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We're French and You're Not
 

Excerpt from We're French and You're Not

From the Private Diary of Robert Le Secraisin.

     31 October, 5 p.m.: Jean and I begin planning our route for this year's Chardonnay race. This year's contest begins in Monaco and ends in Dover. We both agree that we must win the prize money to continue the lifestyle we deserve.       
     Jean traveled Tuesday to the Academy of Meteorological Sciences in Paris. He claims that he threw a spectacular two-day party there. I can well believe it, for Jean departed from our vineyard with fifty cases of our finest Bordeaux. He was pleasantly surprised that it took such a short time to win over the scientists. Not only did the happy academy give us the weather forecasts and the best routes, it also promised to provide bad information to our competitors. But no! This is not wrong, after all, we thought of it.

     5:05 p.m.: Jean and I finish planning our route. We head to a party in Biarritz to honor the Spanish ambassador, or somebody.

     2 November: Jean and I got lost yesterday driving back from the party. We spent the entire day driving in circles. We now commence the serious business of planning our menus.

     9 November: Jean and I finish the menus. It means putting in a lot of late hours, but one must do these things right! Sacre bleu!

     10 November, 9 a.m.: We start packing the food.

     Noon: We start packing the wine.

     5 p.m.: We start loading the equipment things that make the balloon go.

     5:15 p.m.: We finish loading the equipment things. Next, we put the balloon on our

  limousine. Afterwards, we attend a party held by the mayor of Bordeaux. The mayor toasts our good luck. We promise to bring honor to the town.

11 November, Early morning!: Jean and I ride in our limousine to Monaco. Jean has hired a driver since we left straight from the party and cannot keep our eyes open.

     Noon: We unload our balloon by the Boulevard Albert, which runs alongside the Port of Monaco. The race begins at two, so we have time to eat a four-star meal at the Hôtel de Paris. After lunch, we stagger across the street to the new casino to try our luck at roulette.
     We do so-so until the ball lands on "00." But we have all our money on red. The croupier whisks away our chips. We cannot believe it. What is this double-zero? There is no double-zero in roulette. I inform the croupier of this fact. The croupier deigns to reply that they play the American style of roulette in the new casino. Jean insists that we are not in America. I call the croupier a thief. The croupier shrugs his shoulders. Jean punches the croupier in his big stupid nose.
     Just ten minutes later, another employee notices his bloodied, fallen comrade and helps him to his feet. The enraged croupier summons the security guards. But it is already too late. We are leaving, having stopped only to play a few hands on the new electronic blackjack machine. We have the good fortune to find a cab outside and so, we speed away to our balloon.

     1:55 p.m.: Mon Dieu! We arrive at our balloon minutes before the start of the race. Jean and I tumble into the basket. Pow! The starting gun fires. Jean starts the flame, so that our balloon will rise. But we are not going anywhere! We have neglected to untie our balloon.
     Neither Jean nor I are sober enough to get out of the basket and untie the rope. What are we to do? Jean solves things by sticking his newspaper into the flame. He then sets fire to the rope with the burning newspaper. This maneuver works marvelously well and we soon soar into the heavens. We hear angry voices yelling down below. It seems that the fire from the rope is spreading to a nearby café. We shrug our shoulders, set the balloon on automatic pilot, and open our first bottle of champagne. We look forward to a fine race.