Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Downfall of an ex-Beauty Queen

How can I say this without sounding vain and arrogant…

I used to be very beautiful when I was young. Not just pretty or cute, cause most young people are good-looking by the simple virtue of their youth. No, I was drop-dead gorgeous, the type of beauty that makes people walk into lampposts. Two real I-swear-to-God anecdotes to prove my claim. Geneva 1970s : I was working as a tour guide when I was accosted by a man claiming to be the Vice-president of the Miss World Competition Secretariat in England (he gave me his business card as proof). He asked me to write to him for the official entry forms so that I could get the necessary sponsors and become a contestant. Montreal 1980s : I was being followed on the street by a persistent admirer, so I found a policeman and complained to him : «Officer, this man is following me and pestering me!». The cop answered : «Can’t say I blame him!». He shooed the other guy away, then turned to me and asked for my phone number.

Now that I have established my claim as a beauty queen, let’s get to the real point of this post: looks do matter. Because of the way I was raised (very strictly), I was never really aware of my good looks nor did I know how to take advantage of them. I grew up thinking that people are naturally kind and helpful, traffic agents are normally forgiving and bus drivers always, always stop their bus and wait if they see you running from afar. It is well known however that good looking and/or tall people get promoted more often and are considered as more honest and trustworthy in polls. I've learned recently that parents tend to favour their better looking children over the homely ones. Yes, looks do matter and I was Queen of the world.

That world started crumbling as soon as I reached menopause. I inflated like a blimp and started losing my hair. Men no longer stare with open mouth when I walk in a room and customs agents are now demanding that I open my suitcases instead of waving me by with a smile like before. And I still get startled when I suddenly catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror because I don't recognize my reflection.

Last weekend I hit rock bottom. I went to a beauty salon to have my hair done. As he was washing my hair, the shampoo boy was chatting with another apprentice working at the sink next to us. Since he wasn't paying attention, he splashed my face with water. Without even turning off the water, he mumbled some apologies, grabbed a towel and started wiping away my makeup. Normally, it takes a lot to make me angry. Years of being «ugly» after my days of glory have cut me down a few notches and made me more tolerant and forgiving. But this time, I howled such a string of curses that the salon went suddenly silent and the owner came running to apologize and liberate me from the oaf. When I finally left the salon, my hair was dried and coiffed, but half of my face had no makeup and the other half was all smudged up. In other words, I must be the only woman in the world that leaves a beauty salon uglier and scarier-looking than when she first went in.

Don't hate me cause I'm not beautiful!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Les perles du bac

Repris d'un article d'Éric Fottorino paru dans Le Monde d'aujourd'hui:

Pour le plaisir, sans cruauté aucune, sourire aux lèvres, on s'est offert une petite tranche de rigolade avec les perles du bac, qui s'enfilent joyeusement sur la Toile. Millésimées 2004 (en attendant le cru en cours), elles donnent une idée de ce que peuvent découvrir les examinateurs...

L'histoire est manifestement un grand champ de créativité pour les candidats. Parmi les affirmations détonantes, nous avons relevé que "Napoléon III était le neveu de son grand-père" , que les pères de la révolution russe se nommaient "Lénine et Stalone" . Que, "privé de frites, Parmentier inventa la pomme de terre"...

Si l'on remonte vraiment dans le temps, on peut encore apprendre que "les empereurs romains organisaient des combats de radiateurs" (des combats très chauds, on suppose). Clovis mourut "à la fin de sa vie" et Charlemagne "se fit châtrer en l'an 800" .

En sciences naturelles, il est intéressant d'apprendre que, "pour faire des œufs, la poule doit être fermentée par un coq" . Encore mieux : "les escargots sont tous des homosexuels" et "les calmars géants saisissent leurs proies entre leurs gigantesques testicules" , tandis que "l'artichaut est constitué de feuilles et de poils touffus plantés dans son derrière" .

On est aussi très heureux, et édifié, de savoir que, "pour mieux conserver la glace, il faut la geler" , et que 1 kilo de mercure "pèse pratiquement 1 tonne". Au rayon des mœurs étrangères, précisons qu'autrefois "les Chinois n'avaient pas d'ordinateurs car ils comptaient avec leurs boules".

Dans le concert des "têtes", il en est qui dépassent la moyenne avec ces assertions logiques : "Le cerveau des femmes s'appelle la cervelle" ; "le cerveau a deux hémisphères, l'un pour surveiller l'autre" ; "le cerveau a des capacités tellement étonnantes qu'aujourd'hui pratiquement tout le monde en a un".

Ouf ! On allait presque en douter, surtout en lisant cette bourde, qui vaut 20/20 : "La datation au carbone 14 permet de savoir si quelqu'un est mort à la guerre." Et cette dernière : "La terre rote sur elle-même." Là, il y a un hic !

Thursday, June 16, 2005

America the Beautiful

A colleague at work, having read my blog, accused me of being anti-american. I glibly replied: «Aren't we all?», but I felt bad afterwards for acting as if her opinion were not worthy of a more intelligent answer.

