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Postcards from Paris


France doesn't hold the European record for torture, ahead of weakling Turkey, for nothing, and I think it fair to say that I've taught Carla everything she knows about men. Carla's first boyfriend was my second husband's son, with whom she had a child, then dumped him (the child) for his son, i.e., my second husband's grandson, who was fourteen at the time. Carla enjoys males who are old enough to be either her grandfather or her grandson, because they're just so much easier to hurt. When Carla poured her heart out to me not long ago, and said "Once Eric Clapton had taught me all three chords, I started cheating on him just to thank him, then he told me he loved me more than anything on earth, so I left him for Mick Jagger because I wanted Mick to cheat on Jerry Hall just to hurt their children," I told her how proud I was of her because she was finally becoming what every woman in the world aspires to be, which is French, just as every country aspires to be France, the land of perfume and the Marquis de Sade. Being French means above all sharing French values, the love of justice and truth and beauty and beautiful things, which is why in France we do not allow handicapped children in our schools and never will.

But after her high profile flings with those two mega-stars, and then her crowning achievement so far-bagging, if briefly, The Donald (neither of us counts the one-night stand with Kevin Costner as a "relationship"), I had been worried about her downward spiral with mediocrities and creeps of the fourth magnitude like Louis Bertignac, a singer who looks like a cross between Jagger and Nosferatu and some throwaway philosopher with whom Carla was living and with whose son she had a child, and even, at her lowest point, when she had become a real bottom feeder and was dating lawyers, a serial killer and former French Prime Minister named Laurent Fabius, a choice she defended to me testily but lamely by saying "Serial killers don't take you to the Sentier garment district in Paris and get you designer wear wholesale and load Vista Pro onto your computer for free and teach you how to do Excel on a private jet!" True, President of France isn't as good as a Stone or God or The Donald, but it's better than the series of losers her vacation in Man Hell had taken her through, although now that I think of it Nicolas is a lawyer, too.

I knew things were getting really serious when Carla called me from Egypt and said: "Loulou, It's just so hard to put into words, but when I am in Nicolas' arms, I feel so protected. Even though Nicolas is physically small, he manages to be really and truly frightening. Don't you think Nicolas would just scare the shit out of, say, O.J. in a staring contest because of the way that sort of global Napoleonic psychosis emanates from his eyes the way Platonic nothingness emanates from the milky grey irises of newborns? Loulou, do you know what Nicolas said to me? He said: 'Carla, I love you so much I want to rip my heart out with my teeth, only I can't reach my chest,' and it was so touching the way he showed me how he tried to reach his heart with his tongue, going yang yang yang and drooling onto his shirt. He's so powerful, not in a muscular way, but in a sort of Jesus-I-hope-we-never-have-to-break-up-because-he-will-definitely-stalk-me-and-rip-my-pituitary-gland-out-with-his-bare-hands-and-stomp-on-it-as-promised kind of way. And yet, he's also just so vulnerable that it makes him irresistible! He confessed something to me: "You know, Carla, I've never felt really French. French voters have led me to water, but they will not let me drink.' And then, his eyes smoky with Orientalism, he held me more tightly, and kissed me the way a water buffalo would kiss a tuft of grass covered with crocodile dung."

I'll be frank with you: I know that kiss. Nicolas and I had dated on and off before, during and after his marriages, but it was really just two old friends getting together for dinner or, occasionally, a bit of the old slap and tickle or rolling me up in filo dough and dropping me into a vat of boiling virgin olive oil just long enough to hear me really howl and watch my Little Mermaid goggles fill up with what Nicolas calls 'the ineffably comforting sight of female tears.' But, as I said, I know that kiss and so I knew things were serious between my two great friends. Nevertheless, when Carla called me at 3 a.m. on January 2, and said "Loulou, ma chérie, Nicolas asked me to marry him!!" I couldn't have been more surprised if I'd woken up in bed with my ass glued to a rabid orangutan's lips. I screamed and then Carla screamed and then we screamed together and jumped up and down and fanned our faces with our finger tips and screamed again and then I said: "And so what did you tell him?" And Carla goes: "I said 'Mr. President, I have no reason to refuse you.'" And I screamed again and we both jumped up and down and fanned our faces with our finger tips again and I was like oh my god oh my god, and with tears streaming down my beloved face, I said, "Chérissime Carla, this is the most exciting thing that has happened to me since my boyfriend killed that guy about the boat in Monte Carlo that time."

And so last night, on January 24, 2008, barely two months after our famous musical soirée, Carla and Nicolas were married where they first met, here at my home in the rue de Varenne. The ceremony in my garden, among the oleanders, lilies, roses and daffodils was scrumptious, a small but star-studded event, with guests including the bride's and grooms' parents; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who came over from England with Madonna, who was sporting a full but impeccably-trimmed mustache; corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, out on parole; Jocelyne Wildenstein; the great designer and waxworks mannequin Yves Saint Laurent; famous beauties Marisa Berenson and Jacqueline de Ribe, whose faces now look like Balzac's pajamas; Mickey Rourke, with little triangular fang-like bits of mustache on his upper lip and surgically carved pecs and abs blurting out from beneath a shirtless faux fur leopard ensemble; and of course my dear friend Karl Lagerfeld, whose surgically sunken-cheeked face is now permanently puckering sho zhat he hash to talk like zhizsh. (Sometimes when Carla and I are bored lolling about in our couture minigowns playing "Rebel Without a Pulse" or doing donuts with the Testarossa on the seventeenth-century cobblestones in the courtyard to make that awful American who lives downstairs call the police, we sneak through my friend and neighbor Hubert de Givenchy's gardens and tiptoe inside the grounds of Karl's mansion and knock on the door and say 'Knock knock.' And Karl says 'Hooszheh?' and we say " Dishwasher," and Karl says " Dishwasher who?" and Carla and I go: "Dishwasher way I yooshed to shpeak before I got my new falsh teesh!" And then Karl shouts Gott im Himmel! very angrily behind the door and hits that loud buzzer that unleashes his tutu-wearing German pit bulls with their little sequined Chanel swastika eyepatches, but by that time we have already, giggling away, scaled the wall and scurried back to the rue de Varenne. Anyway, Jocelyn and Mickey and Karl and Gordon and Marisa and Yves all turned and stared as Nicolas' "very special guest," Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, arrived and stood at the door smiling that contented-for-the-totally-wrong-reasons simpleton's smile and mumbled something in Arabic. I asked his interpreter what he had said and he replied: "The Leader says: 'It's the bar scene from Star Wars.'"

