The first time ever I saw your face was on the ferry.
I had my head buried in a copy of the South China Morning Post. My father had said, if I re...moreDesire
The first time ever I saw your face was on the ferry.
I had my head buried in a copy of the South China Morning Post. My father had said, if I read it every day, I would learn about the world around us, and his boy would become a man. Only then would I be ready to take over the family business after him.
He was right, in his way. I was thin and soft and naïve, even though I had just returned from two years in Paris. I was still a boy, at 28. I’m sure I would have continued as a boy, unless I had met you.
I had slept with many girls in Paris, and I bedded plenty more after you, before I married my wife, a virgin until our wedding night. But I didn't sleep with any of these girls out of love or even desire. I fucked them because I could. They came to me eager to be fucked, and we all knew the reason, my family’s wealth and increasing prominence in Saigon. They all came to me, because they wanted something that my father had.
My father was not an egotistical man. He did not display pride or shame. He did everything out of duty, even make money, buy property, run a department store and build wealth. But when it came to the girls I slept with (not you), and he always found out about them, he took some delight in my sexual activity. No matter how attractive each one was, he knew that by sleeping with them, I was actually disqualifying them from the race to be my wife and share his wealth. Everyone I slept with narrowed it down to the one I would eventually marry.
I looked up from the Post, some article on inflation, and I saw you taking a seat opposite me. I gazed at you longer than I should have.
Everything about you was wrong. You were Caucasian, white, 15 ½ years old, slim, you were wearing a flowing dress that alternately swayed in the breeze or clung to your body, outlining and highlighting your petite breasts. And you were wearing a man’s fedora and gold shoes.
Once I took all of this in, I tried to resume reading the Post. I was looking down at the page, but I couldn’t distinguish a single word, I was thinking of you and I was shaking. Like a boy.
Later the same week, we happened to be on the same ferry again. I didn’t see you on board, but when my father’s driver (until recently, when he retired, my driver) opened the door to the limousine, I noticed that you were standing near the waterline, apparently deciding what you would do next.
I went up to you, determined to offer you a ride in my car, I mean my father’s car. You were apprehensive at first, but I reassured you of my good faith, and you decided to accept. It helped that I was shaking the whole way through our brief discussion.
While we were talking, we stood side on, so that my driver could see both of us, the sides of our faces and the hints of nervous smiles. Something must have touched him, unless he did it out of a sense of duty to my father, for he took a photo of us that day.
He gave it to me when he retired 10 years ago. I have carried it with me, in my wallet, every day since then. Until today, I haven’t pulled it out and looked at it again. I didn’t need to. That moment, in my eyes, has been engraved in my mind for fifty years. The only difference is that the image confirms that I was there, that it wasn’t all in my imagination, you can see both of us. The image is true, and so now is my memory. Only I’m not sure whether I ever wanted to be reminded.
It’s not that the photo reminds me of a time when I was a boy. After all, it was you who made me a man, not reading the Post.
Like my father before me, I am a man of duty. I have faithfully taken care of my wife, my family, my family’s business. Everything has grown under my watchful and caring eye. I have done the right thing, and I will die a contented man, if contentment is what I am looking for.
No, what that photo and that moment remind me of is my capacity for desire. It is something I eliminated from my field of vision after we parted company, at my parents’ insistence, and you returned to Paris, I thought, with your mother.
I already knew the rudimentary mechanics of sex when we stood before each other, a skinny Chinese boy and a skinny French girl, in my bedroom for the first time. As I had done before, I was shaking. Even my tentative erection looked as if it might shake off and fall to the floor. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny then.
Until I met you, I had been lonely. I was even lonelier after I had met you, because of the obsessive love I had for you.
You said, “I’d rather you didn’t love me, but if you do, I’d like you to do as you usually do with women.”
I asked, “Is that what you want?”
You nodded. Still I knew that you would never love me, that you could never love me.
