The Meeting

The Meeting

A Story by Bourbon Key

An American In Paris Understands Why France is not romantic.


Joe Zosima sat in the steamy and hot room on the west side of a non-descript building at 16h one early summer afternoon and waited for his colleagues to arrive.  He was still a little drunk from the more than ample serving of wine at Les Aigles, a restaurant near the building in which he worked at La Capute.  The sun's rays were pouring into the room, the automatic blinders nor the air conditioning worked, and his colleagues were late.

He was forming a song in his head and mentally adding drum beats and basslines to it.  The song was based on a phrase he heard once from a fellow ex-colleague at Layman Brothers.  To be specific, his ex-colleague, Larry Weinstein, once said to Joe that, "The same things that make a French bank lame, make it sort of cool."  And these were his thoughts as he lazily dozed off into a Parisian post lunch and wine slumber in the hot room.

the lyrics he was constructing were nothing deep, and, like the other electronic music that he adored, served as nothing more than ethereal yet repetitive background chants and mantras to the overwhelming basslines.  His mental composition went as follows:

"The same thing...the same, the same thing that...the...the....the the same thing"

Boom...Boom Boom Boom....tsk tsk tsk....

Joe envisioned slow 4/4 basslines creeping up on this tune as if to explode into a crescendo like a contemporary entree to a summer dance anthem at a hot St. Tropez nightclub.  The words woudl come out as while faux hip hop scratching sound occurred in the back ground....

then, he imagined it would be silent while the whole sentence were revealed...

"The same thing that makes a French bank suck......"

then silence for a few seconds....later...

"Make it kinda a cool....Yo!"

then, he imagined the dropping down of an immense bassline accompanied by some eerie background electronic string samples.....

He then thought of adding the voice of a sultry female French woman into the tune. He also decided that the voice uttering the French Bank Mantra would possess a certain raspy low-toned African American flavour to it. And this would be juxtaposed with the sultry and soft French Female voice,

"The same thing that makes a French Bank suck!…makes it sort of cool…ya!"


Joe decided that the female voice would serve as a very quick and concise refreshing refrain to the male voices supposition. He became very enthusiastic about the new tune, and vowed to spend at least three hours on it when he returned to his computer in a small office overlooking a garbage dump on the east side of the building.

Just as these pleasant thoughts of artistic creation were settling into his mind, Jerome de Chat entered the room.

"Ah, shjoe! you are here!  bien. We wait for the others, no?" Jerome suggested.

"Er, hi Jerome, yeah, I guess people are a little late....must be coffee time, no?" responded Joe with a mild dose of sarcasm.  In the meantime, his tune, which was bouncing around in his head as he imagined scantily clad models dancing around him at some unknown club in the Cote d'Azure, slowly died like a record on a turntable whose power had just been unplugged.

"hahahhaa, mais oui, yes, it is coffee time....." Jerome looked at his watch and immediately verified that it was in fact, precisely the coffee time for the entire bank.  

Actually, it was the coffee time for about 60MM people and everyone took this break at exactly the same time.  It meant that scores of people would be waiting in line for their coffee at the machines down on the 6th floor of the building. 

Slowly, a parade of young french people entered the room as they jabbered about many things. They were laughing, drinking their cafe out of small brown plastic cups, and seemed to not notice that they were late. Joe was slightly annoyed, but his solace lay in the fact that a new tune came into being from this work lull, this not so infrequent lull.

De Chat told a joke in French, obviously related to the tardiness of their arrival, and everyone laughed except for Joe. Joe was the slightly ill-placed American with the typically abominable French Language skills.

They all sat down, and the meeting began. Out of respect for Joe, the meeting was in English.

De Chat, the managing director responsible for the implementation of several multi-million dollar projects, began the meeting.

"Alor....uh, we have another meeting after this one to go over the specifications for the mis-en-place of the re-organization of the meeting schedules for the mis-en-place of the repartitions of the work flows for the new organization.  er, yes, we need to plan how the next meetings will go, and, alor, ah....I am looking at this work schedule and all of the arbitrations of discussions from the outcome of the last committee on semi-exotic planning, and, alor, I see we need another meeting on this, Patrice?"  He then looked up over his old glasses at a young man sitting to his right.  

