My French Invasion

I'm in the process of getting ready for a trip to France. First off, just in case any of you works for the Internal Revenue Service, this is not a pleasure trip. It's for research so that I can better inform my readers of what's going on in the world. Of course, if I accidentally happen to have some pleasure while I'm there, it's not my fault.

As I've done in the past, I will try to get a sense of what the people of France think and feel these days. I'll talk to as many people as possible on the street, in the metro, and in cafés. I really want to find out what the French think of our politics, our economy, and my new haircut. I want to know whom they think we'll elect as our President in November. And do they still think the war in Iraq was a mistake? And how can they eat all that rich food and not get fat? If you have other questions that you would like me to ask the French people, just e-mail your suggestions to

As with any invasion, preparation is the key to a successful trip abroad. One of the things I had to do before embarking on this journey was to get rid of the cold that I was suffering from a mere week before our departure date. As everyone knows, if you fly with a cold, your head can explode. Fortunately, the cold cleared up before I risked my head exploding somewhere over the Atlantic.

Something that I always do before a big trip is visit the drugstore. I go to the section which should be called, "Little Items At Ridiculous Prices." It's where you can buy the tiniest bottle of shampoo, that little package of Band-Aids, and a toothbrush that's so small you're guaranteed to lose it on the trip. I always rationalize that it's cheaper than if I bought these last minute travel items at the airport store. Of course, that doesn't stop me from buying a few more last minute items at the airport store.

I plan on filling up my car with gas before I leave, because I assume that by the time I get back, the price of a fill-up will be similar to the price of a two-bedroom house.

Many friends have warned me that as the dollar continues to plummet, things will be very expensive in France. But I have a way around this problem. At the moment, the dollar is worth about 65 "Euro Cents." That means that a Euro is worth 1.00 divided by .65. Since math has never been my strong suit, it won't be that easy for me to convert Euro prices in my head to dollars by dividing 1.00 by .65. Therefore, I'm choosing to ignore the exchange rate and just enjoy myself. Isn't that the American way?

Another area of preparation deals with the fact that many people in France speak French. My French isn't terrible. Here is an accurate description of my linguistic expertise: When I speak French, a French person knows that I'm trying to speak French. I have a plan for a crash course. I probably shouldn't call it a "crash course" since it involves our flight. Because we are flying Air France, I've decided to only speak French to the French flight attendants. Therefore, I assume that when we land in Paris, I will be perfectly fluent.

We will also be visiting an area of France called Dordogne where there are some prehistoric caves. I find that very exciting. Of course, I'm always happy to hear about something that's older than I am. As part of my invasion preparation, I've been looking at photographs of the prehistoric cave drawings. They are fascinating. I'm looking at one right now with a magnifying glass. The scrawlings actually look like writing. I'm no expert in this field, but the words appear to be, strangely, in English. Apparently, thousands of years ago, a caveman or cavewoman wrote a message. This is amazing. It sure looks like it's saying, "Give it up already, Hillary."