Monday, November 21, 2011

From Chanel to Lord of the Rings in one post...


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...

A bientôt.

January 2012 update: R.I.P. Little Hammy. We will miss you.


  1. Veronique, Fred and Alec -There simply are NO WORDS to express my total sorrow for all of you. I was breathless reading this and cried....not for your things but for the injustice this world throws at us....I will NEVER understand the drive behind such people and you have every right to be angry and wish revenge on them "... an eye for an eye..." I know we only "know" each other from your WONDERFULY BEAUTIFUL blog (which most definitely reflects it's WONDERFULY BEAUTIFUL creator-yet my heart aches for all of you! it is truly heavy and will remain so for this absolute horrific violation-Please remember there is a dear friend out here on the opposite coast sending you her love ,support, strength and thoughts at this moment and all the moments that are to follow. REALLY BIG HUGS to all of you-truly a heartfelt embrace our dearest v

  2. SO SORRY this happened to you Veronique! :(
    It is such an invasion to have one's personal things touched and gone through.
    I do think unfortunately we live in desperate times because of the economy.
    It was like that in the 80's in New York.
    I was first robbed (a NYC christening of sorts back then)and the electrical stuff taken.
    The next time, since that was all gone, they took my collection of designer belts. I was designing belts back then - they threw them in a pillow case and disappeared.
    It's called a 'pushin' evidently.
    Course I was shot by a mugger back then but that's another story.
    You might want to have your dog trained for protection - I did after the latter happened.
    It sounds like they cased your place and knew what to expect...
    But taking so many personal things - so unfair in my opinion.
    Very sorry you lost personal belongings that mean so much to you.
    take care Carolg

  3. Veronique - Like your son, I was/am a sensitive, self-professed "good kid", and I too have trouble wrapping my head around the types of people who do these sorts of things. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed your posts, and how much it saddens me that this happened to you. I hope you will not beat yourself up for missing your things - those possessions aren't just things, they are memories. They have sentimental value, worth so much more than their monetary value. I also hope you will forgive yourself for wishing revenge on these terrible people. They stole so much from you, literally and figuratively, and in your shoes I would be wishing for the exact same thing. What I'm trying to say, very ineloquently, is that you have every right to feel the way you're feeling. I'm sure your emotions will be on a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the time being, and that is perfectly ok. Sending you all the support in the world from the East Coast... Bisous xx

  4. I am so sorry that happened to you. But am so happy that no one was home and every one is well and whole. I have had my share of "Bad Men" experiences...6 different car windows broken and the last time they took my little yellow leather bag that I only used for walking! I'm glad your creative mind has already punished them.

  5. How absolutely awful - I know exactly how that feels when you get home and find your place ransacked and precious items taken, items of sentimental value which cannot be replaced! Your anger is justified, don't even feel guilty about it!! They invaded your privacy, took your goods and left a trail of misery behind them! But....and there is a but, and I know it feels cliche...but fortunately, you and your family are safe, your son is safe, he was not there when it were also out...what a HUGE relief you are all safe...the most important things are safe...

  6. I am so sorry about awful, to say the least. I was never robbed at home, but our car was broken into once on bag stolen, not the lenses nor my camera, and some personal items; nothing I could not replace, but I felt so violated, as you must. I hope they catch them and that you will tell us....

  7. Eh bien, Véronique, quelle aventure!... Mais c'est vrai, vu les photos, ta maison est bien tentante... Il faut la protéger comme elle le mérite.
    Je te plains beaucoup car, voler des souvenirs, c'est encore pire que tout.
    Je te souhaite de bien te rétablir et que justice soit faite.
    Un gros bisou, Véronique.

  8. Chère Veronique, je ne sais comment te dire a quel point ton recit m'a indignée, bouleversée, peinée!Une telle intrusion est toujours terrible, peu importe ce qui est emmené. Mais quand ce sont des souvenirs , des choses sans prix qui disparaissent,comme l'innocence de ton petit garçon, ça n'est pas pardonnable!!J'espère que la malediction de Sauron s'abattra sur ceux qui ont fait ça!(un point commun entre nous, je me refère souvent aux films moi aussi, pour dedramatiser ou encaisser les choses)
    Je peux te proposer une chose: veux tu que je te rephotographie certains endroits que tu as aimés, des lieux qui t'ont particulièrement plu?ça ne sera pas tout à fait pareil, mais ça pourra peut-être reconstituer un petit bout de tes vacances ici.N'hesites pas, si ça peut te faire du bien.Un gros bisou niçois!

  9. Dearest Veronique,

    How SAD... and we know by experience how this feels. Once in Pennsylvania, also just moved in, we got robbed from all my gold rings - heirloom and new ones. In Indonesia we got robbed three times. You feel so bad about the fact that someone intruded into your 'sanctuary'... It doesn't feel the same anymore. Hope you will cope with it.
    You can copy the photo's back from your blog; at least you got something.
    A big hug to you and wishing you lots of strength.


  10. Oh non ! That's awful ! I cannot imagine.

    Too many barbarians running around loose in this world. And we are apparently supposed to feel sorry for them because they were abused as children and grew up in poverty etc etc ad nauseum. I'm sick and tired of seeing stories like this, or worse. It would appear that our current "justice" system doesn't serve as much of a deterrent to many. Am very sad this happened to you, but am glad it wasn't worse than this. Some burglars can turn very nasty if they are surprised in the act. I hope they are caught, and punished. Severely.

  11. Despite the unpleasant nature of this event that happened to your family, your sense of humour hasn't left you. Thank you. I feel for you, and hope that, after all, the thieves will be found.

  12. I am so sorry that this has happened. I cannot fathom how it must feel.
    But I applaud you for being able to write this post with humor :-)

  13. You lost a lot of things ... and we gained a fabulous story! :-)


  14. C'est surtout dommage! If I was home when those Fu-@$#%^&*@#" came into my house- they would have been in bad shape. You have such a positive outlook! I hope you recover your belongings. =)

  15. Merci. Thank you, dear fellow bloggers and friends. Once again, the blogging community rallies up in support of one of their own. I am sincerely touched. Some things are gone and won't be back, but we are in the process of replacing others. The Mac Store - and Ebay - have been a good friends too ;-) I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. French Girl will return in top form on Monday. A bientot-- Veronique

  16. Veronique such a positive spin on a negative side of our societies.........lets hope le fu$%&@#$*&'s
    are dealt your wishes!!!
    So sorry to hear this i hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving all the same.
    Carla x


  18. So sad this happened to your family. Even in adversity, your creative spirit rises to the top. This is a touching post. I hope the Bad Men get their due and that some of your things are found and returned. Smiled at the though of the CC bag hanging off your shoulder. ;-)
    ~ Sarah

  19. I am so sorry that your home was burgled Veronique... so awful, destructive and pointless.... I do hope some of your possessions turn up... But I am very happy that you weren't hurt or harmed in any way... Take care... xv

  20. I am so very glad that you were not harmed but the sense of being violated is hard to shake. I have been robbed twice and walked into my home on the second occassion to see all my belongings stacked up in the foyer. They had run out the back as I came in the front. It made me realize that my children's safety was more important than the things (but I was still mad and sad!)

    I am mad at those fu$%&@#$*&s who burgled you, and hope that they get what is coming to them. Lots of hugs and love coming to you, mon amie! Your sense of humor and creativity cannot be stolen from you.


  21. Everyone else expressed wonderfully what I think too.They didn't hurt the animals so maybe they weren't all bad.(I've heard terrible stories). Somewhere I heard police have a unit to search Craigslist for stolen items(the new pawnshops).
    Better things to come.The other side of the coin. The best wishes.


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle