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Postcards from Paris

Contact Loulou de la Paumardiere


Nicolas of course knew that he would be meeting Carla's Texan, so he had had his lackies prepare a briefing book for him and after he'd asked the American ambassador in English "So what you sink of zees Obama, omigod he is just so French!" he spent most of the evening speaking in French to Carla's American.

"Monsieur," he said, "did you know that that the first European visitors to Texas in 1528 were cannibals, and that the first Texans ever encountered by Europeans were tall Karankawa warriors who carried six-foot cedar longbows and were living in marital relationships with their male eunuch partners and who were disgusted by the Europeans' cannibalism? And that the first European name ever given to Texas was l'Ile du Malheur, The Isle of Unhappiness? And that the civilizing mission of France in February 1685 took our great explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, to Texas, where he wandered inland from Galveston and then in January 1687, was ambushed by his assistant, Dr. Pierre Duhaut, who while La Salle lay dying, mocked him with the words: 'Oh, the great pasha! Look at you now!' And then as an alligator dragged La Salle's body into Garcitas Creek, Duhaut and others chopped five other La Salle loyalists to death with hatchets? Your Texas is a dangerous place, ha ha!"

The Texan seemed rather enchanted with Nicolas' attention to him and with the anecdotes Nicolas had rather obviously prepared for the occasion. He smiled and shook his head to say no he did not know those things and by dessert must have had something akin to degenerative arthritis of the zygapophyseal joints because I never heard him say a word or answer any of Nicolas' many questions in the affirmative.

I recognized Nicolas' over-preparation from the many times he'd tried to conquer me, and I remember the first time he came to La Paumardiere back in 1981 and we played tennis and I had a killer serve (100 mph, no kidding, which is monstrously good and not just for a girl), but I double faulted twice in a row and Nicolas jumped over the net and jogged over to me, his arms rocking side to side with a sort of jovial bonhomie, and he said "Louise, if I may," and he stood behind me and placed one hand over mine on the racket and the other on my stomach and said "You can't be a good server until you relax," and I was melting in his arms and then he said "How tall are you?"

And I said "Five seven."

And he said "5'7," excellent. That means that your racket reaches to eight feet in the air when you serve. If you hit the ball with no spin at 100 miles an hour, and your racket is five degrees past vertical when you hit, the ball goes long. If it's six degrees past vertical when you hit it, it goes into the net. But if you're holding your racket at five point five degrees when you hit the ball, the ball goes right into the box."

And I was supremely impressed, but then so was Nicolas and I can't remember how many times I've wanted to wipe that expression of smug, post-coital self-congratulation off his face with a good Black & Decker nail gun. But I must say that I was taken with him as I watched him jog back to the net, this time using his Olympian hurdler gait, and he cleared the net magnificently except for his toe which grabbed the top and the net seemed to spin him up like a spider gift-wrapping a dung-beetle and then spewed him back out face first onto the hard red clay but Nicolas just got right back up and stood there bleeding in his receiving stance and I said "Head wounds are always so spectacular aren't they?" and he nodded and I said "Ready?" and he sobbed "Ready," and bled some more.

"And did you know," the droning continued, "that in 1839, your second President, the poet Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, convinced the Senate of the Republic of Texas to revoke a treaty that granted land and peace to the Cherokee people and that their 83-year-old chief refused to run, and so on Lamar's orders, Chief Diwali Bowles (http://www.amazon.com/Bowles-Cherokees-Civilization-American-Indian/dp/0806134364) was shot in the head and strips of his skin were taken by the Republic's soldiers as souvenirs? And that in 1898 one of his descendants named Chief Padraig Greywolf Bowles, who was obsessively and perhaps even insanely interested in pursuing the history of his father's, Chief John Bowles' own pursuit and murder, as well as that of his grandfather Chief Diwali Bowles, wrote this huge book in Cherokee called The Book of the Islands, of which only one copy is known to exist? And that in it he hinted that the people living in the Malheur Islands off of Matagorda Bay in the Gulf of Mexico were the descendants of the La Salle expedition and of the few survivors of the Cherokee Massacre of 1839? And that it wasn't until 1972 that scholars confirmed that the inhabitants of Malheur Island aren't speaking French Creole at all, as had long been assumed, but pure seventeenth-century French? And," said Nicolas, "it is said that the book contains something called Magical Lies that can make you immortal!"

As I listened to Nicolas, I thought my, oh my, how he had memorized his briefing book, as usual, but why? To impress the Texan, whom he would in all likelihood never see again? Or, more probably, to make the American look like a Neanderthal and so win back Carla? And I said "Nicolas, you are astounding. You've won my heart again."

And Nicolas said "Loulou, call me."

And after dinner we all, even Nicolas, went over to Man Ray, Johnny Depp's club in the rue Marbeuf and we went upstairs and sat on the floor smoking and then I noticed that the American had disappeared. And I said "Carla, where's your American? Is something wrong?"

And she said "Maybe." And I prodded her and she told me that one of her girlfriends, named Christine, who had written Carla's biography, (http://www.amazon.fr/Carla-Bruni-Itinéraire-Sentimental-est-elle/dp/2350760804/ref=pd_sim_b_2/277-8437462-1719866) and had even been a BGF until she had moved in with Carla's ex-live-in, Jean-Paul Enthoven, once Carla had had a baby with Jean-Paul's son, something for which, go figure, Carla never forgave Christine, had now betrayed her again. And I asked her to explain and she said that that same afternoon before coming to the Elysee, she had been wandering around the American's library in the rue de Varenne and had found a copy of one of Christine's books called The Key in the Lock, which gives advice to women about when and how to get rid of their boyfriends and husbands, she looked inside it. And then she borrowed it. Carla took the book out of her purse and held it open towards me and said: "Look, Loulou. Just look!" And I read the handwritten dedication: "To my magnificent Texan, I give the extra key to my lock," (view image) which probably indicates that Christine, too, is in love with Carla's long, tall inarticulate Texan.

And I looked at it and went "So?"

And Carla went "So? So he's two-timing both me and you with Christine. And now I'm pretty sure Nicolas has fallen for him too, which could lead to three-timing."

And I said "Oh Carla, don't be ridiculous. It's not his fault if women fall in love with him, although it's still a mystery to me why they ever would. And a) he can't be two-timing you because you don't even sleep, or rather have sex, together, as he's too busy talking about yours truly. And b) he can't be cheating on Y.T. because we don't even know each other. And c) if you think he's two-timing you, then why are you so eager to dump such a nice New World philanderer on me?"

"Oh, Loulou, you know that's not it. I just feel that he has something to give you that no one else can. The things he knows about you are inexplicable and…and…irresistible."

"It must be his way with words," I said.

"That's not very nice, Loulou," said Carla. "One thing that I do know is that he loves you as much as I do. You must go to the Hall of Mirrors next month and get to know him. Please, Loulou, please say you will. He'll be heartbroken if you don't go."

And I said "Carla, my darling, I wouldn't go to Versailles on Christmas Eve unless it were a matter of life and death."

"Loulou," said Carla, "it's much more important than that."

© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere


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.