French twist deux

French twist deux

September 27, 2020

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by Trey Nosrac

David, the rich guy I drive around, was sitting in the back seat of the Lexus. We were waiting for Monique to retrieve her cellphone from his farmhouse kitchen. The plan was simple, take a drive in the country.

I said over my shoulder. “We got a big problem.”

“What’s that?” David asked.

“I’m in lust with your French lady friend. I spend every day of lockdown wishing her quarantine was at my place instead of with you and your mom.”

He answered with a sigh, “Be careful what you wish for.”

My eyebrows raised, “Trouble in Chateau De David?”

“Being locked up with a stranger is difficult, and she is practically a stranger. She just happened to be visiting when the virus struck.”

“That sounds like a door is open for Trey to make a move.”
He chuckled, “Move away or move her away. She might be a bit more than you can handle.”

“Dude, she’s great looking, has confidence, a sense of humor, money, and loves racing trotters. It’s like you had your team from Silicon Valley build her for me.”

He muttered, “The team needs a little more Beta testing. There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance, and she…here she comes.”

She strutted to the open rear passenger door, shimmied in with a hint of peach perfume, closed the door, and chirped, “Bonjour, Monsieur Trey.”

Looking at her in my rear-view mirror, I replied, “Que pasa? I hope the social distance is okay. You want me to mask up?”

“Non.”

I asked, “How’s it going in these strange times, in a strange land, marooned with a strange guy and his mother?”
She hesitated slightly, “D’accord.”

“No, this is a Lexus, a new one, compliments of David.”

“D’accord means things are fine.”

I made my first move, “Remember you said you would tell me about French harness racing on our… hold on…um…on our la prochaine balade.”

She gave a quick clap of her hands and said, “You remembered the French term for our next ride.”

“Sort of, I printed them on my hand with a sharpie so I could impress you.”

She gave a tsk, tsk noise and said, “Alas, since the great Trey found it necessary to write two simple words on his hand, he did not succeed.”

“Touche. You remember where we left off in our last chat?”

“Oui, I was explaining how racing in France is different than America.”

“Yeah, only trotters, big field, and longer distances. Let me ask a few questions about the business model in French racing. How is it different from America?”

She replied, “It is not stupide. We have one plan.”

I had to defend my homeland, “We have several states that run harness racing operations. Each state does things a little differently, you know, different strokes for different folks,LAZY- fair, C’est la vie, let them eat cake.”

“And how is that structure working out for harness horse racing in your country, Monsieur Trey?”

I shrugged, “Meh. How is racing going in France?”

“Bien.”

“Well, that’s good to know. So how does it work in France?”

“Do you want a long history or a short summary?”

“Short and simple.”
“Trotters in France race under the PMU.”

I shrugged and said, “Too simple, too short, and please don’t use letters, por favor.”

Monique flashed me a cat with a mouse smile, “The Pari Mutuel Urbain is a French company located in Paris that designs, promotes, markets, and is involved in the entire process of horse racing.”

“Does this PMU run the gambling part of the deal?”

“Oui. Since 1985 the PMU is officially an economic interest group that links together over fifty racing companies, all of which are non-profit associations. Two companies regulate and provide racing. One is France Galop for flat and obstacle races, the other isLe Trot,for trotting races. For ten years, since online gaming became legal, the PMU now also operates sports betting.”

“If I interpreted that correctly, racing is all under the same umbrella.”

“Absolutely. American horse racing is madness.”

“Hardly madness we…” Suddenly she demanded, “Stop zee car.” Then she softened the command with a purred,“S’il vous plait.”

Monique had spotted a roadside vegetable cart. I braked, backed up, and pulled the car into the gravel driveway. She masked up, exited, and strolled towards the tidy display of homegrown tomatoes, squash, and sweet corn.”

David and I remained in the Lexus, watching her chat with a teenage girl handling the store while sitting in a lawn chair.

I said, “She’s probably lecturing about how French vegetables are fresher.”

David asked quietly, “You still want to make those moves on mademoiselle and want her move into your place?”

I gave a slow shake of my head and mumbled, “Maybe we can work out a short-term lease.”

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