Sunday, October 01, 2006

Won't you be my neighbor?

During the summer, we got a new neighbor. I recall running into him in the foyer for the first time in June, I think, said the usual "bonjour" and he explained that he was a new resident. We chatted for a few more seconds -- which floor are you on, etc. -- and then I introduced myself. Big faux-pas. In France, you never give your name out to a stranger. Even if he lives in your building and might run into you everyday. (I don't know the names of most of the people who live in the building and they don't know who I am either.) So, there was a big uncomfortable pause after my introduction. Errr...uhhhh...he left me hanging. So I asked for his name just to balance things out and then we went our separate ways. Funny, I think I've only seen him once since our first strange meeting.

My other neighbors. There's an elderly couple on the fifth floor -- they're the ones who keep using the elevator and get trapped in there when it breaks down (at least 2-3 times a year?). There's a new family with an adorable baby. There's a family with two older children -- I see the girl all the time picking up baguettes for her family on Sunday morning. Her father I have only seen once. I don't think I've ever seen her mom. On the third floor you'll find our friends: French husband and Italian wife. Super-friendly. And on the second floor is a slender man with a boyish face and nice smile, often dressed in his slick grey suit. His current girlfriend is blond and super-thin. I run into her a lot in the stairwell and can always hear her comings and goings because she has a tiny jingle-bell on her keychain which used to make Leo think there was another dog in the "batiment." I spotted her in my BodyPump class this weekend and she was hardly lifting any weight. Everyone else had at least two kilos per side. I assume she doesn't want to add any muscle mass to that nearly stick figure of hers. Maybe she's a model.

Everyone says "bonjour" to one another, but I haven't witnessed a whole lot of conversation among neighbors. Our Italian friend, though, is so bubbly and is the only one I've seen carrying on a conversation with another resident.

Oh, I forgot about the dentist who lives across from me on the same floor. He is very formal and says, "Bonjour, Madame," with never a smile. Maybe his teeth are bad. :)


Samantha said...

This is so true - after three years in the same building, we haven't met any of our neighbors, where as in the US, we knew all of them and didn't hesitate to knock on their door to borrow a cup of sugar.

We share our hallway with two other apartments, and I've never seen the occupants. In all that time. I hear them coming and going, but we never happen to be in the hall at the same time, which I find odd.

Caroline Jou Armitage said...

In the last couple weeks, I've been running into the girlfriend of the young man in my building quite a bit. At the gym, at the store. And yet, when she sees me in the foyer of the building, she doesn't say anything more than "Bonjour." I'll try to break the ice sometime and be really American.