Bonjour, mes chéries! You won't believe it. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and I were having our claws sharpened two weeks ago at Carita-—there's nothing like a mani-pedi with your BGF to make you relax, I mean other than a Top of the Pops mix of monoamine oxidase inhibitors in a bottle of perfectly chilled Taittinger brut rosé prestige, of course—when she turned to me and said "Loulou darling, I have wonderful news. Nicolas told me that I'm pregnant!"
I let out a little squeal and said "A baby in the Elysée palace!" This, I told Carla, is going to be like that magical time of Camelot that all of us here in France remember from the adorable images of little John-John Kennedy peeking out from beneath the skirt of Marilyn Monroe in the Oval Office while his mother sat out on the Truman Balcony getting hammered and it made me nostalgic for those first days of autumn in Paris each year when we would send the children off to school with their new book satchels and crayons and cigarettes. How I miss hearing them ask all of those precious, unanswerable questions that delight mothers everywhere: "Maman, what does God look like?" and "Maman, what's the difference between a president and a rich thug with bodyguards?"and "Maman, where does the sun go sleepy-bye?" and "Maman, what's the difference between a church leader and a corporate shill for the pedophile industry?" So sweet!
Carla so wants to be not only a good mother but a good stepmother and has questioned my three eldest sons, who have been arrested and immediately released with the Sarkozy boys so many times that they are like brothers, about how to proceed. "Oh, Loulou," she said just the other day, "it's been a month since the wedding! When, oh when, will Nicolas' children finally accept me?"
"What makes you think that they don't, darling?"
And she said "I was having one of my cravings last night and was alone in the Elysée kitchen when one of Nicolas' sons suddenly appeared in the kitchen doorway."
"Which one?" I asked. "The one who looks like Trini Lopez in a Baby Jane wig, or the ugly one?"
"Trini," said Carla. "I hadn't been able to find my bathrobe when I got out of bed and wasn't really expecting to see anyone, so when I heard footsteps I quickly grabbed the first thing I could find and covered myself up. And so he walks in and goes, 'Nice spatula,' and I said "Oh hi. Thanks," quickly readjusting it to cover as much of my solar plexus as possible. "Would you like a glass of milk or to clip some jumper cables to my nipples or a cookie or anything?" And he was like, 'No, I'm good,' and just walked out.
And I looked at her and said "Carla, honestly, sometimes you can be such a cephalopod."
And then right there in Carita she lifted her blouse and showed me a small Rubelli pillow belted onto her stomach. "This is what Nicolas told me is referred to as an 'alternative pregnancy,'" she said. "He doesn't want me to be pregnant for real because he says it's 'just too yucky' and he asked his mother if it would be okay and she said absolutely not. Still, Nicolas says politics is merely a way of getting the masses worked up before using them for ones own purposes and this alt-pregnancy makes the President look less like a pelvis-led nincompoop and more like a paterfamilias the nation's fools can actually trust, and then he tried to explain something he called 'leveraging the brand.'"
Well, this was certainly unexpected, but not really in a good way like when that one bad cop asks another for a light and Robocop shows up and says "Allow me, scum," and torches them with his flamethrower. Carla told me that when Nicolas broke the news to her about it not being a real baby and all, she felt so lonely that at one point she had tried to take her life by ingesting a 290-calorie meal at one sitting, but half way through, just as her soul was about to leave her body, her cell phone had rung and she asked for the check. The next day, she got into a hot bath with the intention of slitting her wrists, but, realizing she had forgotten the razor, stepped out onto a wet bar of soap and executed something ice skaters would have recognized as a triple Lutz-single back flip, fracturing her coccyx as she landed on the scalding tub faucet before rocketing vertically into the mirror and ricocheting down onto the bidet, where she cracked her head with a chilling, osteopathic bong.
As her best friend, I tried to comfort her and I hugged her and said "Carla darling, it's normal for you to be suicidal: you're not even French. To Nicolas, this national interest pregnancy is just another run of the mill state-organized scientific swindle. For him, facts, as maman always liked to say, are like fidelity or virginity: a state of mind. But you, Carla darling, you're a woman."
"I am?" she said.
"Bear with me. And you've had the cruelest of all tricks played on you by these bastards."
"Oh, Loulou, I didn't care about the baby," said Carla. "I just wanted to have breasts the size of Aepyornis eggs for a couple of years."
"Well, you're sure you're not going to do anything foolish?" I asked.
"All right then, darling," I said as I pushed a small, abalone-handled .38 into her hand. "But I'm leaving this loaded gun with you just in case."
"Loulou, you're the bestest. But I just feel so used."
"Not used, Carla: vintage. And think about it: wouldn't you rather have an alt-pregnancy with bigger and bigger pillows rather than the real thing? Or have you forgotten that giving birth is like trying to push a Smart car with a life-size accordion player hood ornament through a keyhole, although, to be sure, nothing that Epidural, nitrous oxide and a heart-shaped box of Mommy's First Opiate Sampler can't dull? But I do know how you feel. Children are God's gift to women so that we may help our childless friends pass imperceptibly from a vague feeling of uneasiness to clinical depression. Looks and talent and chateaux and travel and Aston-Martins and Kelly bags are nice, but for a sheer sense of empowerment give me a strollerful of cruelty, any day. Carla darling, you're the First Lady now, so you must do this for France."
"At least," she said, "Nicolas let me choose whether to call the pillow a boy or a girl, so I said girl."
"Oh Carla darling, just think of the fun you'll have imagining dressing her up. And there's no greater satisfaction than teaching a little girl to be not just a woman, but a Frenchwoman. Forget teaching her to play goddamn Für Elise on the piano the way mothers in other countries do. We'll teach her instead how to attain a level of cattier than thouness that not even an ex-trailer trash gay male force-fed Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward by a fashionista coven could dream of; how to make a vinaigrette; to always wear her WWMJW ("What Would Mrs. Jesus Wear?) ring" (for starters, obviously, the Little Black Dress); how to get by her entire life as a Parisienne with a single quotation (General de Gaulle on the right number of dinner guests: "more than the Graces, fewer than the Muses," accompanied by the four-little-puffs-exhaled-from-the-nostrils laugh); how to ignore poor-looking children whose parents sometimes manage to find the what I used to believe were well-concealed sandboxes at the back of the Rodin museum garden; how to do the Daddy's little girl thing in bed until she's too old to talk (men!); how to spot FFPs (foreigners with French potential) including, if rarely, Americans, like Jerry Lewis, the greatest actor of all time, whose routines imitating cerebral palsy victims launched his brilliant career, or that darling little girl Taylor on Kid Nation, who chirped that ugly animals should all be killed and only the beautiful ones allowed to live.
© 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.