a quirky story by Albert RussoRipov was tired of the city’s anonymity and decided to play his French card, for Ripov had a perfect grasp of Rousseau’s language. He designed himself a ‘carte de presse’ in which he wrote, using exquisite print, ‘Francois de Ripoff, Grand Reporter de la République.’ That document gave him free access to New York’s most exclusive clubs and societies, and soon he received invitations to cocktail parties and galas. With ‘le charme français,’ America lunged at his feet. François used it with great discernment. Yet, not everything went off as smoothly as he would have wished. The advertisers grabbed him to sell their products. In one television commercial, Ripov appears asleep, arms outstretched, while on the other half or the screen a beautiful blonde girl in a luxurious lace-trimmed dressing gown, slowly awakes. “Ah,” she sighs, “it’s you, my darling, my François.” Husbands and lovers were getting sick with jealousy. Very quickly he was swamped with orders and had to deliver the goods. The Gay libbers demanded his close collaboration, bestowing upon him the title of ‘Maître du Gai Savoir-Faire.’ Soon all this was literally getting out of hand. Even the political parties called on Ripov to redefine their campaign slogans. Both Parties wanted him. Ripov’s devastating popularity ended by creating a national turmoil: the country was on the brink of civil war, but this time the French would step out of the game. And step out Ripov did. Forgetting that he ever had a notion of French, or English, or for that matter, of any human language, Ripov flew, incognito, to Australia, and joined a pack of kangaroos.