Last Word of August from Paris: Unauthorized Water!
Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, says New Orleans and the hurricane is big news there too, and that he has received what he assumes to be the first letter of many, an angry American asking "why the French aren't rushing to help folks in Louisiana like America rushes in to help folks in.…"
Well, they sold us Louisiana and may fear we'll want our money back? Defective goods? Or they severely disapprove of what passes for French from Houma to New Orleans, that Cajun stuff even worse than the French spoken in Quebec? They are so picky about their language. And I drove those long flat miles from Houma to New Orleans a few years back one Sunday morning, listening to the Zydeco music on the radio, and to whatever language that was they were speaking. It wasn't French, even if it started out as French.
Of course the French also might remember that when Parisians were dying from a record-breaking heat wave one summer not too long ago, we were making fun of them with items like this editorial in the Washington Post from Thursday, August 14, 2003 -
When the sick and elderly are dying, that was pretty nasty. But they are, after all, the French.To listen to the fuss Europeans are making about their weather, anyone would think that it was actually hot over there. In Paris, shops have experienced a run on electric fans. In Sweden, a male bus driver showed up for work in a skirt after his company informed him that he was not allowed to wear shorts. In Amsterdam, zookeepers are giving iced fruit to their chimpanzees to cool them off.
Okay, so maybe it's a bit warmer than usual. Temperatures across the continent have shot up into the 90s and once or twice have topped 100 degrees in London and Paris. But is this really hot - hot enough to close businesses, hot enough to cancel trains (the tracks might buckle), hot enough to wax nostalgic for the summer rain to which some Europeans, notably residents of the British Isles, are more accustomed?
Last time we checked, the weather here in Washington was in the upper 80s, which is average to low for this time of year. Temperatures in Houston and Dallas in the past couple of days have topped 100, as they usually do in summer. Yet somehow, no one's talking about extraordinary measures being taken by Texans or Washingtonians. On the contrary, President Bush, who qualifies as both, by some measures, is currently mocking the press corps by pretending to enjoy jogging in the Texas heat. Not all Europeans may want to go this far - but maybe they will now at least stop turning up their noses at those American summer inventions they've long loved to mock: The office window that doesn't open, the air conditioner that produces sub-arctic temperatures and the tall glass of water, served in a restaurant, filled to the brim with ice.
And now? As you see in the press, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent messages of sympathy to President Bush. Ric says aid will follow. Will Bush refuse it because they thought our get-Saddam-before-he-kills-us-all war was a really stupid idea? Who knows?
But as August closes, note this from Ric:
The sign (made of marble) saying you will get blown to smithereens by the 'cannons' if you...When it's hot in town and there's no nearby beach - Paris-Plage closed too soon! - clever Parisians simply ignore signs (made of marble) saying they will get blown to smithereens by the 'cannons' and jump right in. Unauthorized water! Not suitable for swimming. Keep out. Foutez nous le paix! Bliss at 32 degrees - and more to come.
Ultra rare. September tomorrow.
Posted by Alan at 17:28 PDT
Post Comment |
Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:36 PDT home