19 September 2012

No ‘L'esprit de l'escalier' Here

With regard to arrogant remarks or questions illustrated in the following examples, retorts were instantaneous. Responses were always on target. Now we're stuck with a Prince of Fools and a wannabe who have a tendency toward foot-in-mouth disease.

JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, "Does that include those who are buried here?" 
 • • •
When in England at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of 'empire building' by George Bush.

The Secretary answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."
 • • •
An international conference of engineers was being held in France. Included were American and French engineers.

During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, "Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intend to do, bomb them?" 

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: "Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?"
• • •
A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?" 

Without any hesitation, the American Admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's, and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German."
• • •
Robert Whiting, an elderly American of 88, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

"You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready." 

"The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."
"Impossible ... Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!"

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained,   "Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchman to show a passport to."

Times are when direct bluntness is necessary to make a point. French arrogance and American retorts have been around the horn numerous times. They still bring a smirk to my face. Having visited France, I can attest to the truth in their common attitude ... especially in Paris. Out in the provinces the natives are not quite so rude.

If you want blend in with the locals, you may want to cop a Parisian attitude  by adopting an aggressive or antagonistic bearing. Otherwise keep your blood pressure in check and just skip Paris. Besides the food's better outside the city.

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