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I Could If I Were French

With the right accent, a guy can get away with anything.

12:00 AM, Jul 6, 2004 • By LARRY MILLER
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When my wife and I were dating there was a nice Italian joint near her we always went to, and the maitre d' was an Italian guy from Rome, in his 50s, always elegantly dressed, and whenever we came in, he would take her hand and say, "Hallo, prrrrincess!" Then he'd kiss it romantically, take her other hand, too, step back, and look her up and down (really look her up and down, the way--well, you know the way) and say, "Beautiful, beautiful, come, we go." Then he'd lead her to our table, kiss her hand again, then her cheek, give her the once over again, and glide back to the front.

I liked the guy, mind you, I was always just amazed that an Italian guy with an accent could get away with that. If I ever tried to pull anything remotely close, I wouldn't get past the first kiss before the woman jerked her hand back and sent it across my yap. Here, kiss that side of it, buddy.

"Well, you know the Italians." I guess. One thing's for sure, a smooth accent and a lot of continental charm can go a long, long way. Usually, at least to third base.

Not all accents work. I can't imagine a Polish guy doing that. Or Danish, or Dutch, or German. Somehow it's not the same thing. But Italian, Argentine, oh, yeah. And French. I mean, please. That's got to be the blue-ribbon winner, doesn't it? I really think that if we knew a French guy who had cheated on his wife, my wife's only reaction would be a shrug and a "Well, you know the French." If I ever pulled anything like that, I think it overwhelmingly likely that I would be having a lot of chats with John Wayne Bobbitt. ("Actually, they've learned a lot since yours. 'Course, there's still no way around the stitches.")

And, accent or no, raw power is always a factor. Kim Jong Il over in North Korea is supposed to be something of a womanizer, but I'm sure he doesn't have to ooze charm or much of anything else to get females instantly agreeing to watch him take of his boys-size-five shoes. I guess there are some times when no is not an option. (Larry David used to do a great bit in his act that, if you were a woman who had just spent the night with a dictator, and he hadn't been able to perform sexually, what do you think the chances are of your getting out of the palace alive?)

No one's ever going to excuse any behavior in our country, sexual or otherwise, with an envious shrug and a jaunty "Well, you know the Americans!" That's just the way it is. Hey, fine with me. It's not my instinct to step on dresses anyway.

But I do wonder about getting up to heaven one day and having the big sit-down with God, and Him going through my folder, and it's huge. And it's all just thoughts about sex. "You mean every time I daydreamed about the woman down the hall it was a sin?"

Uh-huh.

"But I never did anything. Just thought about it."

Hey, I don't make the rules.

"Yes, you do."

Oh. Yeah. Well, still . . .

"Oh, boy, if I got a black mark every time I imagined doing it, I'm a dead man. That's all I ever did, like every minute of every day. I'll never get in."

Nah, you'll be fine, it'll just take a while. Oh, hello, Monsieur Mitterrand. Go right in.

"Did you say Mitterrand? Was that Francois Mitterrand? Wait a minute, he had lots of affairs, and he even had a whole other family, or something, didn't he? And I've got to spend the next 500 years paying for imagining women naked while he goes right in? How come?"

And then, with a big smile and a wink, Well, you know the French.

"Don't tell me they were right on Iraq, too?"

Here I imagine God leaning in, pausing, and saying, Well, I probably shouldn't even be saying this, but . . . Entre nous? That door he went in isn't exactly heaven. Tu comprends? Good. Now, why don't you get started?

Larry Miller is a contributing humorist to The Daily Standard and a writer, actor, and comedian living in Los Angeles.