The Roast Beef Betrayal

After a weekend trip to London, I open my door to find France standing there.

ME:  Why bonjour, France!  I didn’t expect you to be dropping by today.

France shrugs and leans in to kiss me on both cheeks.

FRANCE:  I am out of butter.

ME:  Um…okay, so you came all the way over here for some butter?  It’s not like you live in the building.

FRANCE:  I am France, huh?  I am everywhere.  Mon dieu…toujours le meme.

ME:  Sorry, sorry, come on in.

France marches into my apartment and starts scanning the room.

FRANCE:  It looks like you have been on a trip, non?

ME: Quoi?!

I begin to feel a little uneasy.

FRANCE:  I see your baggage is out.  So you have been on a voyage, I believe.

France pulls a cigarette out and starts to light it.

FRANCE:  I can smoke in here, oui?

ME:  Actually-

France lights the cigarette and walks further into the kitchen.

FRANCE:  I think oui.  So, where is it that you visit on this voyage?

I walk over to the fridge as a trickle of sweat begins to roll down the center of my back.

ME:  Let’s get you that butter.

I curse myself for my shaking voice.

ME:  Nothing but good Breton butter in here…

France stares me down and takes a drag off the cigarette, blowing the smoke back in my face.

FRANCE:  Is that so?  Well, then I must see for myself.

ME:  No, I can get it, don’t bother, it’s nothing-

I’m too late, France is already standing at the door of the open refrigerator, staring in open hostility at one of the shelves.  The cigarette drops to the floor and I hurry to pick it up…France does not seem to even notice.


ME:  France, just calm down a minute, I can explain.

FRANCE:  I welcome you to my country and this is the thanks I get?!

ME:  Well…I think “welcome” is a strong word-


France leans into the refrigerator, pulling out a bottle of ketchup.

FRANCE:  As if theez were not bad enough, theez monstrosity-

ME:  Oh come on, let’s pump the brakes here for a minute.  Americans use ketchup on burgers and fries, but I’ve watched you pour in onto a plate of spaghetti, I mean, you want to talk about gross.

France turns slightly red before getting angry again.

FRANCE:  It is not zee point and you know it!  Always, you are changing subjects.  Let’s talk about the “hippopa-tame-moose” in zee room!

ME:  elephant.

France glares at me and lights another cigarette.

FRANCE:  What do you have to say for yourself?

ME:  It was just a weekend.

FRANCE:  Pffff…I have heard this before.  You think I was born yesterday?  UH?!  For centuries, it is like a “rabb-eet” on my back.

ME:  monkey.

France gives me an irritated look before continuing.

FRANCE:  Once, it was even 100 years straight, do you even know what that is like?  Pfff…of course not, you Americaine.  You have a problem with another country and then you become best friends the next year.  So fickle…perhaps I should not be surprised.

ME:  Aren’t y’all like BFF’s with Germany right now?

FRANCE:  Arret!  You can never just listen, maybe it is true and you do all have this deficit of attention disorder.  We are discussing your betrayal, uh?

ME:  France, come on, I just wanted to check it out.  See what all the fuss was about.

FRANCE:  Just “check it out?”  Well, then what is theez?!

France reaches back into the fridge and throws a wax paper package of cheese at me.  I stammer in response, holding the guilt-ridden cheese.

FRANCE:  FROMAGE!  BRITISH FROMAGE!  You can explain that?!  I cannot explain it, it shouldn’t even exist!  I am so upset, look, you have made me raise my voice…disgusting.  I need a pastis.

France raps on the counter as if ordering a servant.

FRANCE:  Something French, toute suite!  That is, if you still keep French things in your house, TRAITRESSE!

I try to stop myself from rolling my eyes as I reach for the pastis. 

ME:  Don’t you think you are being a little bit dramatic?

FRANCE:  MOI?!  Dramatique?  Pfff…I am France, not LES ROSBIFS!

I can’t help but start laughing at the name the French use for the English.

FRANCE:  I see nothing amusing.

ME:  Roast-beefs?  It’s so funny, come on…you know it is.

France shrugs and takes a sip of pastis.

FRANCE:  Maybe you would like to be a rosbif, huh, yankee?  You two, with your “special” relationship.

ME:  It’s not like that, France.  You know how I feel about you, you read my blog.

France almost spits up a sip of pastis.

FRANCE:  I do not read your blog, you think I have time to read some little blog.  Pfff…

ME:  Then who keeps commenting as “FRANCE #1 4 EVA?”

France looks away and takes a drag off the cigarette.

FRANCE:  How I would know, huh?  Sounds like a name that many people would want to use.

France takes a sip of pastis.

FRANCE: So, what did you do in that horrible, rainy place…Londres?

France says the name with disdain and I bite my tongue as I consider the weather patterns of Paris.

ME:  A lot of touring about, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, The Tower-

FRANCE:  Ah, ze Tower…now this is something that is okay.  You know who built it, oui?  Guillaume the Conqueror – a French man.  Very important, perhaps the most important King in English history, you know?  Really, he practically started the whole country.

ME:  Uh…yeah, sure.  But really it was quite impressive.

FRANCE:  Oui, mais bien sur!

I smile to myself, sensing that France has been mollified.

FRANCE:  Alors, theez cheese…what it is like?  Disgusting, non?

I look at the super delicious Welsh cheese that my husband and I bought in London and know that I can’t tell France that we loved it.

ME:  Nothing compared to French cheese.

FRANCE:  Hmph.

France picks it up and smells it, then opens the package and takes a look.

FRANCE:  Ouais.

France sounds nonplussed but I notice a slight uptick of one eyebrow.

FRANCE: Then, you won’t mind if I just take it.

ME:  What?  Why?

FRANCE:  I thought you didn’t like it, you are now attached to it?

ME:  No, it’s just that-

FRANCE:  I will take it to throw it away, of course.  Pfff…what else would I do with it?

France grabs the cheese and walks back towards the door.

FRANCE:  A bientot, Americaine.

I watch from our front window as France exits the apartment and places the cheese into a jacket pocket while walking past a trash can…and I smile.