Paris syndrome in America

I read somewhere that Paris, France welcomes more that forty million visitors per year.

Forty million.

Forty million people attracted by the Parisian mystique, composed of food, fashion, architecture and history.

Out of those forty million, there are 12 people who don’t like it.


Twelve Japanese tourists, on average, every year suffer the devastating blow of disappointment known as the “Paris Syndrome.”

These poor, poor people save, plan and prepare for their trip to Paris. They dream about frolicking down the streets of the Old World and coming face to face with Tour Eiffel and with the romantic accordion music blaring from every radio in every café. They have studied key phrases in the French language and have pin pointed all the major tourist sites they will photograph.

And then it happens.

The cab driver yells at them, the waiter purposely ignores them, and the person they’ve asked to take their picture, runs off with their camera. The shock and disappointment  is so much for them that they find themselves at a loss. For some, the sadness is so great that they are sent back to Japan, escorted and supervised by medical staff. Others get talked off the ledge by a helpful counselor from the 24-hour crisis hotline, sponsored by the Japanese embassy.

This is not a joke. This is very real. And very sad.

Can you imagine that Japanese tourist standing in the middle of the Champs Elysees with his eyes searching the heavens in complete disbelief?

Of course. That drama takes place in our lives quite often. That human story of tragedy and despair of the people we grow close to and the not knowing if the result from the unscripted outcome will be a positive one.

We all know the story way too well, because it is always the same:

All your life, dreaming of a moment, convinced of an outcome and then — you go on American Idol and you are told you can’t sing.

So sad.

Too sad, actually. And we, as Americans, don’t like to cry. No. We certainly don’t like sad stories. We can’t just have people escorted away with rejection. No, we want to make them feel like we accept them, but really, deep down inside, reject them. Only, we don’t tell them. Instead, we include them.  Allow them to taste the fame they would’ve had if they were just a little more talented.

And then we walk away. Never looking back.

So, then, when we recognize them at the grocery store, at the mall or at the therapist’s office, we can look at them with a pity face and think, yeah, we always knew you wouldn’t really make it.

So you see, in many ways we are much more compassionate than the French.

Published by Mari

I was born with a widow's peak and a thick accent. I majored in English as a second language. I work ( and travel ( and sometimes do both.

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