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Sexual Contest in Franglais1

Manny Rodriguez and I (Moi) sit in a corner of a seedy bar on a windswept Cape night, well past clear-thinking time.  Rodriguez inflates to deplore the state of scientific decline in the world.

Manny Rodriguez:  “These days nothing is scientific any longer. Nothing, nothing (coughs).  People go on hearsay.  Take the truth that Frenchmen are better lovers than others (deep drag on a cigarette).  It’s total cra_p (long exhalation).  It’s time someone tested this scientifically.  I’ll volunteer, anytime.  Pit me against a Frenchmen in a room with four or five women and we’ll see (long sip of long beer).  I’ll give the Frog a hellava go for his money.  I bet when it comes to the crunch the Frenchie will run.  Do you know what General Paton said of French valour?  He said he’d rather have a German army in front of him than a French army behind him (laughs uproariously).”

Moi:  (All serious) “Continuez.”

Manny Rodriguez:  “The French, good lovers?  Bah.  I’d like to go man to man versus a Frenchman, one woman at a time at first, then building up to one-on-two and one-on-three and so forth as the competition progresses.  Me versus him, man to man.  You too must come along please.”

Moi:  (Bemused but expectant) “Me?  Come along? Porquoi?”

Manny Rodriguez:  “We’ll need someone to keep score.”

Moi:  “Keep Score?  Merde_.  What exactement must I do?

Manny Rodriguez:  “Scientific assessment of our relative performance of course.  Don’t be afraid man.  You don’t actually have to do anything (shifts heavily about).  What I meant by your coming along was for you to take scientific notes while the Frenchman and I take turns in competing against each other with all these women.  What do you say?”

Moi:  (Deflating) “Bon, I must say your suggestion, while alluring in certain respects bien entendu, has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that, let’s be honnête, I’m not comfortable with, scientifically parlant.  What about impartialité and validité statistique?”

Manny Rodriguez: “Look, you’re a trained scientist right?  On the day of the experiment – or probably the night more appropriately ha-ha-ha, you sit on a chair some distance from the beds, couches, what-have-you and take notes while I compete against the Frenchman.  That’s all you have to do.  Don’t look so bothered.”


Manny Rodriguez:  “What is there to understand?  The Frenchman and I engage in turns, and you, as a detached arbitrator, take notes on style, technique, spatial configuration etc.”

Moi:  “Ah, je vois.  I’m to be un type de voyeur scientifique to you two layabouts, n’est ce pas?

Manny Rodriguez:  “Well if you want to, but don’t see it that way.  See yourself as advancing the cause of science.  You can even wear a virginal white lab coat if you prefer ha-ha-ha (repeated slaps to my back).”

Moi.  “And scrubs and clinical gloves too I suppose.  Where’s the barmaid.  Brunhilda!  Another “cognac” s’il vous plaît.  And a packet of Gauloises while you’re about it.  Err, maintenant Rodriguez, err, where were we… ah oui, la recherche.  How shall we conduct it donc, in a way that is scientifiquement valable?

Manny Rodriguez: ‘It’s simple.  The Frenchman and I take alternate turns with gorgeous women, and you take notes discreetly and compare our respective performances in the studio.


Manny Rodriguez: “In the Kloof Street Film Studios of course.  You can’t be against that?  You don’t expect us to carry out the competition just anywhere.”

Moi:  “Au contraire, I approve.  C’est bien là-bas, dans les studios de filme.  Continuez.

Manny Rodriguez: “Have you got the works now?”

Moi:  “I think je comprends, basicallementIl faut que I sit in the studio with a clip file, in my coat de laboratoire, and take des notes, quite statically, while you and le Français make amour to these belles femmes.

Manny Rodriguez:  “Yes, that sort of thing, you’re cultivating the idea…”

Moi:  “Rest assuré that I’ll come around to it.  But tell me une chose.  How will I err… comme qu’on dirait… score?  Not personellement of course, but the two of you?  And when do I prendre un break?  There’s only that long I can assess these intense activitées without taking un petit repos.  I’m not a machine you know, pas du tout.”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Fair question, it didn’t cross my mind at all.  I can imagine it can be tiring sitting on the side watching athletes in action, especially me.  I suppose we can arrange to interrupt our competition from time to time to give you time to recompose yourself.”

Moi:  “Coitus interruptus?”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Alas, alas.”

Moi:  “Do you have a scoring système in mind?  What detailles must I take into consideration when marking?

Manny Rodriguez:  “I’ve given it some thought (clears throat).  I suggest you score us out of twenty.  Total satisfaction rendered could count ten points, say, endurance five, intensity three, and novelty and artistic interpretation, at which I’ve never been very good, one point each.”

