Heh. Heh. Sarkozy tries to shake the guy's hand, and the guy says 'no, don't touch me', and Sarkozy says 'bugger off then', and the guy says 'you'd dirty me', and Sarkozy says 'bugger off then, you lousy dick'. Heh.
I'd love to go off on how lame the French are for electing this strangely compelling, emotionally unbalanced, foul-mouthed megalomaniac troll into their nation's highest office, or tell you about all the ass-licking ministers who rode to Sarkozy's defence in the media, or about how Sarkozy edited in a pseudo-apology to the 'town hall' interview rather than actually say it out loud, but I am just in too much of a shitter today.
Last night my best girlfriend here told me she'd just been offered a big pile of money to move back to San Francisco. She has quite compelling reasons to do it, aside from the money. Problem is, first, that I'm going to miss her like crazy, and second, that I have abandonment issues. Don't we all, you'd say, quite rightly, and I daresay mine are no worse than others, but they are byzantine enough in their complexity to fill ten pages of tightly-written double-sided foolscap (at a guess). And this is why for the last twelve years of my life I've devoted significant energies to being the abandonner. Ending relationships before the other has a chance. Moving into my own bachelor the second the lease expires. And of course, fucking off to different countries every couple of years.
Well. Brussels is not the town to have those sorts of issues in, because it's a what the yuppier among us call a 'starter town'. Take towns like Toronto, Los Angeles, London, Paris, New York. What they all have in common is that millions of people from smaller towns move there to make money, but the cost of living is so high relative to the salaries that you end up staying there once you're in - both because there's so much to enjoy spending your money on, and because you can't fucking save money, as your rent, et cetera, is so steep.
Brussels isn't like that. The salaries are high for corporate expatriates like me and my colleagues, and RETARDLY high for the international organizations. I have a friend seconded to one of them who's privy to the pay details, and Americans - I think I know where your tax dollars are going. These salaries are disbursed in Francophone Belgium, and don't let all the EU rigamarole and Beethoven's Ninth fool you; Art Nouveau buildings aside, Francophone Belgium is a post-industrial shithole where nobody has any money. I would never consider working in Belgium without an expatriate contract because of the tax burden (50% income tax as soon as you hit Euro 30,000). A tax burden, I might add, which is NOT justified by the level of public services Belgians enjoy. But I've given up ribbing on this country for Lent so I'll move on.
This means expats are making big piles of money in an impoverished country, paying a pittance for their rent and a fraction of what they would in a town like Paris or Amsterdam for amusement. So they make and save lots of money, but few stay on permanently (though the special expat contracts here are open-ended); either something is pulling them back home, or else they're repelled by the weather, angst over pulling in a pay cheque which is absolutely disproportionate to the incomes of the residents of the country they're crashing in, the feeling among those of us of breeding age that the place is crawling with paedophiles, et cetera.
So people stay between two and five years. More than enough time for me to get attached (I've only been here ten months or so), and then in plenty of time to break my little heart by fucking off. I tell you, this town has the conditions to drive me mentalist in a whole new way. It's so transient.
But it has made the F-word and I think a little bit more concretely about when we in turn will fuck off. It will be years, and not months. But that too will come.