Our peripatetic secretary of state has been working her pants(uit) off in recent weeks, squiring Netanyahu and Abbas to the negotiating table to hash out their Middle East disagreements. A cakewalk when compared to the patch-up job that could be Hillary’s next:
Thawing the ice between the American and French first ladies.
I’m thinking Michelle Obama – right about now – is wishing the French president and his wife were on an official visit to Washington just so she could plant one of her stilettos into Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s mouth. Or – with her foot propelling it – into some other anatomical region of Madame Sarkozy’s bodacious supermodel’s bod (the polite term here – why, it happens to be the French also, what a coincidence! – is derriere).
Both first ladies are suffering the mutual embarrassment of Big Mouth Disorder. Here’s the 411:
When, during a visit to the White House last spring, Carla asked Michelle how was life as wife of the president, Michelle’s Big Mouth prompted her to reply:
“Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!”
Thanks to Carla’s Big Mouth, this remark – accurate or not – ended up in a biography of Carla, “Carla et les Ambitieux” (Carla and the Ambitious), released last week.
Élysée Palace denies Michelle said it; the White House and French Embassy are also denying Michelle said it.
Some suspect, however, that the quote did indeed slip from Michelle’s Big Mouth.
The way her husband’s poll numbers are now, if he doesn’t stop tanking, voters might be only too willing, in two years, to relieve the beleaguered first lady of the duties about which she allegedly complained.
A second biography of Carla appeared in French bookshops last week. Yet it’s not the unauthorized bio but rather the one that she allegedly cooperated in the writing of that’s creating migraines for madame. She’s denying having cooperated with its two authors, despite having given them a series of taped interviews over an 18-month period.
“The Nicolas-Carla love story has gripped our attention at every unlikely twist and turn,” blogged Elizabeth Day for the Guardian last Sunday. “And like all the best fictional lovers, their partnership has been defined by one overriding question: What is she doing with him?
“…[W]hen they met at a dinner party in 2007, we are told the attraction was instant. After a string of lovers, including Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton […] Bruni had declared her intention to pursue a man of ‘nuclear power’.
“Sarkozy had at his disposal more than 350 nuclear warheads.
“It was a fusion made in heaven. Within a month, they were posing for Paris Match in the Élysée palace, complete with Rolex watches. Sarkozy, who had sailed into power with 53% of the vote and was cresting the wave of popular approval, seemed overly pleased with his new-found celebrity status. The press dubbed him ‘President Bling-Bling’.”
And now, Madame Bling-Bling has possibly gone and done a ding-a-ling thing that is more than a mere faux pas. If things aren’t ironed out between the two women and soon, this has all the potential to become an international incident. Worse, the captivating Carla may not get invited back to the White House while the Obamas are still in residence. C’est inimaginable!
The consumption of croissants, chocolate éclairs, camembert, and brie might become verboten.
French actresses including Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche might be banned from Hollywood. Incroyable!
The price of imported French wines might skyrocket.
We may revert back to calling them “freedom fries”. Mon Dieu!
A cultural war could be about to ignite. Will the French surrender this time? Again? Zut!
Hillary, somebody, anybody: Get in there and separate the presidential wives!
Of course, this all raises the delicate etiquette regarding when to open one’s Big Mouth and spill secrets and when to keep one’s Big Mouth shut, particularly in the realm of book publishing:
When filling your autobiographical pen with poison ink and ambushing those you hate and detest, there are two ways to do it. One is to wait until the subject(s) of your ire is/are dead. Take, for example, Christina Crawford. She waited until after the welts from the wire hangers had subsided – and after the maternal witch/Hollywood-glamour-queen who had inflicted them on her was dead and buried – before infamously damning for all time her mommie dearest.
The other (and easily more sinfully-delightful way) is to skewer your enemies while they’re still alive and able to read, fume over, and maybe even suffer an unfortunate cardiac episode from the nasty stuff you wrote about them on pages 24, 38, and 213 through 301. A notorious example of this poison-pen style came after Nancy Reagan implored her husband to fire his chief of staff, Donald Regan (who reportedly pissed off la prima dona by doing the unthinkable: hanging up the phone on her). After his dismissal, how did Regan get even? By trash-talking about his former boss’s wife in his published memoirs. Nancy with the Laughing Face – denied the last laugh – seethed.
Or you could choose a third, but rarer, option – wait till you’re BOTH dead. And that is, indeed, the option that was taken with a book that the literary world is anxiously awaiting the November release of, a tell-all from one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time. Memoirs that all the world has been anticipating for a century. Literally.
Its author will not witness it as it rolls off the presses. There will be no autographed copies (and if you find one, WHAT a hoax!). No bookstore appearances. No guest spots on Oprah.
You see, exactly 100 years ago, the author died. His memoirs have been locked in a vault for all that time, under his specified instructions not to be published until a century after his passing.
It is now time for the University of California at Berkeley to flip the switch on its printing presses and the first copies to slide off the conveyor belts. Copies of the first volume of…
The Autobiography of Mark Twain.
Yep, that Mark Twain. The one and the same. America’s most acclaimed humorist and one of its greatest writers. Creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. At long last, after keeping us waiting, the great Twain will now reveal all.
What a master of publicity! Now, that’s publicity. Manage to keep ‘em talking about you a century after you took your final bow and made your final exit.
Some scholars believe he wanted to keep the wraps on his memoirs for that long in order to not offend any mentioned friends and acquaintances. Others think he did so because he wanted to air religious and political opinions that might, if contemporaneously revealed, tarnish his public reputation.
One section will reportedly detail his little-known, yet scandalous, relationship with the secretary who became his lover following his wife’s death, in his last decade. He recounts their ill-fated affair and his bitter charge that she had designs on securing the power of attorney over his estate.
“Most people think [he] was a sort of genteel Victorian,” historian Laura Trombley told The Independent newspaper. “Well, [here] he calls her a slut and says she tried to seduce him. It’s completely at odds with the impression most people have of him.
“There is a perception that Twain spent his final years basking in the adoration of fans. The [book] will perhaps show that it wasn’t such a happy time. He spent six months of the last year of his life writing a manuscript full of vitriol, saying things that he’d never said about anyone in print before. It really is 400 pages of bile.”
But bile that people will race to their Barnes & Nobles to buy up. Just watch it climb the best seller lists. Watch avid book lovers request it on their Christmas wish lists.
When I took an autobiography course in college years ago, I was not fortunate to have Samuel Langhorne Clemens’s memoirs to study as a template. But in a few weeks, we’re going to be treated to a lesson – especially those planning on penning their own memoirs – on how to really diss people, taught by a guy who’s been a-moldering in the ground for the last 100 years.
Payback is one mean bitch, ain’t she? Even from the grave.