I said, “You’ve come here with me as you might have gone anywhere with anyone.”
You replied, “I can’t say, so far I’ve never gone into a bedroom with anyone.”
You begged me, again, to do what I usually did with the women I brought to my room.
I did my best to comply. Although you were a virgin, I made love to you the way you directed me to. It was different to how I normally did it, well there was one difference, I wept while we made love.
The driver soon learned about you, and so did my father. He could tell I felt differently about you, that I wasn’t disqualifying you, that I wanted to marry this white girl, even though you would never love me in return.
He made his position very clear.
“I will not let my son marry this little white whore from Sadec.”
I tried to obliterate his attitude from my thinking. But it must have affected me subliminally.
In bed, as we fucked more and more passionately, I would call out, “My whore, my slut, you are my only love.” And you and I and my cum and your juices and our sweat would be swept up in a torrent of desire.
For a long time, it seemed as if that torrent would never stop. I didn’t know where the waters sprang from, but I definitely didn’t know where they were heading.
My father did, and so he built a dam that would contain the flow, and one day the torrent just stopped.
Loving you had made me a man, he knew that, as I did, and although we disagreed wildly, I was reconciled to my future in the family business.
As my father loosened his grip on the reins and handed them over to me, I expanded to two and then eventually five department stores, and then years later with such a solid foundation, I started investing in shopping centres in Australia, until my family became the largest private holder of retail real estate in the country.
Like my father, I am not an egotistical man or a proud one. I do this because of duty. But there was a moment when I contented myself with a smile.
I had just signed a contract to purchase a centre in Australia for A$30 million. I signed a cheque for a A$3M deposit and gave it to the Vendor’s lawyer. A youngish fellow, he decided to phone my banker and ask whether I had sufficient funds in my account to clear the cheque. The banker asked what the total sale price was. The lawyer answered, and my banker laughed. “There are enough funds in this account to pay the entire sale price in cash.”
The lawyer turned to me, squeamishly, and declared that we had a deal. I said, “I was under the impression we had a deal before you phoned my bank.”
I enquired after that lawyer once. It turned out he had married one of my property managers and was now running a coffee shop, ironically in one of my centres.
I have two daughters. They run our portfolio, and they do a more professional job of it than either I or my father ever did.
Perhaps, my father was better at taking risks than they are, but to be honest they are pretty good at it. I am proud of them, and he would be too. They have married well, and have given me four beautiful grandchildren.
As I said, I have carried our photo in my wallet for many years, ever since I learned of its existence.
Any other man in my position would possibly say that they had everything that they had ever desired.
For me, that is true, except in one sense that I have tried to overlook for fifty years.
I once desired you, that skinny white French girl in the fedora. I desired you with an intensity that I cannot find words to describe.
I have tried to rationalise and deny that desire. I’ve tried to convince myself that I only ever desired you once. And that is actually the truth. I did only desire you once, but that one occasion has lasted fifty years.
Now that I am about to die, or think I am, and my family will soon gather around me to say their farewells, I must take a match to this photo and set it alight, like you once set me alight, and perhaps, I will never know, perhaps I also set you alight, if not for as long.
My favourite nurse just brought me an ashtray and a cigarette lighter.
It took me two or three attempts to burn this image. It didn’t seem to want to go.
But now it is finished and there are only ashes in the tray, and my failing memory, and when I die and it too goes, there will be nothing left of our desire.
Mural at the Pawpaw Cafe attached to the Brisbane Restaurant "Green Papaya"(less)
"A Man never begins by representing himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a...moreNo Wonder Intrigue and Strife Abound
"A Man never begins by representing himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a Man."
Man represents himself as both the positive and the neutral. He represents Woman as the negative. Man represents himself as objective. He represents Woman as subjective.
Ironically, Man is the Subject, but objective; Woman is the Object, but subjective.
Aristotle defines a Woman in terms of a certain lack of qualities and therefore as defective. Woman is defined relative to Man. Man is not defined relative to Woman.
