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Alkiviades Profile
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The French Ass and the American Bush


It's about a year after the WTC tragedy and some time before the second (ongoing) war in Iraq. You are on an Air France flight destined for Greece, but first you must change over in Paris. By your best estimate,a million firefly-thoughts are flying about the inside of that madness you call a mind. All you want to do is dive into the NY Times, maybe sleep a little. It is an 8 hour flight.

 Then, suddenly, you are ambushed by Frenchy.

"Ahh, American, eh? President George Bush, ah? Ha ha...."

Without saying anything, the seemingly mild-mannered ass said it all. The laugh at the end was an exclamation point. Oh, sure, it may READ like a harmless statement, but if you were there to FEEL the way he said it.... The stereotype of the arrogant, smug Frenchman? This guy must have boarded the plane with the sole purpose of proving it out. He seems like he should know better. About 40 years of age, The Ass should know better than to play his game. The Ass has a look of everlasting calm on his face that is in direct contradiction to the firestorm his mouth seeks to start. I wonder if France has a Ministry where they train and maintain this special breed? I could have laughed it off, but I must have forgotten my sense of humor at check-in. Or maybe the overzealous zombie robot at airport security frisked it out of me. Either way....

"Actually, I don't consider myself a citizen of any country. I believe in a persons right to self-determination. In fa-", but Frenchy doesn't want to hear what I have to say. No, he wants to bait an honest to goodness "ugly American" response out of me, not the open-minded, half-baked theory I have to offer.

So The Ass continued on, being obnoxious and rude, but in a subtle way. The Ass was so subtle, in fact, that if I had gotten out of my seat and shoved my newspaper down his throat (an idea I entertained) the rest of the passengers may have though my actions unprovoked. So, I sat tight, feigning sleep, but he went on. The Ass even tried to get the (French) stewardess involved. She smiled politely and continued on down the aisle.The Ass went on, his low-creeping murmur becoming white-moise. Bush this, Bush that.... I started counting Bushes and I slipped off to sleep.....

......I dreamt that I had snuck down to the cargo-hold and that the Polite Stewardess was waiting there, holding out a parachute. She said that she admired my bravery and that, as a reward, she would allow me this parachute as means of escape. Also, she gave me a bottle of French wine and some cheese, brie. Prior to jumping, I looked deep in to those French eyes of hers, projecting my best "sexy boy" look, and said "Thanks, doll". That was as American a dream as one can have, I think. Take what you can and head for the exits......

I was above and beyond relieved when the plane landed at De Gaulle Airport in Paris. They were playing this really surreal space music over the speakers that must have been subliminal messages of some sort. I was in Euope. Yep, couple hours wandering around in all this, letting it seep beneath my skin...this was just what the doctor ordered. My brief encounter with The Ass had frustrated me to no end. I hate it when someone is all presumptive. If you back an animal into the corner, what do you expect him to do?

So I went to get some food at the nearest kiosk, and as I ordered in English, the cashier shook his head.

 "I do not speak English", he said. In PERFECT English!

 "Ok. Greek? Huh? Do you know Greek?' and I said it in a really mean way.

He was taken aback. Then he smiled, and said (again, in perfect English) " I am sorry, I thought you were American. You know...President George Bush? HAHA"

I laughed as well. If you think about it, it IS a funny thing to hear.


Last edited by Alkiviades, Aug/14/2011, 1:23 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: The French Ass and the American Bush


hi Alkiviades,

I like this field note. Being American is complicated, very complicated.

My only nit is the part that starts, "It is then that I realize what is happening," and ends with, "it does simplify things./At least in the beginning."

That part struck me heavy-handed and preachy/didactic. Let the reader glean the story's meaning. My two cents.

Chris

Yikes. I just realized that this is posted in field notes and maybe you don't want it critiqued (?) If that's the case, let me know. My bad.

Last edited by Christine98, Aug/14/2011, 1:02 pm
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Katlin Profile
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Re: The French Ass and the American Bush


More good stuff, Alkiviades. I was hooked by the first paragraph. This made me laugh throughout. Inspite of myself? Yeah, maybe, but with/despite my freedom fries and lips s(m)eared with ketchup, not mayo, the humor in this type of political piece appeals to me.

I hate to admit it, but the exact timeline btweem the WTC tragedy and the second war in Iraq had become fuzzy in my mini-lighted mind. A bit of googling took me here:

http://thinkprogress.org/report/iraq-timeline/

where "Rick Perry's Record" caught my eye, and I subsequently discovered Glenn Beck even described Perry as a man he was so enamored with that he wanted to “French kiss.”

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/10/241830/top-10-thing-texas-gov-rick-perry/

"Oh là là," says an American who has never been to Paris.

Aug/14/2011, 1:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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I am so loving this field note. We all bring to the forum our own ideas of what makes a field note a field note. This is precisely one of the possibilities I had in mind when making a space for the journalistic reporting. I am not sure I could do without this forum. It absolutely lets us go both expansive and lyrical, lyrical in the sense of a lyrical (I/Thou) essay.

So here's what I got by way of a response. Many years ago I made an epigram like poem. Poem long since deposited in the morgue file. Not really good enough to justify the pulp. From memory it goes this way:

To my European friend
who looks down on me when
he thinks I can't see:

when you consider it
you're too old to remember,
I'm too young to agree.

So yeah. I know well the kind of European, not just French, hautiness that incited your essay. Had I been you I might have been impolite enough to ask my interlocutor his opinion about Vichy France sending thousands of Jews, gypsies, polios, and the mentally retarded on trains bound for the gas chambers, the senseless slaughter at Verdun, the even more senseless slaughter at Waterloo. Then, of course, there is France's last vain attempt to keep a colonial power in both Alegeria and Vietnam. etc, etc, etc.

I think most of all I respond to the essay's voice. Its tone. Still getting to know you, Alkiviades. You strike as that rare individual, a writer with the instinct of a writer. Consider getting this ino a magazine or an e-zine.

Tere
Aug/14/2011, 3:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: The French Ass and the American Bush


Yes, complicated, very complicated being an American, a Frenchman, a citizen, a person.

American to Frenchman: Do you speak German? You're welcome.

Frenchman to America: Do you sing "God Save the Queen?" You're welcome.

Not all Frechmen are Lafayette; not all Americans are George Washington. George Washington isn't George Washington to the Brits. And Lafayette?

(Sorry for the digression. I'm fresh from a trip to Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown and Gettysburg where I had the opportunity to think often about Congress and the Tea Partiers and not only because the timeframe of my visit corresponded with the passage of debt ceiling bill and S & P downgrade.)

The ugly American, haughty European, global citizen, self-determined person of the world until--

Back to your piece, A. I have been looking for the part Chris thought preachy. Did you delete it?





Last edited by Katlin, Aug/15/2011, 8:43 am
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Alkiviades Profile
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Re: The French Ass and the American Bush


Yes, I did. I should have noted it. Chris was right on. I have a lot to learn and I love the technical support offered on this board.

That timeline you mention is fuzzy for me as well. I think it is for many of us. Our short-memory seems to be a common achilles-heel of our species, at least in contemporary times. I am pretty sure it was different in ancient times.So sad.

Kat, that Rick Perry link was nice. I cannot help but imagine how "Tex would respond to a french-kiss. emoticon

alkiviades
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