Happy Birthday Grumpy French Man

40 years old. All of the people who are on the way to pass over this age say that it’s nothing. I am on the way, today, to be over this bloody number. And believe me, all those people are big bastard liars. Let’s be clear. it’s a horrible time and this is it! When this sensitive birthday date comes closer and closer, then you feel that you have to make a sort of “life recap”.

So, for the last 2 days, I sat in front of my computer and I started this depressive personal work, not something funny at all.

After a few hours, I was close to attempting suicide as the last word that came to mind was “egoist”!

Who could objectively say that I was using on this planet, except my mum? But you know “the mothers”, they are sweet. I could tell mine that I am selling heroin and smuggling Indian kid’s organs in Colombia and she will still think she gave birth to a genius 40 years ago! So I decided to make a list. Along one, an honest one. At first, I wanted to write the 10 worst things I ever did, but I could fill 10 pages, so I switched this to go directly to the 10 best things I have ever done. After one hour, my page was still blank! Maybe I was too ambitious with myself by wanting to remember the best, so I started by writing simple nice things. It went something like this:

  • When I was five years old I bought a packet of French cigarettes “Gitane brune” for my mum for her 30th birthday, very well wrapped in an old and dirty newspaper. She still remembers as she was not a smoker. So it shows how I am generous and careful with my mum.
  • At the same age, I told my dad that I wanted to be an antique dealer (like him). I proudly brought him back old iron hardware from a giant rubbish place where I looked at these metal pieces of art for hours. As he saw that I was as dirty as a rat, he insisted to give me one French Franc (20 cents) for these jewels. I refused strongly, so it shows how I am honest and a visionary, as I am still an antique dealer and most of the time dirty like a rat from hunting antiques!
  • When I was eight, I accompanied my Grandma to the church. Seems a simple task, but considering that I’ve been five times in my life to a church service, then it shows that I love my grandma a lot.
  • When I was 10 I gave a presentation to my other grandmother. Considering that I hated my other grandmother, it shows that I am not spiteful.
  • When I was 12, I hid inside an antique cabinet in my dad’s shop to smoke my first cigarette, my mum caught me and I admitted that I was smoking because I really couldn’t deny it. It shows that I am not a liar.
  • When I was 14, I broke my arm and my leg by jumping from a theatre stage and immediately tried to walk on my broken leg before collapsing. This shows that I am a strong guy.
  • When I was 17, I left home to live my own life. It was basically a disaster, but it shows that I could be independent of very young.
  • When I was 21, I finally succeeded to have my baccalaureate three years late. It shows that I was not a brilliant guy but on the other hand a very perseverant person.
  • When I was 24 I split with my girlfriend for “No reason at all” after a seven-year relationship. It shows that I am quite insane, but on the other hand, that I give the opportunity to others for a better destiny (Anne has three beautiful kids now, me zero, not even an ugly one).
  • When I was 27 I was quite satisfied with my life until I became, once again insane – to date a British girl. It shows that “as a Frenchman who hates the British” I can make sacrifices.
  • When I was 29, my British girlfriend split with me. It shows that, despite the effort, the British and French will hate each other forever. But it shows that I am a peacekeeper by trying the impossible.
  • When I was 30, I was crying like a kid to try to get back my beautiful British girlfriend. It shows that I am a very sensitive person (Tanya is also married with two kids, none of them is mine).
  • When I was 33, I had lots of girlfriends. It shows that I am a sharing person.
  • When I was 37 I stopped thinking about the way I have to manage my life. It shows that I am very reasonable!
  • When I was 39 I took a dog in. It shows that I like animals and that “hope” is not anymore a word that I will use in the future.

So finally, here is the recap. I am: generous, honest and a visionary, love my grandma, not spiteful, not a liar, strong, independent, perseverant, give opportunity to others, a devoted person, sensitive, peacekeeper, sharing person, free personality, that I like animals and that I am a realist about  my own life!

I was quite amazed by this recap. 40 years old, I finally achieved many good things except one, but I will keep this one for myself.

Then my young neighbour arrived. A very sweet seven-year-old kid named Laura. She came to my home, running from the front gate and screamed a big, “Happy birthday uncle Seb!” and jumped in my arms. I was very happy. I gave her chocolate milk. I was working on my laptop while she sat in front of me and looked at me with her beautiful black eyes. And she looked at me and looked at me and looked at me. So finally I asked, “What’s up, Laura, why are you looking at me like this?” And she said with a big smile, “You are very old uncle Seb ya, your hairs are grey like my grandma but still, do you think we can get married one day?” I was amazed, so I simply said, “Of course sweetheart, your father will try to kill me first, but yes we can marry one day”. I saw something blinking in her eyes and a large smile on her face. What a beautiful present!

Someone important to me asked me why we don’t feel the same on New Year’s Eve, for example. And she is right, I never felt older on New Year’s Eve despite how we change in a year. I only feel drunk on this date! Numbers mean nothing finally, fill your life with adventures, joy and amazing moments. We need to be crazy, stupid and extreme sometimes. We need to fail, to be down, to stand up, to fall down again and finally to celebrate all our birthdays on the 31st of December.

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Sebastien is a French antiques dealer living in Jogjakarta. To rant and rave at him, email sebastienlaurent@hotmail.com


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