Jean’s name is not pronounced like our Levi’s. It’s pronounced the French way. We were hoping that his real name was John and that he chose to call himself Jean out of that same painful tick that makes some of us Americans consciously forget ourselves and call eggplant aubergine and, even more offending, zucchini courgette. There was once this girl we met when we lived in Prague who did it all the time. She moved over from Tampa or Long Island or something like that and suddenly, three weeks in, it’s aubergine this and courgette that. This is both unforgiveable and hilarious and provided plenty of opportunities to showcase the snarky pettiness of Fine Bagels. We did this because the more we snarked, the more distanced we saw ourselves from her ilk, as though we hadn’t bastardized our name with an irrelevant accent aigu and an -elle suffix for the entire duration of the seventh grade. But Jean disappointed us. That’s really his name. Like Jean-Marie Le Pen, but not like Jean Stapleton.We first noticed Jean because he wasn’t wearing any socks with his Birkenstock Boston clogs, which means that he was poorly raised. We went to him intending to insult his mother, father, Au Pair, or whatever Swiss boarding school had the lion’s share of his upbringing and then offer him a pair of socks. But when we attempted to escalate the situation and segue towards that point, Jean mumbled something about low blood sugar, how he’d almost worn a pair of red socks today, and finding balance. “It’s very physical, isn’t it? Balance.” Clearly this gentleman was not an object in a state of stable equilibrium. So we continued to listen.After he told us the meaning of several latin prefixes and we disagreed with him about the functionality of homeopathy (Fine Bagels: What about The Clap? Jean: If you love something, set it free), we asked him where he’s from and he answered cryptically. He did tell us that once he lived in Boston for three weeks. We both approved of and believed that until he couldn’t tell us the difference between a New England hot dog bun and everyone else’s hot dog bun. The hot dog bun question when he claimed to have once eaten a lobster roll but went on to provide us with a detailed description of a clam roll. Jean told us many things that made us confused, surely by our own ignorance. He semi-quoted a line to The Door’s song Peace Frog, but changed the last word from “union” to “human.” He said, “Blood is the rose of mysterious human.” He said this many times.
Beyond his fine coat, tie, and choice of footwear, Jean also had a man-bun. We asked him about it. This is what he said:
“It’s a struggle to transcend that which is boyhood and ultimately arrive at that which is manhood, moreover humanhood, and further still humanehood.”
This led to his describing the bun not as a man-bun, but rather as a boy-bun. We asked Jean how old he is and he told us that he’s old enough to party. Jean imitated a cat for a while. He was a wonderful cat. It was both a pleasure and a delight to meet and speak with such a nice, well-dressed, young eccentric like Jean.