Carla composed two new songs for the wedding. An ugly rumor had it that she did not write her now famous folk ballad "Hegel, Hippolyte, Kojeve" alone, but as the songs unveiled amidst applause and headshaking at her sheer genius last night attest, Carla is, as one of her ex-boyfriends, a philosopher whom we hired to work as a waiter at the reception, said, 'a lyricist who makes Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen look like stuttering goyim.' Her first song, "Why Do I Bother?," showed the influence of her favourite American poet, Emily Dickinson.

I never met an owl or tree,

For all the universe bereft,

A friend Chaldean, or the moon,

The sparrow's thud, and god, a hoot.

And then she sang one in French, unfortunately untranslatable, called, movingly, "Nicolas," a tribute to her new husband:

N c'est pour la négraille debout

Nic, ta mère a mis le olas

Sur tes karchers et mariées

La racaille s'est fait enculée,

words that brought tears to Nicolas' eyes.

Finally, it was time for the exchange of vows. The priest said 'Do you, Nicolas, take Carla to be your lawful wedded wife?, and Nicolas said 'I do.' Then the priest said, 'Do you, Carla, take Nicolas to be your lawful wedded husband?' and Carla's loving feline stepmother's gaze wandered over to Pierre and Jean, Nicolas' tall, blond, muscular eighteen and twenty year-old sons and then to eleven year-old Louis, and she murmured: "Oh, totally," and Carla Bruni thus became the First Lady of France.

Then, at the reception dinner, held back inside the house, Mickey Rourke stood up and tapped on one of my Baccarat glasses so hard that he cracked it and got everyone's attention and gave a little talk, at one point addressing the President of the Republic directly with the words: "Sarko, baby, now that you've bagged the top wop bitch, you got just about the whole mid-life crisis package: gold chain, sunglasses, two-toned shoes, love handles and dilapidated trophy wife. So, dude, like where's the fucking Porsche?" Then Mickey took a remote control, clicked it, and the porte-cochère opened slowly and two black Carreras, our gifts to Nicolas and Carla, were driven into the courtyard. And we all applauded and threw rice and flowers and the whole thing was so beautiful and emotional that I got a little confused and I accidentally threw a table knife at Nicolas' head.

Carla was of course crying, she was so happy, but she took me aside for a moment and said "Loulou, I'm just so worried." And I said "Darling Carla, whatever for?" And she said "I just wonder whether, given the fact that I'm Italian, I'll ever truly be respected as the First Lady of France." I gave her a hug and reassured her by telling her that France has long welcomed foreign-born gymnasts, from Anne of Austria to Marie de Medici to Marie Antoinette, and that French schoolchildren are taught to ooh and ah at them almost as much as at Madame de Maintenon, Juliette Recamier and other famous French pay-per-view sluts. As we were driving over to the Élysée for the official state reception, we crossed the Place de la Concorde with the sirens blaring and everything, and there was this, like, oil stain, right on the spot where Marie Antoinette was decapitated in 1793, and Carla said: "You know, it makes you think." And I said: "Darling Carla, always a bad idea," and she promised me she wouldn't give thinking another thought.

© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere

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© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere

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About LOUISE DE LA PAUMARDIERE It would be difficult to imagine anyone more purely French or a better embodiment of France and French values than polyglamorous Louise de la Paumardiere. Loulou's paternal great grandfather Andre Le Troquer, unfairly removed from office as President of the French Senate in 1958 for having run a pedophile network, and her maternal grandfather General Paul Ausseresses, unfairly stripped of his rank and thrown out of the Legion d'Honneur because of his role as a torturer in the Franco-Algerian war, are but two of her many famous ancestors. Author of From Foreign to French: 100 Makeovers in Stories and Pictures (New York and London: PLB Books, 2006), multi-talented and multilingual Loulou de la Paumardiere first came to public attention when several of the high-profile Paris-based foreign women on whom she performed makeovers committed suicide. Her family operates the majority of the uniquely French institutions known as Centres d'aide par le travail, or CATS, factories in which handicapped French citizens are employed at less than minimum wage because, as Loulou puts it with her typical Cartesian clarity, "they are handicapped." Her ancestral home, Château de la Paumardiere in Boilly-sur-Gui, an hour from Paris in Normandy, has hosted every head of state since Louis XIV and was a favorite haunt of Lully the Sodomite. She continues that great tradition of French hospitality on weekends in Boilly and during the week at her luxurious mansion at 60, rue de Varenne in Paris.