Just who might be Valery Giscard d'Estaing?
You might be. You've got the same facial hair, the same lines running down your faces. Problem is, I can't see you well enough to know for sure.
And would you trust Valery Giscard d'Estaing if he said he had two left hands?
How could I trust a name like that? I'm afraid I cannot unless those two left hands were not really his two left hands, but two left hands he has taken from two other unfortunate souls.1
Would you call Valery Giscard d'Estaing a sinister man?
Really now, that's a poor pun.2 But it's true. Despite his distinguished patrimony, his is a personality rife with guile, ulterior motives, and ill-fitting slacks. Boy, Valery Giscard d'Estaing loves ill-fitting slacks.
My apologies for punning. What do you know about the d'Estaing line?
Valery Marie Rene Billy Bob Manogna Giscard d'Estaing is one of several billion men taking up air and space on our planet. Must I go on? His father, Jean Edmond Lucien Giscard d'Estaing, worked as a civil servant. Valery would say he continues his father's work as France's head of state.3 Notable ascendants include his grandfather the near-sighted optologist, Achille Octave Marie Jacques Bardoux, Yip-Yip, the effete, mentally unsound bastard son of King Louis XV, and two extinct noble lines, that of the Vice Admiral d'Estaing and the illustrious Dodo brood.
Does it bother you to remember so much of Valery Giscard d'Estaing's birthline from school?
Not at all. Since my days as a student, when we recited d'Estaing's lineage after it had replaced the Pledge of Allegiance, those words have settled in my head like sawdust. In especially trying times¬≠--including but not limited to rough leather-clad sexual acts--recalling d'Estaing's origins fills me with calm and perspective, to say nothing of its bleak eroticism.
Have you ever wondered what kind of woman d'Estaing would make?
I don't have to. In the war that followed the Night of Split Ends, d'Estaing was forced, much like his revolutionary ascendant, Vladimir Lenin, to disguise himself. One such disguise was Renee Marie, a Southern Baptist nymphomaniac from Mobile, Alabama who thought she was Bridgette Bardot's character in...And God Created Woman. He made a lovely girl who made a lovely case study who made a lovely actress who made a lovely screen debut.
Do you think the experience of cross-dressing helped him get where he is today?
He didn't get anywhere. He's everywhere we would prefer him not to be.
Among the schoolchildren what are some of the more colorful nicknames for Valery Giscard d'Estaing?
Naturally all Frenchmen must bear some degree of teasing. D'Estaing was no exception. When I was in school we would call him all sorts of things. Valery of the Dolls was popular. Of course the generic VGE remains standard shorthand and there is the ominous l'Ex, but my favorite remains the tongue-in-cheek Righty.
Where were you during the Night of Split Ends?
The details are fuzzy.4 I was young and impressionable.
I cannot recall that evening either except that it was very warm and clear. What do you miss?
Open spaces and five o'clock shadows. Down-the-line backhands, line drawings, political alignments. It makes my hairs stand on end, the remembering.
I'm sorry to hear that about your hair. Is a shave necessary?
Not at all. I shaved yesterday. I'll let you know if I'm at razor's edge.5
Are you afraid he'll find us here?
Ever since he found a way to be everywhere we prefer him not to be, I have gone about my life like a dodo, assuming a relaxed puttering that belies the slow and dreamy realization of all dodos: we are made and meant to grow extinct. That is the oneness of dodo and the oneness Valery has assumed. Besides, there's no window or door. How could he get in? I'm not certain how we came to be here in this space either.
That's not for you to worry. Does this mean we are to become d'Estaing?
We don't need such questions. Mind you this is no question of faith. He's already taken the space faith occupies and has hollowed it out with his hair.
Like a pipe cleaner?
You could say that, though your understanding of the oneness of Valery remains rudimentary.
I understand you've been writing letters to d'Estaing. Why?
I have it on great information that he's my estranged neighbor. He babysat me until I was ten.
But how can he be estranged from you? He's everywhere we wish he wouldn't be.
When you walk down the streets what do you see?
