Upside-Down in the Jungle

I spent yesterday sitting in my long-awaited Session d’Information Sur La Vie En France (“Life in France” course), Module 1. I did not learn how to do a champagne toast. Instead, the instructor covered different administrative sectors of the French government, both at the national and state levels.

The theme ran ruthlessly through every sub-topic: France is broke. There are cavernous deficits in all administrative areas. Consequently, people are getting less of everything while paying more and more into the system. Allocations are meager at every level. Unemployment is astronomical, which compounds the other problems. There also seems to be a massive epidemic of bureaucratic disorganization that, from what I could discern in class, is responsible for the slowing down of procedural undertakings for everyone – French and foreigners alike – by way of plain old interference. Processing of all administrative actions is slow. Very, very slow.

This brings to mind my favorite Callaghan quote to date:

“My sloth will not be like their sloth. My sloth will be a different sloth.”

Ezma the Sloth - created and drawn by Callaghan

Ezma the Sloth – created and drawn by Callaghan

Callaghan did not utter these words in the context of the French administration. The subject came up in a recent conversation about how the sloth he’d draw would be nothing like the other cartoon sloths out there… and the sloth he drew after that discussion was indeed his own. Another Callaghan original! We named her “Ezma,” after Bella’s daughter, Renesmee, in The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn – Part 2, which we had the misfortune of seeing the other day.

Now that France’s painfully slow processes and extortion of money from French citizens have been officially noted in the classroom, Callaghan and I have elected Ezma as the face of the administration.

After all, as was also explained yesterday, the French enjoy freedom of expression as long as it’s not “slanderous or injurious”… and we don’t believe that using a sloth to represent the administration violates either of those stipulations, though I doubt President Hollande would appreciate a Zazzle shop carrying t-shirts imprinted with a Sloth replacing the noble Gallic Rooster as the French national emblem. It’s just as well, because I don’t think “Paresseux Gaulois” has the same ring to it as “Coq Gaulois,” even though “Coq Gaulois” sounds, to me, less like an emblem and more like a hearty poultry dish to be paired with a bold red wine.

But where the French administration is concerned, Callaghan has been outraged since the dinosaurs inhabited the earth, so Ezma the Sloth seems like an appropriate representative for it. This is a democracy, right? The people choose. Callaghan stormed to his desk and started on the new Ezma drawing immediately after reading my class notes. Cabernet Sauvignon, anyone?