Yet, both together constitute a pairing, a duality, "a totality of which the two components are necessary to one another." A pairing does not necessarily imply the permanent subjection or submission of One to the Other.
Yet, a certain level of subjection is present in all relationships. "The category of the Other is as primordial as consciousness itself." It derives from the duality of the Self and the Other.
De Beauvoir argues that subjection would be incomprehensible, "if in fact human society were simply a Mitsein or fellowship based on solidarity and friendliness." However, according to Hegel, we find in consciousness, the ego, itself "a fundamental hostility toward every other consciousness; the subject can be posed only in being opposed."
Thus, there is subjection, but it is not simply in one direction. The Subject opposes the Object. It defines itself as the essential as opposed to the inessential. However, the other consciousness, the other ego, makes a reciprocal claim.
In its (the second consciousness’) perception, it is the Subject and the first consciousness is the Object. Each Subject is the Master and each Other is the Slave. "Willy-nilly, individuals and groups are forced to realise the reciprocity of their relations."
De Beauvoir asks the killer question, "How is it, then, that this reciprocity has not been recognised between the sexes,that one of the contrasting terms [the Male] is set up as the sole essential, denying any relativity in regard to its correlative [the Female] and defining the latter as pure Otherness? Why is it that Women do not dispute Male sovereignty?
No Subject will readily volunteer to become the Object, the inessential; it is not the Other who, in defining [itself] as the Other, establishes the One.
The Other is posed as such by the One in defining [itself] as the One. Butif the Other is not to regain the status of being the One, [she] must be submissive enough to accept this alien point of view."
What, then, is the origin of Woman’s submission? What is the origin of Man’s domination of Woman? Why does Man "stabilize" Woman as Object and doom her to be "overshadowed and forever transcended by another ego (conscience) which is essential and sovereign?
The drama of Woman lies in this conflict between the fundamental aspirations of every Subject (ego) – who always regards the Self as the essential – and the compulsions of a situation in which she is the inessential?
What circumstances limit Woman’s liberty and how can they be overcome?"
Although built on a philosophical foundation, "The Second Sex" seeks concrete answers to these questions. (less)
Gilbert Adair was a Scottish writer, translator, critic and screenwriter, who lived in Paris from 1968 to 1980. However, Matth...moreCinema, Sex and Politics
Gilbert Adair was a Scottish writer, translator, critic and screenwriter, who lived in Paris from 1968 to 1980. However, Matthew, the chief protagonist in this novel set in the Paris of 1968 is an Italian-American from San Diego.
Many of Henry James' characters left America to discover the traditional values and social structures of the Old World. In contrast, Matthew arrives at a time of revolutionary ferment. He feels as "gauche as an alien from another planet". Ironically, he gravitates to the Rive Gauche and finds himself swept along by the energy of the political Left. His friends give him a whirlwind education in Cinema, Sex and Politics.
Matthew is 18 at the time, and his friends, the twins, Theo and Isabelle, just 17. He meets them as fellow members of the audience of the Cinematheque Francaise.
Matthew quickly becomes infatuated by both of them:
"In truth, what he had fallen in love with was some facet which was shared by both of them equally, something identical in them, even if as twins they were not identical, something which would dart to one face, then to the other, depending on an expression or a trick of the light or the angle at which a head was cocked."
In a way, the object of this subject, his love object, is a union of male and female. The integrated object has characteristics of both genders. As a result, his own sexuality has aspects of both hetero- and homo-sexuality. The fact that the object is in reality two people confronts Matthew with the choice of either or both. The risk is that, ultimately, "the insinuation of a third party" will fracture the unity of the object.
Paris student life turns political, when in February, 1968 the creator and curator of the Cinematheque, Henri Langlois, is dismissed by de Gaulle's Minister of Culture, the author and film-maker, Andre Malraux.
The protests take to the street, and transform into the more extensive student and worker protests of May, 1968.
