No Longer the Odd Couple

So, as I was saying, we have new neighbors. Technically, though, I suppose they aren’t really all that new. They’ve owned the house down the road from ours for ages, but haven’t set foot in it for years. That all changed last spring, though, when they took a renewed interest in the house and started fixing the place up.

But what’s so special about this new couple? Why does anyone care? What could be fascinating enough to make the locals forget all about the American girl and her posh, extravagant ways? First of all, it’s this: one makes her living as a successful documentary filmmaker in Switzerland, where they live for the majority of the year when not out hob-nobbing with other European filmmakers in Paris and other chic locales. Second, it’s this: the other is heiress to the Tesco fortune. Tesco, in case you didn’t know, is the fourth-largest retailer in the world, upstaged only by Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Home Depot. And third: they’re both thin and beautiful.

So let’s be honest here. There’s no way I’m ever going to be more interesting than glamorous, hot, multi-billionaire lesbians. Never.

They drew the attention of the locals when the construction projects started. The new gate, the pool house, the stone driveway lined with floodlights and olive trees, it all made for a vast increase in heavy truck traffic up and down our road. And predictably, everyone knew someone who was involved in the work. Robert, the retired hunter who is my source for truffles, got himself hired on the crew that did the tile for their pool. Well, for one of their pools. There are two. One is a large infinity pool, the edge that gives the visual effect of extending to the horizon facing a view of Mont St. Victoire. The other is a Japanese reflecting pool, shallow enough that its owners can lie flat in it and contemplate the sky. Robert gave me all the details, down to how much they paid for the Italian tile surrounding the pool areas. And you guys thought our Passat was expensive! Ha! I thought.

But that’s not all. They also have a Turkish hammam (steam bath) with a domed ceiling that features tiny inlaid lights in the shape of the constellations one would see from it if there were no ceiling. And lest a culture go unrepresented, they also have a ger (otherwise known as a yurt), which is a Mongolian tent made of yak skin that sources say was installed on the property by a Mongolian man that they flew over here specially for that purpose. I bet the man’s parents had initially been disappointed when he chose a future in yak tents as opposed to a career in medicine or the law. Little did they know that he would rise to the top of his profession and rich, sexy foreigners would someday finance trips around the globe for his yak tent expertise. Who’s laughing now, mom and dad?

Needless to say, I ate up all these details with glee. These people thought my dryer was an unnecessary luxury! Ha!

The grand opening of this multi-culti palace happened while we were in the U.S., so we didn’t score an invitation and had to rely on the neighbors for all the details. They had tables set up around the infinity pool, which was lit from spotlights within and surrounded by twinkly lights strung everywhere. Uniformed waiters circulated the crowd with trays of sushi resting on banana leaves. Posh entertainment industry types sipped champagne and were entranced by a magician who performed illusory feats with colored glass balls. A DJ from a Paris nightclub provided the music. At one point, they were using so much electricity that everything shorted out and one of the neighbors had to go down the road and do whatever it is that you do with the circuit box to get the juice flowing again. All in all, it was a rather Fellini-esqe spectacle, especially from the viewpoint of Provençal natives who had never even tasted sushi before.

Our swanky new neighbors have gone to one of their other houses now, presumably not to return until next summer. But they have left a sea change in their wake. Have you noticed the difference? It’s not just that they’ve usurped my throne as the reigning queen of the bizarre. All their glamour and grandeur has made me look downright normal by comparison. I’m normal! * And the people of Cadenet are now gossiping to me rather than about me. I’m one of them now. And it feels good.

* I am fully aware of how absurd it is that it took gorgeous multi-billionaire lesbians who basically live inside a Benetton ad to make me look normal, so there’s no use pointing it out.


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