Can you identify the two Americans?
I excited la Catho today via the front gate, where the city of Angers has thoughtfully placed a good number of benches, recycling dumpsters, and a public urinal for civilian necessities. Seated across from each other on two beaches were four American parents. How did I know? EASY. The women, though they weren't dressed in the typical "American tourist" stereotype, looked like maybe they were bank tellers or office ladies on break from somewhere in the South or Mid-West, and they also had bobs (not French) of lovely blonde hair (only bottle blondes here, and mostly in the younger set).
Their men folk, seated across from them, were wearing Dockers shorts and tee shirts (green and safety orange, respectively). Mr. Orange shirt had on some sort of hiking shoes, maybe Merrils, and Mr. Green shirt was wearing white athletic shoes with white high socks. They were the #1 and #2 most casual men I've seen in France.
Seeing the couples made me realize just what people mean when they talk about American garb making Americans stand out, and why people poke fun at us so much because of our white athletic shoes. But you know what? Je m'en fiche! I don't care! Lord bless them and their white socks and sensible shoes. Know why? Because they're comfortable. Why are they wearing tee shirts? Because it's hot out. Why the shoes? Because as tourists, they're going to walk a lot, and they don't want blisters to ruin their trip. Why the bank teller pants and coordinating top? Because they want to feel comfortable.
I understand that when you dress dressier all the time, that becomes normal, and maybe in a cultural way, it's equivalent to jeans and tennis shoes, but I just don't understand why French women aren't suffering from massive podiatrial issues, because the girls only wear flats (terrible, terrible for your feet) or high heels. Maybe it's why all the women over 60 have massive cankles (Megan and I have confirmed this). And when my feet are hot, I just want to wear flip-flops without feeling like a hobo.
So I salute you, American tourists of the world. Sure, you're making yourself more open to pick-pocketing and snickering, but you stand firm against the snobisme of society and you wear your New Balances with pride. So maybe your photos will look a little dated, at least you won't spend the evening with bags of frozen vegetables taped to your feet. (I do draw the line, however, at bucket hats and fanny packs. Some things just ought not be brought out in public.)
In a weird kind of way, you guys make me proud.