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More about the French

May 22, 2009|By JEANNE B. JACOBS

Scripps Howard News (The Herald Mail, May 8) painted a somewhat incomplete and uneven picture of how the French are ahead of us.

Yes, they spend more time eating and drinking than we do. But what they eat, slowly, is healthy, tasty and consumed in small quantities with no "noshing" (a good Jewish word meaning "snacking") between meals. Drinking needs clarification. No hard liquor, no beer at mealtimes, no happy hour. Wine is drunk by the whole family including children (watered down for them) for dinner. Consequence? Why wait impatiently until you are 21 to get dead drunk in a college dorm? You know what alcohol tastes like and you can decide whether to drink or not. I do not. I do not like the taste. When I did put water in a glass of aged Chateauneuf du Pape, my father said, enough for you. A more important result of the early drinking custom is that you do not have teenagers driving drunk. Of course French teenagers cannot drive until they are 18 and no youth, unless he or she comes from a wealthy family, has his or her own car. Public transportation is good and the young choose to go out in groups.

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Yes, the French have more vacation time than we have and they usually take their time off starting Aug. 1. Do not find yourself on the auto route going south toward the Riviera, a favorite destination, on that day.

All the Parisians are behind you or ahead of you, except for the one, lone baker by district who stays open to supply the tourists lucky enough to visit a quiet Paris, but who can also enjoy the crusty baguettes you can only find here at the Safron bakery.

Two other facts Scripps Howard has missed in order to catch up with the French. One is safety. No guns are allowed except for hunting. No "Saturday night specials." Consequence? No multiple-family tragedy as in Middletown, or gang murders on the city streets - some 11 youngsters have been gunned down in Chicago in the last seven weeks.

Finally, education. You would never see the type of language one reads in Mail Call. A French student is held back until he/she attains the level of that particular class. At no time is he told that "learning is fun." A French student cannot graduate from high school and enter the university without taking and passing the Baccalaureate, an exam with both a written and an oral part, given over two years, at the end of the 11th and the 12th grades. There is no need for "remedial medial French" in the freshman class at the Sorbonne.

Just in passing: You can have the home visit of the doctor of your choice and the government insurance covers every French citizen. Finally, a woman does not have to depend on Congress or the courts to have an abortion. They are legal (though France has always been called "The eldest daughter of the Church").

I did not list the many things the French do not have, that make so many foreigners choose the United States as their country. Those new citizens will carry on the better ways of their nation of origin while scrupulously observing the laws of their new country.

By the way, we are marking the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, when the American GI's had shown us what free men did to maintain that freedom.

Jeanne B. Jacobs is a resident of Hagerstown.

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