In this weekly series, the Queen of France, answers your pressing questions about love and life. To send your own question, email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail.com
I love my girlfriend, but her phone is coming between us. Her phone keeps her attention better than I can. The closest we get to conversation is an “mm-hmmm” while she thumbs away at her infernal Blackberry. I admit to a dollop of phone envy, since my cellular phone can barely keep a charge never mind accommodate a querty keyboard. What do I do?
Another advice columnist would say the Blackberry is scourge on society, a plague on socialization. But, really, if you’d wanted another advice columnist, you wouldn’t have come to me.
Surely, French conversation in my day was an art, one that didn’t transfer easily to abbreviations and emoticons. That said, I envy your girlfriend and would have jumped at the chance to seemingly be present at events in which I had no interest – public dinners, meetings with ambassadors – while stifling a giggle fielding scandalous texts from my incredibly witty friends. (“BIG SWORD = BIG FEET. LOL!” )
In other words, I would have used the device as your girlfriend, and most people do – as a way to keep a foot in whichever world I wished without ever committing to any. As a result, in your modern day, showing up is a largely negotiable term, where you poor people multi-task yourselves into so many places at once – home, friends houses, workplaces – you’re barely present even when you’re actually there.
I never had this problem — or this option. In my day, a girl voted with her feet. (It was delightfully old fashioned). There was no text or email, no video conference or Twitter, no Facebook statuses or FourSquare check-ins. I arrived or I did not. People knew immediately how committed I was to a meeting or an encounter by my mere existence since (I admit) I didn’t always make it to all of my obligations. I felt it was my right since a queen’s life is rarely her own, and chose my private life before my public duties. Unfortunately, many nobles were as offended by my choices as you are with your girlfriend and I began to lose my influence over my court. In my day, as in yours, there is no substitute to transporting one’s body and mind into another place in front of other people. Showing up always stands out. Unfortunately for me, so does blowing someone off.
However, I sense this is not a question of etiquette but a matter of the heart. Your darling girl has sent you a message off-line (a necessity, I gather, given your ancient telephone) that she has started to lose interest. Send her a text that says “I Miss U” — and tell her how you feel. If she still can’t put her phone down, you’ll need to find a young lady who gives you better reception.