VGE. How can I not see him? He's everywhere now.
Exactly. That's all I see too. People walking around with his face on, with his ill-fitting slacks and uncertain gait. I no longer know if Valery inhabits the space our bodies lie in or if we've awoken and found ourselves plotted on Giscardian coordinates. What I'm certain of is that I don't know these Valery-men, or our d'Estaing'd women. Most of all I know nothing of the man we call Valery Giscard d'Estaing, nothing except he was mild and diffident towards my watching of Saturday morning cartoons.
You look like you have something to tell me.
I have nothing to say, only that my stomach's grumbling.
I know it is. Does your stomach have anything to say?
No. He's usually shy and equanimous.
Maybe he's hungry?
He might be, but I'm not.
You should listen to your body. What is he saying?
He's being paranoid. His name's Donnie. So anyways, Donnie's saying he feels like someone's been watching him. He also wants us to know that he wasn't grumbling. He was growling.Like a good dog?
Donnie's hurt you'd say that about him. He's worried about something. Donnie thinks someone's sneaking around. He keeps growling and roiling his acids. I feel torn at my seams.6
I don't know what to say.
It's ok. It hurts to talk. I'm really sorry you brought me here. I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm sorry. I think he's coming. I know it isn't my fault but I'm sorry. When he comes, can you make sure he doesn't eat my husk?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I won't let him.7 I won't let it happen. It's not your fault. It isn't our fault. It won't happen. Are you still listening? Try to look at me. Eye contact's important. Maintain posture and eye contact. It's imperative for survival, for good interviewing. Your eyes are still yours. Did I tell you you have beautiful brown eyes? He won't take them. He can't. He babysat you. Babysitters don't do things like this. I'm sure he remembers you. Your eyes are not too big for your face. I don't know who'd say that to you. Did he say that when he babysat you? Did he hurt you when you two were alone? Please. Listen. Look at me. Try to. Try to hold the line of eye contact. Don't forget this is still an interview. Hang on. It's only an interview. Listen up. Look alive.
1. In fact, d'Estaing was born with ambisinistrimanuism, the unfortunate, non life-threatening condition whereby one has two left hands. I'm sorry to say that d'Estaing is right-handed.
2. Sinster comes from the Latin sinistra, meaning left. The etymology of our fear and disdain for left-handers comes from latinate propaganda, the best kind of propaganda.
3. This is not the first time d'Estaing has paralleled himself with Jesus of Nazareth. In college he wore his hair long, walked everywhere barefoot and was given to sermonizing on the mountains. Unfortunately when asked to perform, the best d'Estaing could manage miracle-wise was turning wine into water after he stole alcohol from a frat party. What happened to the water I do not know, but it's said that this d'Estaing tonic can cure baldness and restore vision. Others say the water looks brown and is unfit for consumption.
4. I'll say! I remember little of Nuit du Cassee myself. My dog was present and when d'Estaing became omnipresent I cannot say whether it was my pup's pee or my own running down my shin. My dog clutched at the leash I held in my hand and together we ran home. Later that night I dreamt someone had been tickling my ear for hours.
5. To be found with any measurable amount of hair, be it on the subject's body or pocketed away in stashes, is a crime punishable by quartering.
6. An effective method of torture, and ultimately, assimilation used by d'Estaing to silence malcontents. Known colloquially as Giscard quartering. Valery takes one of his more limber hairs and inserts it into the subject's brain (the ear is the point of entry). Said hair incubates for anywhere from seven to twenty-two days. When it is ready, the hair hatches and releases Valery Giscard into the host's body. The husk of the subject's body falls into four neat pieces which the newly minted d'Estaing feasts upon for nourishment (I imagine it's hungry work to infiltrate another body).
7. There are times when d'Estaing claims a loved one and for whatever reason those who loved the loved one snatch the four quarters of the husk for themselves. I've read reports of men wearing the shells of their women, wandering the now-extinct lines and borders of our former countries, walking on and away. Whether this is an act of protest, devotion or insanity, I cannot say.