This was Adair's first novel (originally published under the title, "The Holy Innocents"). It's economically written and contains some beautiful phrases ("the finery of their nakedness", the "tiny, pearly scintillae of light", "the fairy-tale forest of the pubis").
It's not as well crafted as his next two novels, but it still reveals considerable talent. He writes both realistically and romantically. Adair himself was dissatisfied with the novel, initially reluctant to grant film rights, until it turned out that the film-maker who wanted them was Bernardo Bertolucci. However, on both the page and the screen, it's a fascinating portrait of a world in which the personal and the political came together for a brief moment in time, before being quashed by the power of the State.
"Stolen kisses, uneasy dreams... What is left of our love What is left of these beautiful days... A photograph, an old photograph of my youth."
"It is forbidden to forbid." (Paris May, 1968 slogan)
'At the Cinémathèque Française, he found not just a spiritual home, but also became both "politicised and eroticised".
'As he recalled: "It was a very sexy thing, and romantic, being with these young people watching old American movies, or being in the streets arm-in-arm …The whole thing was like a collective orgasm."
'Amazingly to those of us who knew Adair as a gentle, fastidious, bookish wit, the young Gilbert threw stones at the police. "I had to be slightly careful, like Matthew [Michael Pitt's character in The Dreamers], because I was a foreigner, I taught at the university, so I was also employed by the state, and would have instantly been deported if I had been caught."
'That said, he was politically ardent – for a few weeks. "I truly believed that the world was going to change."'
Roger Ebert's Review of the Film of "The Dreamers"
Bolano's novel deals with student protests in Mexico at the same time.
Photo of Henri Langlois (1967) by Henri Cartier-Bresson
(view spoiler)[In the late 80's and early 90's, I jointly founded Queensland Cinematheque and was its President for several years, before it was merged into Pacific Film and Television Commission. Its retrospective film program is now delivered by the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). (hide spoiler)]
Ian Brown refers to "citrus-sucking sunshine" in this song.The students in the May, 1968 protests bit down on lemons and smeared their faces with lemon juice in an attempt to minimise the effects of the police tear gas. John Squire's artwork on the cover of the first Stone Roses album also includes sliced lemons as a tribute to the students.
At a macro level, "Project" is about the fate of the city, the body and the novel.
All three represent a corpus, society, order...moreA Three-Fold Revolution
At a macro level, "Project" is about the fate of the city, the body and the novel.
All three represent a corpus, society, order and convention (including narrative convention).
Over the course of the novel, all three are subjected to some form of revolution: destruction, break-down, fragmentation, disarticulation, dis-integration or deconstruction.
We observe a cutting up of the natural order, an overthrow of repression, perhaps even (but not necessarily in relation to the role of women) liberation.
Like a film, what is cut up is then re-assembled into a new whole, in this case, the novel. Yet, somehow, the result is alienating. Why is it so?
If it can be done with film, via editing, why can't it be done with the novel? Why are our expectations of the novel different from those with respect to a film? Is it the visualisation of the subject matter that makes film easier to digest?
What about a novel that mimics a film?
Rape, Arson and Murder
The political revolution has already occurred by the time the novel commences. We see its aftermath. The natural order has been overturned, only it has been replaced by disorder, rather than a new order.
Like detective novels, pulp fiction and B-movies, the subject matter of the novel, the immediate consequence of its revolution, is rape, arson and murder (a triad of crimes, this time). Just as the world revolves, it is revolting.
Each crime is a destructive force. Each involves the colour red by way of revolution, fire, bruising and bloodshed.
Robbe-Grillet as author stages this revolution for us to watch. He turns us readers into voyeurs and peeping toms, who look or gaze through the keyhole, or use a phallic key to open the door and seek entry to the forbidden room, where all of the fictive action takes place.
