I might sound presumptuous, but I consider myself a rather congenial fellow… and generally speaking, I never refuse a friendship offer.

Eustache Le Sueur – A Gathering of Friends

From time to time, while slumming on Facebook, I get a “new friend request”. Usually, I take a quick look at the requestor’s homepage and if that person does not look like a serial killer, I generally accede to his/her demand.

Recently I received such a request from an attractive young woman. The message was in French and it piqued my interest. So after looking at the scant details of her homepage, I agreed to become “friend” with her.

Almost immediately I received another message from her inquiring in French “how I was doing?”

Two things struck me about this note. The first was that this young person whom I didn’t know, addressed me in a very informal manner. She used “tutoiement” (addressing me with the intimate “tu” form) and it bothered me a little.

English speaking people might not understand the distinction between “tutoiement” (the intimate form) and “vouvoiement” (formal form) but it is a sensitive matter.

“I admit to feeling, since then, an aversion to familiarity; originally, it must translate a confident intimacy, but if the people who “tutoie” are not intimate, it suddenly takes on an opposite meaning, it is the expression of rudeness, so that the world where the familiarity is common usage is not a world of general friendship, but a world of omnipresent disrespect.” Milan Kundera

The second thing was that the message was rife with spelling errors. For me, these two mistakes are “cardinal sins.”

Your initial friendship request is like applying for a job, and if you are serious about that position, you try to avoid any obvious “faux pas”. I am not a snob, but I still insist on elementary manners from the people who want to befriend me.
I accept warts and all from the people I have known for a long time, but I do not accept it from strangers.

And finally, what prompted this young woman to contact me? Do I project the image of a “chick magnet”? Maybe… but I cannot help it. Or is she a “croqueuse de diamants” (gold digger)? Sorry, I have very few of those left.

To make a long story short, I “unfriended” my overly eager groupie. It is better to have fewer friends than a lot of fake friends.


“God said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But, God or not, I hate to be addresses as “tu..” Pierre Desproges

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