This post is not part of the French Icon series. In fact, you may find this story somewhat surprising. It was born out of unforeseen circumstances; some drama; frustration and stress. It may be R-rated. I apologize in advance for the occasional bad language. It felt good to use it when I wrote the story.
-- French Girl.
Last week, as I was out celebrating a girlfriend's birthday down the street, Bad Men broke into my house and ransacked most of the upstairs rooms. Loot in hand, they took off after less than 30 minutes (according to the police,) leaving behind a huge mess, and many hours of heartache and headache for our family.
This was not our first "residential burglary." Fifteen years ago, a few weeks after we arrived from France, other Bad Men stole most of our belongings-- except for clothing (they were not into French fashion it seems.) We never retrieved them. This was an unforgettable way of starting our new life in America. Welcome to the United States, Frenchies! But we, immigrants are a tough breed. We endured (our insurance policy helped a lot,) we thrived, and we are still here.
|Other resilient immigrants (and I bet they did not have insurance!)|
Funny how one does not forget going through such an experience. As soon as I entered the house last Monday, and noticed the dog was outside on the back deck, (where I had not left her,) and the unlocked patio door, I knew something was up. I went through the moves methodically; checked the house was empty; and called for help. That 911 deal is great invention, by the way. You can guess what I have been doing since: talking to the police, the insurance company, calling pawn shops, digging out old receipts, telling the neighbors and friends about the incident, so the same thing does not happen to them.
|The Yellow Dog was barking outside... outraged!|
(old family photo)
I also had a long talk with my 11-year old son when he came home after school. As an empathetic and caring child, he had a hard time understanding why people would do such a thing (he lost, among other "treasures", his brand-new bike and his favorite art kit.) I realize Junior, like many kids in this neighborhood and this country, leads a privileged life. Most of what he lost can - and will be - replaced. Still, for a Montessori kid who spends a few hours each week doing community work (just this month, knitting hats and scarves and doing some woodwork for a local shelter; collecting food and clothing for Hopelink,) it is hard to put your head around the concept of "evil."
So I got mad. Very mad. The Bad Men did not just steal things. They stole a little bit of my kid's innocence. They stole my photos, beloved memories of this year's summer travels when they took my laptop because I had not backed-up my data since then. If you have been following this blog for a while, you know what that trip to Nice meant to me. The Bad Men took Heaven (or as most people know it, Eze-Village) from me. Fun times on la Côte d'Azur only exist in my head and on this blog now. They took all the costume jewelry, twenty five years' worth of family gifts and souvenirs from my travels. The watch my parents got me for my 30th birthday? Gone. The vintage earrings I found in Sarlat? Gone.
I know, I know. How materialistic of me. Some people have nothing, and here I am, moping over pieces of costume jewelry? I am FRENCH, people! Of all the stereotypes I hear in this country about my countrymen, one, at least, is true: French women know and love accessories. So sue me.
Since there was no sign of forced entry, and the Bad Men went past the Yellow Dog, we started suspecting all the people knew how to get inside the house. A house-sitter. The cleaning service. Contractors. The police wanted names, and phone numbers. That is probably the worst part about this, right? Making you suspect people you used to trust. Giving their names away. That made us even more mad at the Bad Men, or as Le Husband and I have been calling them for a week: "Fu-@$#%^&*@#" - in French and in English. We are bilingual, people. We can be creative when swearing. At times, we both looked and sounded a bit like this guy...
|Captain Haddock, the Adventures of Tintin (French version)|
|Captain Haddock (English version)|
Getting back to the burglary, we think les Bad Men, whoever they were, went past this ominous sign first - Wait, they did not speak French of course! Besides, could they even read at all, les morons?!
Then, they somehow got inside the house, with all doors locked but no alarm on (my mistake - won't happen again -) sneaked past the dog and kicked her outside. Some of my neighbors are afraid of the Yellow Dog and would not have attempted that manoeuver!
|"One step forward and I will lick your face off!"|
Come to think of it, they probably scared the living daylights out of the cat, too.
Lucky for them, Felix, aka "The Puma" was out for the morning. I almost wish he had been there. When he gets miffed, even the dog and Junior stay out of the black devil's way!
|Merde, Felix, where were you when I needed you around?|
There is another little soul living in our house. His name is Hammy. Junior keeps him close by, in his bedroom. I ran upstairs to make sure the Bad Men - or Felix-the-Puma - had not tampered with his cage. Surely, this sign would have protected him...
I need not have worried. Hammy was doing what he does best when I arrived...
|Sleep tight, little friend. The Bad Men are gone now!|
Once I knew all our furry friends were safe, I started inspecting the damage. You could hardly step inside our bedroom and bathroom... there was stuff all over the floor, open drawers, etc. It was a dismal sight, and my heart sank. The police arrived a few minutes later, and the whole circus got in motion. It has been a whole week already.
On the bright side, (let's focus on the positive, shall we?) our friends rallied up once again. They brought us dinner on the night of the burglary; breakfast (and flowers) the following morning. There were offers to go and visit pawnshops with me. We received many phone calls, emails and messages. Merci, les amis.
Once the dust settled, we tried to identify all missing things. I learned a bit more about the Bad Men, a.k.a. the "Fu-@#$%^&$#@"
I learned that they were likely young men, desperate for quick cash. I know there was no woman in that group, because even though they lucked out when dumping my costume jewelry collection in a large bag, taking away two sets of Chanel accessories, they still left without noticing other valuable items. I was dumbfounded to find my most prized possession, a Chanel evening shoulder bag, still sitting inside its gorgeous box, in the master closet. Now, it is not the fanciest and most expensive bag out there, but what happened? Were they trying to add insult to injury, or were they too stupid to spot what is, after all, one of the most recognized logos in the world?
|You have good taste, Michka Barton!|
I have to admit I realize I am not a good Christian because I have thought of many ways to punish the "Fu-@#$%$^#&;%" over the last few days.
A favorite would be to let "Mademoiselle," a.k.a. Gabrielle Chanel, deal with them, since they blatantly ignored my handbag, thus insulting the great "Coco" and her creations. I know she could take them down without even breaking a single one of her impeccably manicured fingernails.
|Do not mess with Mademoiselle!|
Wait... What do you mean "Old Chanel is dead and she can't harm a fly?!"
Well, how about I ask her successor, Karl Lagerfeld, to deal with the little scumbags? Would you get in a fight with this famously talented [but cranky] egomaniac?
|My name is Karl, and I am a badass!|
Non. That would be too easy. We need to make a bigger statement. After all, how many lives have the "Fu-@#$%^&*@" disrupted already? How many more before the year is over?
My friends know I watch A LOT OF movies. Life situations, either tragic or comical, always - always - remind me of a movie.
Truth be told, when I look at that cute little Chanel bag (the one they left behind,) I feel maternal and entirely too possessive... a little bit like Gollum with his ring. Do you remember Gollum, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy?
|"Precious, my Precious..."|
So here is what I wish for all of you, "Fu-@#$%%^&@":
May the evil eye of Mordor fall upon you, today, tomorrow, or next week.
May you be brought to the Dark Lord Sauron's land of Mordor; dumped into the mines of Monia where you will slave away, watched over by cruel Orcs; and finally dropped into the fire of Mount Doom.
Should you somehow, manage to escape, stay away from the peaceful Shire I live in. You are not welcome here.
The Shire will be well protected from now on. Aragorn and Legolas are standing guard. Only fools would defy them.
Oh, and beware of peaceful, gentle, fun-loving hobbits. There is no telling what they will do when their friends, families or homes are threatened...
January 2012 update: R.I.P. Little Hammy. We will miss you.