The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's Good to Be a Dip

(now with 40% less whining)

There was this old Eddie Murphy bit on Saturday Night Live (hmmm...two SNL refs recently...I guess I did spend a lot of Saturday nights in the 80's at home in front of the TV) where Eddie puts on white makeup and a fake moustache to go undercover as a white man--and finds that life is very different with his newfound status : free newspapers from the newsstand, a city bus that turns into a mobile party when the last black passenger steps off, a free loan from a white bank manager.

That's me and my new, official, and wholly unearned Diplomat status (henceforth "Dip"). For example, one of the perks of being a Dip is that I qualify for a tax-free car. That is, besides the get-out-of-jail-free card represented by a green license tag, I can buy a car without the 25% tax that French people normally have to pay on top of the purchase price. Plus, a lot of European car manufacturers feel that having a bunch of their cars on the road with diplomatic tags makes for good advertising, so they offer additional 10-15% discounts to Dips, along with some other perks like free shipment back to one's home country. Which is nice. But why do they give breaks to the people who are most likely to not need them? And heck, I don't even need a car here.

Another example: Something like six times a year, I'll have the opportunity to purchase up to 20 bottles of duty-free booze at ridiculously low prices. I filled out my first order sheet last week (one doesn't pass up Bombay Sapphire at $8 a bottle). Now that I've shown a willingness to pay usurious amounts for small-batch bourbon (see below), do I even need this kind of a break?

It goes on...special rates on subscriptions to the International Herald-Tribune. Invitations to hob-nob with the elite at the city hall, via the American Club. We blew off an invitation to an Easter Egg Hunt at an honest-to-god chateau, hosted by an honest-to-god Count and Countess (actually, we couldn't get a rental car on short notice on a holiday...guess that Benz woulda come in handy). What do you even say to a Count? "So, keeping the serfs in line?" "Does a Count beat a Marquis, or do you have to be an Earl?" "What're Ernie and Bert really like?"

Hell, it's not even like I'm an ambassador or something. Under the fake moustache and white make-up, it's just ol' whatsisname, middle-class suburban kid from North Carolina. I hope they don't find me out.


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