Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Culture of "Draguer"

I just had the best night ever on Friday. Actually, the whole day pretty much rocked, and it culminated in a night of fascinating conversation that shed some light on the culture of draguer – refer to this post for a good example of what that means.

After having a supersatisfying meal at McDonalds right beside the Mediterranean, I went Christmas shopping in Vieux Nice and became very, very broke. Because I was such an efficient shopper, I was done a lot sooner than I'd anticipated, so I went home to chill before buying two yule logs and heading over to the dinner party at the beautiful villa I stayed at when I first got here.

I was excited to see my friends and to have another cooked meal - I'd been eating like an anorexic monkey for over a week because my kitchen sink is plugged and I refuse to cook if I can't do my dishes. The evening began with four of us girls, then the birthday boy (whose room I'd stayed in) arrived with his friend, and then one of the girls' boyfriend joined us from Italy. We talked about everything under the sun, there was often four different languages going at the table (so cool!), and I'm learning to use alcohol like a European.

Let me explain. At school in Canada, nine times out of ten, we drink to get plastered and act like a fool, often in public places, like bars and clubs. Here in Europe, there are certainly people who do that, but with the people I've met, the whole point is the conversation and enjoyment of the beverage. Like, we have a nice wine with dinner, or we have a good beer at a terrasse, and we're there to hang out and talk. And well, if or when the alcohol takes effect, we shed our inhibitions a bit and it makes the conversation more interesting, but no one gets completely sloshed. That's considered stupid and of poor taste. I really enjoy and respect that.

So a big theme of the evening was cultural differences (for example, Birthday Boy thinks it's sexy when North American girls pronounce the word "beaucoup" with their anglo accents) and the topic rolled around to the subject of draguer.

"You don't know what that is?" asked the Birthday Boy (BB).


"It's when...when you see a beautiful girl, for example-"

"Or just an interesting girl." interjected his friend.

"-and you take the time to talk to her, you ask her how her day was, perhaps pay her a compliment..."

You mean you bother her?

"No! That's just- You see? That's exactly it. American girls are terrified of men." said BB. (You have to pardon them - most Europeans refer to all North Americans as "Americans," even Canadians, who they generally like better.)

I was quick to defend my fellow Maple Leafettes - I only speak for Canadians. We're not terrified of men, but it's weird and creepy for people you don't know to approach you randomly on the street to tell you you're beautiful. What are their ulterior motives?

Apparently, when European guys approach you on the street and try to chat you up, they're not purposely trying to creep you out but they think that they're showing appreciation for your presence, or something. This reminded me of a discussion we had about gender roles in my 18th century French literature class, where our teacher/co-ordinator (who knows BB incidentally, and has invited him to take us on outings in the area, which he's seriously considering doing next semester) that this practise of draguer probably stems from some archaic chivalrous code, where men think it's their duty and take it upon themselves to let the ladies know that they are desirable.

I still think it's kind of weird, especially for young boys to be doing it too, but I guess I can better understand why. But I also think that superficiality plays a part in this. I haven't been interested in any approachers so far, but if Gabriel Aubry or Josh Holloway were to come up to me to ask me how my day was or to tell me how beautiful I am, you bet your Christmas presents I'd be giving them the time of day!


Sabrina said...

I think I would love Europe! People (read: strangers) stop to talk to me about the most random things almost anytime I go out in public in my own, and I think it's kinds cool, in a way, but it's not, I guess "normal" here. I love the idea of people doing it on purpose (esp. a little bit of ego-rubbing)

Waheeda said...

Dude I wish I had known this last year...less French boys would have felt my wrath lol.

Lesley said...

another fabulous entry (and yes, i did read the whole entry on your blog).
i also have yet to be interested in one of my approachers.. it never is the ones you desire is it??
oh well, an entire semester left to go! lol maybe we'll get lucky :P

Emily said...

Read the whole thing ( as I often do with your posts, Christine) and maybe the reason we "American" girls are so afraid of Europeean men trying to pick us up is because they do it so disgustingly! Like Lesley said, it's most often the snarling, can't raise their eyes above your breasts, slicked-back hair men that come talk to me at least. They wait until it's dark and you are maybe a little drunk (oh how charming!), and I don't know if you guys have experienced this, but quite a few times I have been walking and a man who is walking toward me will just walk RIGHT up to me and like stand in my path and look at me so I have to move out of the way. Oh please, take me now, what a turn on! You said it Les - the ones you want are the ones who don't look twice and the ones you DON'T want come on full force... but maybe thats the reason we DON'T want them eh?

Waheeda said...

I agree with Emily. It's not flattering when it's in the dark and you're alone. lol

Emily said...

hahah they approach you in a dark alley with a dirty grin, terrible english and a peg leg telling you "your eyes are beautiful" over and over and expect you not to be afraid!!