Louis XIV, by Hyacinthe Rigaud
Guess what! I managed to work in one of the only three jokes I remember more than the punchline to into this post! Yay, me! See if you can find it!
Well, it’s officially summer. Regina Spektor* sings a song about it that starts out, “Summer in the city – it’s cleavage, cleavage, cleavage!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syqLReA_okU&feature=related That seems like a fine “summary” (Yay! A pun!), but it doesn’t quite address the other part of summer, which is MIZ-ER-A-BULL, if you live in, well, most of the continental United States.
I deliver this seasonal rant every year: Summer is so HOT! People die in this heat. It’s like living on Mars. Mars is the one that’s real hot, right? It’s hot when the sun comes up and it’s hot when it goes down, too. Birds walk with their beaks open in pathetic yellow v’s; it’s too hot to fly and they have to be ready, in case, inexplicably, a of drop moisture from unknown origin flings itself down their gullets. Fat chance of that, dummies. (What? Birds aren’t particularly known for their intelligence, are they?) There are bugs EVERYWHERE, in the sky, in the water, even in the grass…what are those little bugs in the grass called again…Chiggers? I think they prefer to be called Chegroes, but that’s not the point; the insects are crazy this year! (Did you see it? Get it? No matter how many times I tell it, it’s still funny, right?! By the way, before you berate, it’s not racist, it’s word play, you know, like Shakespeare did! Racism’s not funny, but Chegroes are hilarious!) The mosquitoes look at me as if I am their takeout order delivered. Just to go into the garden in the morning I have to cover myself in bug spray and slather on the sunscreen, which then makes the mud from the constant watering of the garden cake up all over me, especially between my toes, and, oddly, behind my left ear. When I ride my bike around the lake, even early, perspiration pours from me as if it was on tap. I’m dirty, sweaty and greasy all the time, and I’m sick of it.
I once had a boyfriend – no, really, I did!- who said that I was a closet dirty person. It’s true – my personal hygiene has always been a little questionable, but nobody can ever really tell. For example, is that a lovely golden tan I’m sporting, or just a thin patina of grime? Can’t tell, can ya? Well, I’m coming out of the closet. I’m not bathing for the rest of the summer. I mean really, what’s the point? I’m setting my funk free. Not only that, I’m not wearing anything tight, restrictive or uncomfortable, which pretty much leaves me in a sports bra and man-panties. Grrrr! That’s a whole different kind of hot, right?! It’s summer in the city man; nothing wrong with cleavage, cleavage, cleavage! I haven’t showered in two days, and I’m not going to start now! Join me, people! Let’s not let our actions be dictated by the undeniable forces of nature! Surrender to sweat! Dive into dirt! Grime is groovy! Revel in your own rank ripeness! Who’s with me?
* I believe I have already mentioned that in another of Ms. Spektor’s songs, “Apres Moi”**, she gives a piece of advice I find myself revisiting surprisingly often: “Be afraid of the lame – they’ll inherit your legs.” I don’t really know what she means, but since I’m afraid of so many, many things, I just added this to the list. Better safe than sorry, non?
**As you are probably aware, “Apres Moi”*** is an allusion to Louis XV’s famous qoute, “Apres moi, le deluge,” or “After me, the flood.” I have always quite liked this quote, and have declared it loudly, with a flourish, to the lucky patron’s of various adult beverage establishments, during festive, celebratory periods. Invariably, I get an identical response: I am stared at in an awed silence, then mocked, and subsequently cut off. I have always understood it to mean one of three things: EITHER, “after me, or my reign, there will be chaos and turmoil”, which seems a little harsh to put on a bunch of happy drunks; OR, “after I’m gone, I don’t give a crap if you folks are all swallowed by a flood” – again, kind of a buzzkilll; OR, “after me, everything will be different, like it was after the flood.” This last one suits me, for while I am completely self-aggrandizing and self-centered, I am in no way a mean or spiteful drunk. Louis the one-five, was, by most accounts, a real jerk, but he can kind of be forgiven because he was born into it; he was king by the time he was five years old, and his dad, Louis XIV, who declared himself “the Sun King”, was a real asshole. He ruled for something like 70 years and was an absolute monarch, and while he built France into a major seat of culture and power, he bankrupt the country and levied enormous, crushing taxes on the peasants while exempting the rich from payment. He adhered to the Divine Right of Kings, which says that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, and is granted the right to rule by God Himself. Louis XV’s big quote is “L’etat, c’est moi,” which means, basically, “Oh hells no! I AM the state, bitchez!” Rumor has it that when he gave a ball, nobody was allowed to leave the room as long as he was in it, not even to go to the bathroom. When I visited his castle at Versailles, I noticed that the Great Hall still smells like pee-pee. Still! It’s been 300 years! Louis himself sat on a big throne with a hole cut out at the bottom and a chamberpot underneath. Oh, snap! Clever crapper, right?! This British tour guide I know, Michael 1 (not to be confused with Michael 2, who was also a British tour guide, but so not the same) told me that Louis XIV had hemorrhoids-probably from spending so much time on the toilet, I’m thinking – and that his doctors developed these special needle-nosed poop-hole pincers to remove them. Because everyone at court was supposed to emulate Louis, it became fashionable to have the operation, regardless of whether or not you had the ‘rhoids. Gnarly!!!! (By the way, sometimes in this blog I just repeat what I’ve heard, without actually researching it. I just thought you should know.) Anyhow, neither of these guys was the king who hooked up with Marie Antoinette; that was the next Louis, the XVI. I don’t know anything about his bathroom habits or the state of his sphincter.
***Also in the song, Regina Spektor sings in Russian. I always thought she was just repeating a verse, but, according to the world wide web, she’s quoting a poem by Bruce Pasternak, author of Dr. Zhivago. Some people just make you feel damned uneducated, huh?
BONUS: No discussion of the Louis XIV, XV, or XVI, or of French History, or of monarchies, no matter how cursory, would be complete without the mention of Louis CK. Louis CK, I crown you a king of comedy. You are welcome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u2ZsoYWwJA&feature=related
This image is from Joey Devilla, at joeydevilla.com, under the title, “From Sun Chips to Sun King.” I like this blog. The latest post has a teacher in Korea leading the class in American cursing. You should check it out.