The young man looked consummately uninterested in anything being descussed, but, alas, he did in fact have many things to add to the response. "er, mais, Jerome, as you know, we formed a committe on semi-exotic meetings to go over this implementation, and, I am comfortable that if I repartition the committe into some subcommittees, and possibly reorganise, we can arrive at the good solution.  Jerome, do you agree that I can break up my team further so that we have some responsibles, some sub-managers who can deal with some of these issues.  Here is my new org chart by the way."

Patrice handed Jerome an org chart that, to Joe, looked like pretty much the same graph as the larger org chart of the department he was immersed in.  In fact, Joe, for a flicker of a moment, surmised that the global org chart of the bank had a certain fractal pattern quality to it, and that, independent of the node in the tree that you looked at, the branches looked the same, and, they looked very deep in his mind.  Patrice was at the top of the org chart.  He had two deputies and five direct reports.  under the five direct reports were an array of engineers and programmers.  And Patrice was several layers and fairly junior to the main man running the fractal leaf organization that Joe, little Joe Zosima, was a part of.

De Chat examined the org chart that was presented to him. He then spent thirty minutes going through every branch of the chart, which precipitated a fairly heated debate amongst De Chat, Patrice, and three other young French Colleagues. De Chat wanted to cut, transpose, and slice layers of the chart. The others exclaimed "oo-la-la" and rolled their heads into the backs of their heads, not so much due to the shear preposterous nature of the analysis, but, because of their collective protestations of De Chat's intentions. This went on for a long time, while Zosima pondered a number of things. The first thing he thought of was math. De Chat's actions on the org chart reminded him of a group action on a tree. And since the org chart had a modicum of symmetries, he internally chuckled at the thought that the modifications proposed by the dictatorially inclined De Chat left the diagram invariant. The org chart looked exactly the same to Zosima after every argued-over transposition proposed by the older and more powerful De Chat. The only difference to Zosima lay in the names of the peons that populated the non-descript functions on the nodes of the chart. Of course, to Zosima, who purposely refused to learn French properly, the names all seemed like a wasted expanse of too many vowels. He felt that each name could rid about, on average, 3 vowels in the names spelling. Ok, he was an Anglophone.

De Chat continued on his opining for an inordinate amount of time on many items. He asked every person in the meeting to review his or her activities. In the process, he reviewed more org charts, process diagrams, proposals for departmental meeting schedules, and he even argued for several minutes with an odd over-sized French woman about the acronymical naming conventions of some lower regions of the fractal org tree of the department. The sun at this point was at eye-level, it was hot, and Zosima was beginning to become impatient. And thus, like the endorphin defense mechanisms that are overly hyped in various popular journals, he unwittingly released what he later conjectured was a genetic endorphin known only to Americans and Englishman. He later dubbed this endorphin the Anti-French-Mental-Masturbation endorphin, or, "AFMM". He released several billion units of AFMM during an exchange of tirades amongst the group related to diagram conventions, office configurations, and whether the future semi-exotic committee meetings should take place on Monday after the refactorization committee meeting or on Thursday, before the New Process Configuration committee meeting.

He then noticed that a tune began to play in the background. He recognized the tune. He knew this tune. A few French colleagues began to wiggle their asses to the tune. De Chat twitched his left eye a few times. Then Patrice bobbed his head up and down. Then, a young woman started wiggling around in her seat, the process of which titillated Zosima. He knew this tune. And then, De Chat uttered…

"The same thing….."

Patrice then produced a Ghetto blaster.  Then, the oddly fat French girl began saying, "ooui-bien-sur".

Zosima realized that this was HIS tune.  the tune crept up on him during the meeting, and everyone in the room could hear the tune that he, and only he, knew about.  A cartoon figure of a young french boy-king appeared behind De Chat, he ambled and jittered about behind De Chat, like a pilot fish around a Great White Shark.  Zosima, being an intelligent and yet typically shallow American, conjured up images from the neural synapses in his brain...yes, he felt like this was circa 80s MTV video, the boy king reminded him of Flavor Flav, while De Chat was Chuck D of Public Enemy.  It was like the birth of a new video, playing in front of his eyes, and it bore a very similar resemblance to "Fight The Power" from Public Enemy, only, that the song shoudl be on an albumn called "Fear of a French Planet", and the song was by Zosima and would be called "French Banks Suck, French Banks Cool".  Soon, the whole meeting room was like a St. Tropez designer drenched dancefloor, and all of Zosima's non-descript drones, who, only minutes before, were mere mathematical leafs on an org chart tree, now were dancing and bobbing on the table or at least wiggling their asses in their seats.  Patrice was bopping up and down with his Ghetto blaster, the boy-king cartoon figure was jutting here and their in pilot fish form, and De Chat was the MC of this little performance. 