Ironically, the person behind the revolution, the person giving the orders (that supplant the natural order) is Frank, on the one hand, the name of someone who tells it as it is, on the other, perhaps a name indicating a Frenchman, but then perhaps also the author, who might also be a director or a writer/director/producer.
The novel is drenched in the language of film and theatre. It's labelled a "project" as if it's a treatment or a proposal for a film. On the other hand, the project could merely anticipate what might occur, by design or otherwise.
It's structured as a rehearsal, a repetition (the French word "répéter" means both rehearse and repeat). There is a sequence of scenes, both original shoots and retakes, separated by judicious cutting.
When the revolution does finally come, however, like good actors and good audience members, we will know what to expect and what to be prepared for. The spectacle will be better for the rehearsal.
We implied readers even appear in the novel as interrogators, endeavouring to clarify what has happened, to explain inconsistencies, to recapitulate scenes we didn't quite understand. We are seated and present in the theatre of operations, not just as audience members or witnesses to the crimes, but as contributors to the development and appreciation of the creative work, this filmic/theatrical novel being constructed, apparently, in front of our very eyes. It would be nothing without our gaze.
New York is the locus of the revolution. It has to be, because it is (or was, in 1970, when the novel was written) the global symbol of commerce, the centre of world trade (hence the lure of the World Trade Centre for terrorists).
Because of its status, it is also the centre of advertising, the creation of modern [faux- or fake] aspirations, dreams, fantasies and mythology.
Madison Avenue tells us, as objects, how we should look, as well as telling us, as subjects, how we should look at the objects it has created for us. It is where the dominant gaze is fabricated (well, at least, alongside Hollywood, which after all is just Manhattan's backlot).
If you want to question or overthrow the dominant gaze, then the revolution has to start in New York.
The bodies in the novel are invariably those of women. They are subjected to graphic violence, rape and torture. The language mimics that of crime fiction and pornography. Fiction mimics the underbelly of society.
Womanhood is portrayed as the virginal white skin which is made bloody red, just as Mallarmé sees a blank sheet of white paper as something pure and virginal that will be sexualised and invaded by the author, enabling it to be read.
Still, sexual violence is present. Does that make the novel or the author misogynist? Is the fiction entitled to stand alone, apart from its author?
The revolutionary violence in "Project" is not just its subject matter, but a description of the very process of writing itself. The project is not just the fictional project within the text, it also defines the process by which the text is created.
Robbe-Grillet's project was to overthrow narrative convention, the natural order of fiction. He did so by appropriating the conventions of popular art forms and circumscribing or circumventing them.
Discrete passages look like they could have appeared in crime fiction, but cut up and reassembled, they take on another form. The whole is different from the parts.
While we can admire Robbe-Grillet's ambition, I can't say that it makes for an enjoyable read. The writing is word perfect, the sentences and paragraphs short and sharp and economical, like detective fiction.
However, there are no chapters or other signposts that mark transitions. The editting is so subtle, it's seamless, and frequently it's hard to know when one scene has ended and another has commenced.
As a result, it's quite possible to finish the novel and not have a clue what was going on. Nevertheless, as a whole, it's captivating and draws you back to the first page, so that you're tempted to read it again with greater understanding and appreciation.
Is this making excuses? I don't think so, but the novel is clearly not for every one.
In a way, it's like a formally innovative film. We watch it the first time, trying to get comfortable with the narrative device. On our second viewing, we relax and enjoy the detail and the significance that we missed the first time. The first viewing is just a rehearsal for a repeat visit.
Not everybody will want to do this, but those who can be lead into temptation and who make the effort should be rewarded.(less)
I first became familiar with the word “Flaneur” when a collection of Walter Benjamin’s writings called “The Arcade Projects” was published...moreThe Flaneur
I first became familiar with the word “Flaneur” when a collection of Walter Benjamin’s writings called “The Arcade Projects” was published in 1999.
It included a 1929 review called “The Return of the Flâneur”.
In it, Benjamin speculates on the significance of the “Flaneur”, a French word meaning “stroller” or “saunterer”.
