The French have accused the American government of using U.S.-Israeli spy software to hack into the French presidential office. I read about it in The Hill. I contacted my French informant, Pierre Le Paint, to learn more about the incident.
"What could America possibly have to gain by spying on the French?" I said.
"The people currently running your government admire our country," said Pierre. "We have many cradle-to-grave government programs and powerful government unions. Our unemployment is more than 10 percent - even in good economic times, unemployment rarely goes below 7.5 percent! - and we just raised the top tax rate to 75 percent on the rich."
"Regrettably, some Americans do admire such things, but I don't see why we'd have to hack your computers for this information."
"I will tell you, then, the real reason they would do it: romance!"
"Romance? You're losing me, Pierre."
"Look, now that the American economy is bogged down by new regulations, a growing government and massive debt, it remains stagnant. With so much less work to do, Americans finally have free time to learn how to woo a woman. This requires secrets that only French men know."
"You're saying American men are poor at the art of romance?"
"Of course, you fool. Tell me: What would a typical American male consider to be a romantic date?"
"That's easy. We pick up our better half about 7 p.m., go to the diner for a couple of burgers, knock down some pins and brew at the bowling alley, then have 75-cent nightcaps at the American Legion."
"Clumsy oaf! This is not what women want! Let me share with you the basics on how to woo a woman. First, you promise to take your lady to a special place, but you don't tell her where."
"We American men have the promise part down pat!"
"Then, you go to a fine winery and find yourself a fine French wine. Not too dry, not too sweet."
"I already have a jug of that stuff in my refrigerator."
"Then, as you walk to her place, you stroll through the fields until you pluck a lovely flower."
"Are graveyard flowers acceptable?"
"And as you approach your beautiful lady's home, you prepare yourself for her."
"Double-check your deodorant?"
"No, you American peasant! You must MENTALLY prepare yourself for her! You close your eyes and dream of a faraway beach in the South Pacific."
"I do that when I'm at work."
"Then you picture yourself lying on the sand. And you imagine that you open your eyes and see a stunning woman, a mermaid, splashing about in the sea."
"Did you say mermaid?"
"She is the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. You stand and run into the water to be near her, but she laughs at you and swims away."
"What if she starts smacking you with her flipper?"
"She will not smack you, idiot Yankee! You must long for the mermaid, and as you are, you ring your lady's doorbell. Your lady will open the door. She will see the longing in your eyes and think you are longing for her!"
"If you say so."
"You give her your flower and wine, kiss her, then take her to a fine French restaurant, where you will charm her and whisper sweet nothings into her ear."
"Let me get this straight. You are suggesting that the U.S. government hacked into the French presidential office to find out French secrets on how to woo women?"
"Of course, but mainly your government was after the greatest French secret of all!"
"And what would that be, Pierre?"
"How to woo women without your wife finding out about it."
Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," is a Pittsburgh Tribune Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Email Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.