You want something done right, the saying goes, give it to a busy man. Or, as Manny explained in practically so many words, to a man whose busy wife tells him what to do and how to do it right.
“Love is part of my life and my balance,” Manny said the other day, moving me to tears.
“On a different subject, I’ve been with my wife for decades now and she is part of me. It’s very important for my personal balance to have somebody at home telling you the truth every day.”
Actually, he didn’t say “on a different subject”. I added it out of spite and sheer envy, for I too would love to have my wife make every decision for me. As it is, I have to wrack my brain every morning, figuring out what T-shirt to put on and what scurrilous, vituperative prose to write. Lucky Manny, I say.
The other day, for example, Brigitte came home from a fact-finding trip to Chanel in a foul mood. “You know what bordel happened to me?”
“I was walking down Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré with Marlene…”
“Don’t you know your own foutu cabinet? I thought I gave you ze assignment to learn ze name of every member for today’s class,” frowned Brigitte, fingering her trusted ruler. “Marlene Schiappa, that’s qui, you imbécile. Your Gender-Bender Minister? Ze one you always ogle?”
“Maman, I swear, je n’ai jamais…”
“Shut your gueule and listen, you petit con,” interrupted Brigitte. “As we turned the corner, some sale con de merde wolf-whistled at me!”
“At you, maman? Are you sure it wasn’t at Marlene?”
“Are you saying I’m too old to be wolf-whistled at, you espèce d’enculé?”
“But no, maman, you don’t look a day over sixty, especially when you wear zat…”
“Oh shut your gueule, Manny or I’ll mark you down for conduct. The question is, what are you going to do about such criminal acts? Do you realise that thousands of women are wolf-whistled at every day? And dieu only knows how many are asked for their phone numbers!”
“Mais maman, garçons will be garçons. When Marlene and – especially! – you walk down the street, men just can’t contain themselves…”
“Zat’s right, Manny,” said Brigitte, tapping her ruler against the edge of the table. “Zat’s why I want you to contain zem. Toi.”
“How can I do zat, maman?”
“Call yourself président de la republique, you espèce d’idiot? You do zat by making wolf-whistling a misdemeanour, and asking for a woman’s phone number a felony. Do you get zis or do you want me to paint you a tableau?”
“Oui, maman. Je comprend.”
The next day Manny, comely Marlene Schiappa by his side, declared that henceforth wolf-whistling and other public manifestations of unsolicited attention to women were outlawed. Having helped to strike that blow against sexploitation, Marlene went home to finish her next pornographic novel.
Manny, on the other hand, had to do the English homework Brigitte had given him. “We are Franks, n’est ce pas?” she had said. “And Anglais, c’est la lingua franca, but no? Zat means ze Franks must speak Anglais.”
She then wrote down a speech in English and told Manny there would be no supper until he learned it by heart for his CNN interview. The next day Manny was ready.
“Come back,” he addressed the thousands of French expats who had fled from France during his tenure as Finance Minister. “Ze spirit of conquest flows again.”
Manny didn’t specify which conquest he had in mind, leaving room for speculation. Did he mean the German conquest in 1940 and the subsequent occupation? If so, the parallel is apt, reflecting as it does the power structure within the EU.
No, surely not. Even if such a seditious thought had crossed his mind, Brigitte would have had none of that. Likening the EU to the Third Reich? C’est insupportable!
Manny was probably referring to the heroic liberation of France singlehandedly undertaken by Gen. Leclerc’s one armoured division in 1944, with some token support from the 70-odd divisions provided for imperialistic purposes by les Anglo-Saxons.
If some logical rigorist were to complain about the word ‘singlehandedly’ in the previous sentence, he’d only prove he knows nothing about a) France, b) the way history is taught there, c) Manny and, most important, d) his foster mother Brigitte.
The trouble is that by now Manny’s target audience might have been thoroughly brainwashed by their hosts les Anglo-Saxons. Their minds hopelessly corrupted, they might have understood Manny to mean that yet again Anglophone troops brandishing tanks and Hershey bars will roll into France to kick the Germans out.
It’s back to school, Manny, to learn the art of precise phrasing. Brigitte still has a lot of work to do.