"The same things that make a French Bank suck!....make it sort of cool!"

"Oui, bieeen...sur!"

"Say it again!!!!!!!"

"The same things that make a French Bank suck!....make it sort of cool!"

"doucement, mon amour!!!!"

"The same things that make a French Bank suck!....make it sort of cool!" <<this was sung in a whisper that eminated in static radio form through the Ghetto blaster held by Patrice>>

this went on for a stretch of time.

Zosima was aghast by the MTV flavored follies in front of his eyes. He stood up and walked over towards a window over which hung a white metallic system of inoperable blinds. De Chat, Patrice with his Ghetto blaster, the fat French chick, the young boy-king, and all of the young French engineers lurched towards the young American Ex-pat. They sang Zosima's newly created lyrics in glee as they wiggled, bopped, and flexed to the beats. They did not appear to be friendly, and, because of this, Zosima attempted to open a window in order to cry for help. It was to no avail, since the window was glued shut. Zosima screamed out an explicative condemning the half-baked efforts of the long since retired army of French Engineering School org chart human nodes who were surely sipping an Aparitif somewhere in a 3 star environ near Montepellier at this very decidedly lazy Franco minute. He finally grabbed a chair and threw it through the glass, laughing in the process in a homage to the seemingly poor glass craftsmenship of the evil Frog Eaters ("FE"). The French Meeting Crew ("FMC") convened in a circle around Zosima, but they did not cease their MTV-driven dancing and singing act. Zosima began to sweat. And then…..

and then, the booming bass kicked into high gear as the song sped up into a speed that was highly suggestive of either rapid sexual or violent acts.  The fat French chick grabbed Patrice and put her tongue in his mouth.  The boy king whispered something, a mere baguetelle of thought, into De Chat's ear, and some unkwown French kid to the side pushed Zosima out of the window!

Zosima wafted like like a willowing leaf towards the ground, which, incidentally was 8 floors below.  He was in the sky.

It was quiet.  He knew he was going to die.  His head was facing the sky.  He prayed and he heard the tune play in his head.

"The Same Thing that makes a french bank suck, make it sort of cool!!!!!"

"Oui, bien sur"


"Say it again!"


He hit the ground.  But, he was not dead.  He was on the ground and yet he could feel the blood oozing out of every cracked crevice of his person.  It was silent, warm, and bright.  He saw some birds fly above in winged formation.  This seemed to last forever.

And then, out of nowhere....

He could hear the basslines of the song pumping in the background......the sound was lacking any sense of treble- there were no high tones whatsoever- he could hear the sounds of muffled Parisian Café conversation.  He looked over towards the entrance of the building at La Capute...;the entrance looked like a horizontal door that opened like the mouth of a Frenchman with a voracious appetite. 

A stream of dancing young Org Chart Engineering nodes came out of the entrance.  The song kicked up full steam.  Then the boy king popped out and did several acrobatic feats.  Then, the entire crew of the meeting came out, led by, none other than Jerome De Chat.  The were dancing and kissing each other to the beats.  They wiggled and wobbled over towards the dying Zosima......

And, in Zosima's last perceptions of life on Planet France were as follows...His song was playing...his ex-Franco-colleague engineers were dancing around his body and sticking their tongues out like demons.  One of them was presenting a graph of an org chart. Another was wiggling a brown plastic cup of coffee, another was asking him about the semi-exotic committee...and De Chat was folding his arms like a Bronx Hip Hop Homeboy......

Zosima died and went to Heaven.

© 2012 Bourbon Key

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Added on January 8, 2012
Last Updated on January 8, 2012


Bourbon Key
Bourbon Key

London, United Kingdom

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