For many years now, the French have been furious with – and a little envious of – Bill Clinton: not because of his foreign policy, but because of his sexual dalliances. He was giving them a bad name. France, after all, is the original land of amour; the nation that gave the world the French kiss – and frustrated Victorians, French postcards. For too long had this Yankee upstart been stealing their thunder with his romps with Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky – and God knows how many others. It was humiliating.
Now all that has changed. Nicolas Sarkozy has restored their national honour. He has regained the title of ‘world’s randiest President’. A defamatory accusation, you say? Don’t take my word for it. This comes straight from the horse’s mouth – or, rather, his ex-wife’s. In her forthcoming biography, Cecilia Sarkozy has described her ex as a “serial womanizer”, “cheap” and “ridiculous”. And the lady was just getting wound up. In one passage, she describes Sarkozy’s behaviour, after their split, as “a hotch potch women and karaoke till 4 a.m”. She calls her former husband’s female friends “a bunch of slappers”. I am not quite sure what a slapper is, but I’m guessing it’s not a complement. What is that saying about a woman scorned? Something about a very hot place, as I recall. Tsk, tsk, such undignified behaviour from a President.
You may believe that, but the French are lapping it up. There is a newfound confidence in their swagger and their puffed up chests. After so many years in the wilderness, with straight laced Mitterand, Chirac and their frumpy wives, they at last have a leader they can be proud of; one who has sent the American pretender packing. And whatever else you may say about Sarkozy, you have to admit the man has taste. His latest squeeze, Carla Bruni is a stunner, with gorgeous features and legs that go on forever. I am aware that some women would call that a sexist remark, but I prefer to consider it the opinion of a connoisseur who appreciates the finer things in life.
If there is one fly in the ointment, it is Sarkozy’s stated intention to marry the woman. Frenchmen do not marry their paramours, for heaven’s sake. Is he trying to destroy a centuries-old tradition? Next thing you know, their own mistresses will be demanding a band of gold. Honestly! OK, there is the trifling inconvenience of the President having gotten his lady love pregnant, but these things can be handled with finesse, without making the ultimate sacrifice. Still, the man hasn’t set the date yet, so there remains a faint hope that he will come to his senses before it is too late.
Many foreign visitors regard the French as arrogant and rude. Having visited France myself, I can vouch for that. In one department, though, the French are non-pareil . A lady of my acquaintance, speaking from personal experience, once told me that when a girl has been romanced by a Frenchman, she knows it. Their American counterparts have a lot of catching up to do.
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