Posted tagged ‘C’est normal’

“I’m still thinking about that pizza…”

July 19, 2011

“I’m still thinking about that pizza…”

These words were said in French, but that’s what they meant. A couple of weeks earlier a friend and I had split a margherita pizza at a small joint in Sete, France (known for its famous poet Paul Valery, pink cliffs and water jousting competitions).

Sete, France

The pizza, which we ate with a fork and a knife, was very good, but were it not for my friend, the thought of it would have vanished from my mind within 24 hours. What’s the point of remembering a pizza when its purpose has long been served?

So when my friend made the comment about remembering the pizza two weeks later, I was caught off guard. What a different way of looking at life, I thought. Not just drawing  quick pleasure from everything, and forgetting it, but actually making the pleasurable experience live on.

I liked that– it made me feel special to be in his presence (even if the American idea of “you’re special” is not really part of French culture). If he remembered a particular pizza with fondness weeks later, he’d surely keep me in his mind for a while, right? Yes, I was comparing myself with a pizza.

Another statement he would make that sort of changed my paradigm was “C’est normal,” which is “It’s normal” in English. He would do me a favor like bring me a bouquet of handpicked flowers, help me completely rearrange my messy bookshelves, or surprise me with some homemade oreillettes, and I would enthusiastically voice my appreciation. To this he’d say “C’est normal.”

This struck me as funny because no one says this in English in this context (at least no one I know). You use the word normal to describe a heartbeat, a person’s upbringing, and a person’s psychological state of mind, but not to justify a romantic act.

As different as I thought it was, the expression sort of grew on me¬† It’s like people are so used to doing kind things for the ones they love that they don’t think they’re doing anything special.


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