Moi: “Silly moi, how could I not have thought of it?”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Indeed.  But let’s not be rigid about it.  We can leave the arbitration of weights among categories to your good self.  Just don’t get all complicated.  You’ll get the general drift soon after we start.  You’ll instinctively know who is better when you see it – not that there’ll be much of a contest.  If need be I can give you a few pointers.”

Moi: “You give me a few pointers?  What pointers?  Quelle horreur, non merci!”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Look, it will in any case be obvious as to who’ll win.  You needn’t have the thoroughness of a Dead Sea scroll scholar to make your call.  After all, everything’s up-front and demonstrable.  Don’t kill yourself over-elaborating things.”

Moi:  “OK, so let’s get this down parfaitement.  I sit to one side and regard in sang-froid while you and the Frenchmen engagez in repetitive courses of liaisons amoureuses, and I score your performance by gut feel?”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Nothing could be simpler (sweeps palm in an arc, grins).”

Moi: “And I do rien but sit there like an anally-retentive accountant, keeping a blow-by-blow inventory of the whole affaire?”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Yes, yes, you’re getting the hang of it.”

Moi:  “Rodriguez, that is the most con thing I have jamais heard.”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Look, you don’t have to exert yourself or anything, I’m not asking for much.  And besides you owe me one.  It’s not like you have to compromise your principles or anything.”

Moi:  “I’m shocked, completement choqué that you could expect that of moi, une personne sensible et cultivée.  But I’ll overlook it this once.  Alors, quel Français do you intend competing against?”

Manny Rodriguez:  ‘We’ll there’s Jacques the confectioner in town.  Ladies man they say.  Then there’s hirsute Phillipe with the swagger and the handlebar moustache – you know him.  But the bas_tard I’d really like to bring down to earth is Serge with the reputation.  Slimy snail.  He was last heard boasting that he’s seeing the German teacher and some consul’s wife, as well as one of their daughters, I’m not sure which.  Two of their nieces have apparently also shown an interest in him, as has impossible Veronica of Tank fame, depending on the version.  Of course, he does nothing to dispel rumours that he’s terribly well endowed in certain respects.”

Moi:C’est rien ça.  Soft targets, mostly.  Malgré being a ladies man, Jacques is totally effete.  I’m told he brings women chocolates and fleurs and then sits on a couch holding hands with them all day, going no further than romantically that.  Are you surprised women find him si adorable?  Phillipe with the handlebar moustache, despite his oozing machismo, is trés, trés gai, ask anyone dans le Greenpoint Pink Strip.  As for Serge, I’m compelled to ajouter that I’ve heard from une bonne amie that he’s just landed a contract to star for Private Gold.  He’s sadly left for Les États-Unis d’Amerique last week, she said, almost in tears, apparently to participé in their latest blockbuster forthcoming attraction.  Eh oui.”

Manny Rodriguez:  “What?  (Freezes)… Can’t be!”

Moi:Mon cher, I’m telling you rien que la verité.  You’ll have to rise to a stiffer challenge.  Time to call for the bill.  Garçon!  Le tab s’il vouz plaît.”

Manny Rodriguez:  “Bloo_dy hell.  What other Frenchmen are there in town then?  By the way, I’ve noticed you’ve been turning very French over the past half-an-hour or so. Wait, no, no, you don’t mean, you don’t mean… (eyes widening.)”

Moi:  “Exactement, mon vieux Rodriguez, exactement”, I menaced, shakily.


1.  Franglais is a hybrid French-English concoction, with no formal rules of usage or grammar.  Most texts are predominately in French written from an English speaker’s perspective.  The humour of Franglais lies largely in the exploitation of the non-translatability of idiomatic expressions between the languages, as well as the dressing up of social situations with unusual degrees of embarrassment or funk.

For example, the expression “c’était un morceau de gateau” could be used for “it was a piece of cake”, in the sense of “it was dead easy”.  The Franglais user of the expression knows it denotes only the literal meaning in French, the English idiomatic connotation getting lost, but uses it nonetheless in clever implication.  Hence, an otherwise hard task could be described by the glib as “c’était un doddle, un morceau de gateau” which in French would be literally saying the task is a piece of cake, much as the Afrikaans expression “dit was ‘n stuk koek” would do the same.  [Challenge to Afrikaans speakers: What about a paragraph or two of “Anglikaans” or “Fransikaans”?]

Franglais relies on English speakers having a good command of French for the humour to come through.  At the interface of two language communities, it has a relatively small number of appreciators.  In the piece, I have resorted to a simple word-for-word substitution that should be easily made out by an English speaker with no knowledge of French, a stricture which sacrifices higher-order humour for comprehension.  Sorry!

For further Franglais, see the booklets of Miles Kington such as “Let’s Parler Franglais”, “The Franglais Lieutenant’s Woman and Other Literary Masterpieces” and others. You’ll lose much though if your command of French is below intermediate level. And oh, “basicallement”  is neither French nor English…