It describes someone who walks the street, apparently idly, not intending to simply get from point A to point B, but seeking more to observe and experience the street and its surroundings.
In Paris, not only does the Flaneur experience the streets or boulevards, he explores the shop-lined arcades that radiate off them and join other streets.
What the Flaneur observes is the full diversity and complexity of modern life in the city.
Seeing Beyond the Crowd
The Flaneur is a spectator who joins the crowd that is moving with intent, but he remains somehow separate from it.
He is both in the crowd and detached from it. He is both an individual and a member of society.
He is both a participant and an observer, a witness to the sometimes opposing forces of tradition and modernity.
Where these forces are in conflict, the Flaneur detects the paradoxes that result from their co-existence.
The Flaneur sees both interaction and flux.
"A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris"
This is the sub-title of Edmund White’s non-fiction work.
Outwardly, it presents itself as a guidebook to the culturally aware tourist.
It starts tantalizingly:
"Paris is a big city, in the sense that London and New York are big cities and that Rome is a village, Los Angeles a collection of villages and Zurich a backwater."
I like the hint of argumentativeness and controversy planted in this otherwise innocuous first sentence.
He then quotes a “reckless friend” who defines a big city as “a place where there are blacks, tall buildings and you can stay up all night” (although he admits that Paris is deficient in tall buildings).
In the Footsteps of the Flaneur
While I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, White was already starting to flirt with our expectations of a travel guide.
I just knew him as one of the world’s greatest gay writers and a formidable intellect and writer of any gender or sexual persuasion.
However, superficially, there was no intimation that this would affect his approach to his subject matter.
Curious, I flicked quickly through the contents of the book.
There were no photos or illustrations, the six chapters bore numbers rather than headings, and, shock, shock, there were no sub-headings in the body of the text.
This guide consisted solely of thoughts and observations, all conveyed by words alone.
Still, I was already seduced and captivated by these words.
So I innocently walked up behind Monsieur White and followed him on his stroll.
How was I to know where he would lead me?
Cruising the Margins and Cracks of Paris
Of course, where he took me was to the places where you could find the true character and secrets of Paris, the City not just of Light, but of Light, Darkness and Shade, a city where the Past, Present and Future live side by side, awaiting the Flaneur.
What follows is a highly individual, informed, informative and affectionate tour through Paris’ intellectualism, sophistication, variety, foreigners, Jews, Arabs, blacks, gays, dandies, artists, jazz musicians, royalty, royalists, monarchists, town houses, temples, cathedrals, palaces and museums.
While White sings the praises of Paris’ boulevards and grand design, it’s in the cracks that he finds “those little forgotten places that appeal to the Flaneur, the traces left by people living in the margin – Jews, blacks, gays, Arabs – or mementoes of an earlier, more chaotic and medieval France.”
Paris as Palimpsest
Paris is a work of art which is being constantly altered and added to, but scratch the surface and you will find that it is a palimpsest that reveals the former work that still resides below.
It is the role of the Flaneur to impose a personal vision on this palimpsest, to use it not so much as a source of abstract or dry knowledge, but to create from it a picture or record of experience, a collection of impressions or mental snapshots or “instantanee”, of life lived and still being lived.
Paris as Refuge
Paris accommodates all tastes, from the most extravagant and luxe to the most commonplace, but it also accommodates life’s fugitives, those who are marginalized in other parts of the world.
People who are scorned or cast out from elsewhere are welcome here.
They put down roots and they start to grow and create, paradoxically within a short distance from cathedrals, palaces and museums, the institutions by which we know Paris.
Ultimately, it’s these people who hold the greatest interest for White, not to mention the objects they surround themselves with and the record of their existence and their experience:
"...these mental snapshots, these instantanees of fugitive life, these curving banisters and lacquered portals, these cold, empty quays beside the Seine where someone under a bridge is playing a saxophone – all the priceless but free memories only waiting for a Flaneur to make them his own."
