The Eiffel Tower and the Garden Gnome

I’ve been to Paris a few times in the course of my life. But until recently, in 2011, I had never gone to any trouble to see the Eiffel Tower. I just had no interest in it. That is, until I travelled there with my then wife. She wanted to see it, so I tagged along.

Of course, she, like many other people, found it odd that I had been to Paris so many times and had not seen the Eiffel Tower, but again, like many other people, she just found it odd. And since I am often classified as being a bit odd anyway she, like any number of people I know, never bothered to ask why. “That’s just the way he is.”

But today, someone actually asked me what it was about the Eiffel Tower that bothered me, if anything. And if I was not bothered about it, then why did I have so little interest in it.

So, I had to ask my self why, exactly? What is it about that tower that leaves you cold? And my answer came out, as it often does, prefaced with a question.

“Do you know those small figures of animals and gnomes people put in thier gardens? The Eiffel Tower is like that. A common garden ornament that serves no meaningful function, but which the owner places there in order to mark our their ‘individuality’.”

It is not terribly meaningful or important. It is something that you have to accept and mutter admiring words about, so as not to offend the host.

At the same time, I have the sneaky feeling that most Parisians aren’t that bothered by the tower either. They just don’t say it so as not to offend admiring foreigners.

Go figure.