What A French Girl Taught Tab Hunter About Love?
“All I have to do is look into her eyes and she knows what I’m thinking,” Tab Hunter said. There was a hint of amazement on his tanned face.
“I’ve been making love to Etchika for two weeks, every day. But conversation is pretty difficult between us. I speak very little French. She speaks very little English. But we found that the language barrier won’t stop a guy and a gal from having fun.
“Yet every time I asked her for a real date she was busy studying English. Three days ago, however, I got a little inside information. Yesterday was her birthday. So I said, ‘Etchika, you are going out wizz me? Non? Vous étes vingt-trois aujord’hui.’ She laughed at my fractured French which tried to say be you are twenty-three today. But this time she said, ‘Oui, Tab, oui.’
“Well, when I arrived last night she opened the door, looked very surprised for a moment or two and then said, ‘Bon, Tab, bon. For a mo-ment I deed not re-cog-nize you. For zhee firs’ time I see you wizz clothes.’
“It’s a good thing there weren’t any gossip columnists around to hear that!” Tab said shaking his head. “I don’t know what they would have made of it.
“The explanation is very simple. For the last four days Etchika and I have been playing a long love scene together in Lafayette Escadrille. The action takes place in the Parisian apartment of the girl played by Etchika, and all of the time I’ve been bare to the waist.”
While Tab was talking, Etchika had finished her eggs and was sipping coffee. Her young eyes watched Tab as though she were a little hypnotized by his voice and his words. I asked her what impressed her about American girls.
“Oh, American women are really and truly American. They have such a strong spirit of independence. A Frenchman would be afraid of most American girls. She would stand up to him and he would not like that very much. In my country the man must not only be the boss, but the woman must let her man know she accepts his rulership.
“In France, contrary to what most Americans think, the man is not so interested in a woman’s physical beauty. He wants something deeper. A feminine elegance and particularly, good taste. A woman of good taste is a very special thing to a Frenchman. And he wants faithfulness. All these are most important to him. No Frenchman would ever marry, as I’ve heard some American men do, for beauty alone. He would be considered very weak as a man and his friends would say, ‘Poor Pierre! He is married to a statue.’
“Now that brings up a point,” said Tab, “which I think a lot of American women forget. The qualities that attract a man are not the ones that hold him. Before marriage, for instance, most American men are impressed by a girl’s measurements in those three important places. But I think American girls are becoming more and more conscious of the fact that to hold a man they must bring new qualities to the surface once a guy has shown interest in her. She’s beginning to realize that she can’t rely entirely on her looks. To be the woman a man can love she’s got to show simplicity, frankness and a lot of—I’m not sure I know how to put this—but I mean a special kind of intimate gaiety.”
What the French women have
When Tab was asked what he thought was the one most important thing his knowing Etchika had taught him about French girls, he had the answer.
“A wonderful philosophy that American men would love to see in American women,” Tab replied. “It is this: The French girls make it a rule that always, in the presence of a man, her personality says, not in words, but in spirit, ‘I will never let you forget that I am a woman and you are a man. And I love men.’ I think too many American girls show only a part of that spirit.”
“Yes,” Etchika commented, “that is another thing I notice. American men seem to be a little afraid of their American girls. Last night when we are at the night club I saw a woman do something that a French woman would never do.
“She embarrassed her escort by talking very loudly and attracting much attention. Her date had a very red face, but he tried to laugh it off. In France the man would have left with the girl immediately and taken her home. And he would not have dated her again, to be sure.”
“Speaking of last night reminds me,” Tab said. “Etchika and I were sitting at a table in the CRESCENDO ROOM. We went to see Frances Faye. Somehow, when we sat down—because there were three other couples with us—Etchika and I got separated. She was way across the table. After Frances Faye sang I thought I’d like to get some air and show Etchika the terrific view of Los Angeles you get from the patio of the club. And as I thought about it I looked into Eitchika’s eyes. She smiled, nodded her head and said something to one of the girls at our table who spoke French and English. Then the girl turned to me and said, ‘Well, Tab, Etchika says you’re going out on the patio for a little while. Watch out for the crazy moon!’ I was so surprised I almost forgot to stand up. Somehow Etchika could read my mind.”
An embarrassed Tab
“And sometimes, Monsieur Huniter,” Etehika said, with a twinkle of mischief in her all-knowing eyes, “it ees not so good that I know what you are theenking.”
Tab laughed and got a little red around his cheeks and Adam’s apple.
“Later I mentioned Etchika’s mind reading act to her and she was surprised that I was surprised. She said it was very natural among French girls to have little rapports with men they date.
“Also I was amazed at how well she danced to American music.”
Etchika brightened at the word dance.
Tab you make me dance very well. What else could I do? You were holding me very tight, but it was a nice tight.”
Tab grinned at her. “Etchika, ma cheree, it was just a very firm squeeze!”
“Yes,” replied Etchika laughing, “but until this morning I am still trying to recover my breath.”
And in Etchika’s gay smile it was easy to see why Warner Bros. had the young actress fly 5,000 miles from France to star in a picture.
There was little doubt about it. Etchika was different. For instance, when asked what the first thing was that she noticed about American men, Etchika broke into a big, wide smile. “They are all so big, so strong and so handsome. I can see why American girls want to be beautiful for them. And I think they are worth it.”
. . . The men on the staff of MODERN SCREEN wish to add the following P.S. Though Tab may have learned something about love from Etchika, the American girls we know have taught us a thing or two, also . . .
—BY LOU LARKIN
Tab and Etchika will soon be in the Warner Bros. film Lafayette Escadrille.
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE MARCH 1957