Yorker, various wacky Brits...
So why not have the French lampooned by a light-hearted exmormon computer-programmer mom? That's got to be an obscure enough niche that not too many people will be fighting me for it.
I keep thinking it would be funny to repackage the highlights of this blog in book form and sell it as Letters from a Broad: a Year of Correspondence from France to Utah Valley (since the whole thing started as a column in the Utah Valley Monitor). But even though I already have a fabulous title worked out and everything, somehow I'm not sure it will fly.
Part of the problem is that deep down I think that Americans writing about living in France are pretentious. Yet for some reason I don't think that I am pretentious. (Stop guffawing out there, you know I can hear you!)
The other part of the problem is that when I spent a weekend in Paris recently, I made the mistake of picking up Adam Gopnik's literary anthology Americans in Paris. This book is full of fascinating insights about France from some really, really good writers! Yet I've checked the table of contents a bunch of times, and for some reason I can't seem to find myself listed. Oh well, at least I'm not pretentious. (Hey, I said cut the guffawing!)
What I can't figure out, though, is why there's no corresponding body of literature by French people recounting how funny it is to live in the U.S. That's surely as much of a fountain of entertaining wry observations as the cultural exchange in the other direction, isn't it?
I suggested to my husband that it would be great for him to write a book about his adventures in the US since he's a funny guy who likes to make fun of Americans, plus after it's a best seller he could follow it up with a sequel about all of the cultural mishaps and unexpected twists that result when you bring an American back home with you at the end of your travels.
He agreed that he would have plenty of material, but said that he doesn't have time to write the book because he's too busy doing math.
Never mind, maybe the French aren't funny after all.
I guess I'll have to look into getting myself that ticket to Estonia...