Be Your Own Flaneur
We are lucky that Edmund White was one such Flaneur, because in making these memories his own and writing about them, he has also made them ours.
However, I won't be content to be an armchair Flaneur.
One day soon, December, 2012, I hope to be a Flaneur strolling down the boulevards of Paris.
I’m sure there will be a few paradoxes waiting there for me to discover.
I might even incorporate some of my instantanee as appendages to my review.
Meanwhile, I'm getting in as much strolling practice as I can.
Here is a YouTube video reading of Walter Benjamin's discussion of Flaneurs:
Manny and I finally met on middle, if not neutral, ground, France, on my recent sojourn to Le Old World.
He sha...moreDeux Semillon and a Serve of Monstrachet
Manny and I finally met on middle, if not neutral, ground, France, on my recent sojourn to Le Old World.
He shared with me the secrets of his delight in book-hunting in Paris.
Naturally, he endeavoured to distract me with children's literature, while he scoured the shelves, tables and barrows for erotic material that would yield at least one erection per euro or franc or whatever the universal currency of le porn softe oder concrete is nowadays. (I know, and they say the men of gay Paree are tight with their money or for yours.)
I love the categories that order the shelves of bookshops for our more convenient perusal, literature, popular fiction, children, young adult, paedophilia, reference, self-help, help yourself, science fiction, paranormal, young adult paranormal, paranormal reference, erotica, paranormal erotica, young adult paranormal erotica, oh my god, the choice you have available to you when you only have one hand with which to read.
Anyway, I was happily browsing the young adult paranormal erotica reference section, when Manny arrived with a book and a smurk on his face that I thought betrayed his greater familiarity with culture, whether French, yoghurt or otherwise.
"Here, you must buy this. I can't wait to see your review."
I was flattered by his attention.
It was a French copy of "Roget's Thesaurus".
Of course, I was familiar with the English version. I even collect different editions in English, but had never seen the work in a foreign language.
Imagine what you could learn about a culture by the way they assemble their Thesaurus.
I didn't even have time to turn to the contents page, when Manny said, "Come on, let's go and have une petite déjeuner."
I was grateful to have my Roget at this point, because it added some sophistication and dignity to the balance of my purchases.
Le femme a la biblio cash register even smiled knowingly and respectfully as she tallied le burden financais of my acquisitions.
To tell the truth, I had been une petite apprehensive when I weighed le heft of my Roget, but I vaguely remembered that le Frogs have less words in leur dictionnaire than the English.
Hence its relative heftlessness.
While Manny departed to le bar to acquire une bischen semillon et chevrelous goat's cheese a deux, I freed my Roget from its plain brown paper wrapping, and, yes dear lecteur, I was shocked, shocked, to discover its contents, even more so than le frog cop in "Casablanca".
In rétrospectivement, I suppose I should have seen it coming. Every second page betrayed pictures of a plump boyish garcon almost a la neud bearing little more or less than a t-shirt blanc sur le and/or la apellation "Roget".
And on every second page alternatif was, dare I reveal mon embarrassemente, an explicit hand-drawn and coloured picture of une reptile ancient et humungous described as "le Thesaurus".
Bon acquainted as I am with dinosaurs, this specimen was most cretaceous, possessed of arguably the most definite article I had ever observed, le stuff of legends a la bipedal carnivore lizarde und monsterotica a la Sainte Vierge Karen de la Noble Barnes.
So, mon ami, it is with great humilité et une grave accent that je must disclose that this work of literateur reveals few words, even less synonyms and precious little evidence of le structure de la langue et winding road Francais.
Yes, Manny had tricked moi in the most heartless et despicable fashion a la creme de la creme anglaise.
But I confide in you, my most hannibal lecteur, je suis already parcelle ma vengeance.
Avoir peur, Manny, avoir not just un peu peur, avoir un very big peur. (less)