Posted by: Stella Glass
So it should be obvious to all of you that I didn’t really have my head in the game, so to speak, last week at all. Things were busy at work for the first time in a while, and I’ve had a lot going on personal-life wise. The result is that I have posted video after video and cop out post after cop out post for the last several days. And this one is no exception!!!
I have, since a young age, had a fascinating with France and French culture. Not actual France, per se, but the concept of France that had developed in my mind. I had not seen much of the world by this age, but I had some very deep convictions about France. Namely that it was filled with rich and fashionable ladies and that they all ran around Paris in smart little cars, drinking champagne, wearing beautiful dresses and coyly smiling at tuxedo-ed suitors.
When I was a wee girl growing up in northern New Jersey the lovely elementary school I attended believed in beginning to teach students a foreign language at the tender age of 9. Becoming fluent in French seemed like a natural first step towards my goal of being an obscenely rich woman who spent her days thusly, and changes outfits three times a day. My French teacher was a wild-eyed bottle-redhead named Mme Rosche, who perhaps owing to her own conceptions of French glamour, wore clown-like circles of rouge on her cheeks, doused herself in heady perfume and was never without lipstick. She spoke in an enormously nasal Long Island accent, giving her French speech the sound quality of Huckleberry Hound speaking into a paper towel tube.
In an attempt to connect us young people with French culture, Mme Rosche brought a number of things to our class which reflected the life (vie) of (de) hip (pronounced ‘eeeep) young (jeune) boys and girls (garconnes et filles) of Paris (de Paris). Sorry.
Among them was a lovely little 6 page magazine called Copains! meaning Friends! and it was about all the things you and your friends enjoy doing–sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking “cocas”, (coca cola) while looking blankly at each other. Sitting in a room while two friends dance and the rest of you watch expectantly, and sitting on the floor of what appears to be a halfway house bedroom listening to records on a sad, plastic player. C’est chouette!
Ever the style hound, Mme Rosche also clued our class into Parisian trend of pacifiers-as-jewlery. According to her, in the very early 90s, French teens–both boys AND girls–were expressing their unique style and flair by wearing small, brightly colored plastic baubles shaped like pacifiers around their neck as a statement of FASH-on. What I now suspect to be true is that Parisian teens had discovered Ecstasy and these pacifiers were prevention against chewing their lips off while rolling face as they rode on the metro, enjoyed baguettes and went a la discotheque. After school that day the girls in my class purchased actual pacifiers from the Baby Care aisle at CVS, strung them on chains and wore them around our necks. The absence of MDMA didnt stop us from believeing that this was an actual cool trend and indicative of the inventive whimsy that was the hallmark of the French.
Mme Rosche was of the unique school of thought that, central to a young person’s comprehension of the French language is a thorough knowledge of French pop music. We learned about young pop sensation Vanessa Paradis (now baby-haver for Johnny Depp), edgy rap star MC Solaar, and or course, Jordy.
Why Jordy Lemoine, of course!
Son of famous music producer Claude Lemoine, Jordy is featured in the Guinness Book of world records as the youngest person ever to have a #1 single, a record achieved at the young age of four with his breakout single “Dur Dur d’Etre Bebe!” (“It’s Tough to Be a Baby!”) It was a sensation in France and to Mme Rosche, important enough to warrant watching this unspeakably awfulvideo in our French class. Press play at your own risk:
This, apparently, is what passes for acceptable music in the country that once gave us Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg.
While I must commend France for an uncharacteristically tolerant attitude towards an interracial relationship, the entire country must have been blowing piles and piles of coke to have made this song the Billboard chart-topper that it was.
When the video was over, my classmates and I sat in stony silence. I felt betrayed by the nation I had beleived I could always count on in matters of taste and class, and shocked that a country that I so admired would have taken part in this sort of tacky cheesiness. Like Baudelaire before me, the reality of France filled me with a deep and penetrating ennui. That night I hung up my pacifier necklace for the last time.