from July 15, 2004
Immediately upon landing at de Gaulle Airport, the brain burnout symptoms my entourage and I had suffered were ameliorated. Though it was an overnight flight, we were not the worse for it, for the French plane we took came equipped with the morgue-like vaults I have recently invented. (See my Archive, May 15, 2004.) In a word, we slept like the dead.
Our limousine took us directly to the Hôtel sur la Rive Gauche. On the way, my newly-awakened brain recalled that I had had my aforementioned invention patented and that I was a victim of patent infringement. I made a mental note that, upon my return to America, I should call my lawyer.
Soon after my valet had deposited my extensive luggage in appropriate places and I had placed a substantial tip in his beggarly hand, all the while engaging in French formal banter, I sat on the side of my luxurious bed, admiring the tapestries. My brain entered the teeming mode. Here, I thought, I am in a parfait position to play a role to which I am not ordinarily accustomed, that of ambassadeur.
On a whim, I called the office of the President of France. A sleepy voice answered. I gave my name and requested a meeting with le Président. Yes, le Président would see me: he was acquainted with my work and found it admirable—perhaps this evening, in private chambers? Oui, that would be grand.
I was ushered into M. Chirac’s chambers at precisely 9 o’clock. Soon afterwards Jack, as he insisted I call him, arrived.
He was dressed for the occasion in the regalia of a faux West Texas cowboy: armadillo boots, Levis, chaps, Western shirt, turquoise-clasped string tie, and ten-gallon hat. A holster embedded with plastic bullets graced his pudgy hips; a plastic replica of a Colt .45 pistol was carefully stuffed inside its temporary parking garage.
“Monsieur . . ,” I began.
“No French, podnah,” he interrupted, affecting a West Texas drawl.
And so we conversed that evening in pidgin drawl. This, over barbequed ribs and many bottles of amber Dos Equis, the beer that made Mexico famous.
I had come to discuss the diplomatic differences between France and America, but this topic did not appear to capture his underestimated imagination. His secret ambition, he confided to me, was the Americanization of France, or at least of Paris and environs. Theme parks were a special interest. Did I have any ideas for one?
I suggested several. One based on the American Civil War. Another based on Davy Crocket and the Alamo. A third dedicated to the settling of the West and the battles between cowboys and Indians.
Did I think it possible to combine these fine ideas into one grand theme?
“I would have to give it fifteen minutes of intense thought,” I replied in my newly-acquired drawl, mixed as it was with the trace of state-of-the-art Irish brogue.
“What le hell,” he said. “Ah’ll outsource this baby, if y’all don’t donné un damn.”
I replied that I would be perfectly happy to sketch the outlines of this excellent project.
On the way back to my lodgings in the SUV my gracious host had provided, I made a mental note that upon my return to America, I would not call my lawyer.