So, anonymous colleague [Let's call her Lisa S., or better yet, L. Simpson], here's - belatedly - your more intelligent answer.

During the 60s, I was living in what used to be called Saigon. My family was relatively well off, so we supported the government in power and the US occupation of Vietnam. My grandpa especially was a fervent admirer of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. My classmates and I were too young and too stupid at the time to understand politics or care about it, but we used to ogle those handsome GIs that were milling about in Saigon and we listened to US music every afternoon (and yes, to that Good Morning Vietnam guy). So you could say that whatever bitterness I have against the United States, I did not develop until much later on.

I'm not going to list all the sins and the stupidities of the present American administration, they are well documented on the Internet and in the foreign (i.e. non-American) press. Since the Vietnam War, I've learned to accept that every country acts to protect what it considers to be its best interests and that non-whites can be mass murdered by whites without any hope for redress or justice, at least during my lifetime. I also used to believe that somehow, the United States are special and that, being the only superpower left, they can afford to actually walk their talk. For if you are the strongest, richest, most influential country in the whole frigging world, shouldn't you also be the freest, most generous, most tolerant country? The centre of the universe, where people from every where else would want to congregate to bask in your wisdom and your glory? HAH! Big frigging HAH!

And that's why I am anti-american. Just as I think that women can be as stupid as men, but stupidity is forgivable in women because most of them are kept uneducated and ignorant, while men have all the chances and opportunities to become enlightened and yet they remain just as stupid.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Michael Jackson

Bien sûr qu'il est coupable.

Bien sûr qu'il est pédéraste et pédophile, c'est évident: 99% de ses photos publicitaires le montrent en compagnie de jeunes garçons. La famille de proxénètes qui l'a traîné en justice n'a pas obtenu satisfaction mais ses autres victimes ont été richement dédommagées et se tiendront coi. Bien sûr qu'il y a une justice différente pour les riches et les puissants. O.J. Simpson l'a bien démontré.

Bien sûr que l'avenir sera difficile pour sa dernière victime, qui aura non seulement à survivre le cirque médiatique, mais aussi à faire face à ses camarades d'école et surtout à ses parents qui l'ont vendu à tous les niveaux et sur tous les plans. Il y aura sans doute un film, et sûrement un livre-confession de la mère éplorée, à temps pour les fêtes.

Et pourtant, malgré tout, je suis contente que le jury ait pris la décision qu'il a prise, car un séjour en prison l'aurait complètement détruit, physiquement et mentalement. Tant de talent gaspillé...

Cake or Death? - Part Deux

Last week, I had to leave town for a few days (no, the CIA wasn’t on to me, nor was the RCMP…yet). I took the train on the way out and the plane on the way back. Let’s compare the experiences.

I arrived at the train station 10 minutes before departure time, waited 10 minutes in line and boarded quickly by showing my pre-bought ticket (first class). Found my seat without any problem and started reading the plentiful papers and magazines that were thoughtfully displayed right at the entrance of my wagon. The train departed on time and two minutes later, somebody was pushing a cart along the aisle offering us (free) refreshments: wine, beer, juice, munchies, etc, along with a menu. On her way back, she took our orders. Fifteen minutes later, dinner was served: green beans and asparagus salad, grilled salmon served on a bed of couscous with roasted vegetables, three kinds of cheese, then a fruit mousse for dessert. Wine flowed freely during the meal, followed by brandy or Porto. On arrival, I quickly left the train and easily found my way to the taxi station where a cab took me to my hotel door in five minutes.

I had to leave for the airport two hours in advance of my flight: one hour to get to the airport (because my departure time coincided with the rush hour downtown) and one hour for security checks. My bag went through the x-ray machine, but I also had to show my boarding pass and an ID, take off my jacket (two passengers had to remove their shoes) and go through a metal detection gateway before walking for kilometres looking for the departure gate. There was some delay, so we had to wait for another half hour, sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs where a nervous passenger shook the whole row with his twitching legs. We eventually boarded, but not before showing our pass and our ID one more time. My seat? First row, right next to the emergency exit, of course, which meant: 1) no window, 2) no access to my handbag during the flight because there was no seat in front of me under which to place the bloody handbag so it had to be put away in the bin above the seats, 3) I was in charge of opening the door in case of a plane crash and 4) the bathrooms are way in the back, but I would have to climb over two other passengers’ laps anyway to go pee. There were no meal or any such nonsense, although we were offered coffee or soft drinks. After the plane landed, there were some curses or something that prevented the doors from being opened right away so we had to stand in the aisle for ten minutes with the air circulation turned off (but not the elevator music). Then, once we got into the terminal, we had to – again – wander aimlessly for kilometres, going up and down elevators, before reaching the luggage carrousels. More wait, then off to the taxi stations where I had to haggle the rate with the taxi driver. And finally, after half an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic, home sweet home.