N.B. Update on last week’s Let them eat their Pain au Chocolat: François Fillon will not accept defeat. He and his followers have launched a massive temper tantrum that has kept the UMP squabble on the front pages all week. There are predictions of two-way, three-way, four-way splits, demands for referendum, revoting, and intervention of former(ly disgraced) minister Alain Juppé and ex-president Sarkozy and reports that UMP activists are running off to the new Centrist UDI and, of course, the Front National. I stand by my prediction: the spat will be settled, the wounds will be healed. I think Copé will hold on to the presidency because he knows how to fight to win. To be continued…
Back in her home country, Dispatch International’s correspondent finds that the glow of Obama has worn off leaving disenchantment verging on cynicism
SOMEWHERE IN THE USA.« I did not know that death exile had undone so many… » Our old friend T.S. Eliot didn’t have in mind the stream of Americans of all sizes, shapes, and origins winding through the left to right, right to left, left to right & so on queue waiting to go through passport control at Dulles airport last Thursday afternoon, arriving just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Joined in the baggage claim area by the other stream of non-Americans that had passed through their checkpoint, we got stuck in a bottleneck at customs before finally reaching the arrival hall where greeters held up signs and families came forward to embrace the wayward sons and daughters. A tiny vaguely Oriental looking woman wearing a black sleeveless cocktail dress and a red flower in her hair asked me where I had flown in from. When I said Paris we switched to French and she was reassured… the lines are long… he’ll be getting through soon…
Less than an hour later I am “home” and unpacking the delicacies. Exquisite chocolates, foie gras, elegant little tinned terrines, exotically flavored mustards and, for the fourth generation, a notebook with a period drawing of the top of the Tour Eiffel. He loves it! His grandfather had just given him the other kind of notebook, one of those neither here nor there portable computers that can’t meet our needs but is a high tech delight to an 8 year-old. And he loves both notebooks and the Hanukah gelt from the same French chocolatier that delights his great grandmother. I wish I could have brought them a farm fresh turkey from the open market on boulevard Richard Lenoir. J. says, “If you dressed in a burqa you could bring a turkey and a goat.”
Four generations, stretching from 8 to 102 going on 103. Where did we come from, how did we get here, how did we fare and what’s in store? Europe, USA, some to Israel and back to the USA and a branch back to Europe and exogamy bringing in new shapes and angles and the spirit of adventure sending out tendrils. Here’s a picture of M.’s son, he’s studying in Osaka this year.
Something has changed. Talking politics is no longer forbidden. Because the glow of Obama has worn off, leaving a subdued disenchantment verging on cynicism. The distaste for Mitt Romney and the belief in his evil intentions was the prime mover. Benghazi? Not really a major concern. I don’t want to focus on the election or the candidates—what’s done is done—I want to grasp the contours of the public mind. En famille, why not? Young couples with children today are often not so young. Women postpone childbirth to lock into their careers first. In most cases it takes two wage owners to support a family. But the woman’s salary goes entirely for child care. No publicly funded daycare like we have in France? No. And it doesn’t end there. We have to send our children to private school. The public schools are terrible.