“C’est mon mari!” yelled Arianne as we rushed into the kitchen to help her husband.
Many years ago, I became the distributor of YBA electronics, a French company based in Paris and owned by Yves Bernard Andre. I took on the distributorship because the products were really musical and there was something romantic about doing business with a French company in Paris. Yves, who is still a friend of mine, taught me the correct way to drink wine; for every glass of wine, drink a glass of water. This way, you can keep drinking all night. He also told me that the French rarely drink Perrier. They prefer Badoit, as the bubbles are more delicate. When in France, that’s now my water of choice.
Yves, like most people in the Hi-Fi business, is somewhat eccentric. He is a professor of computer science and one day I asked him to show me his computer system at work. At that time I was constantly searching for a simple system to use on my own business. His eyes lit up and he took me into his office. He went into his desk and removed a small plastic box. In it, were index cards. Every card had client information entered with a list of items purchased. He smiled at me and said, “really simple, and it can’t get hacked.”
On my third or fourth visit to Paris he had invited all his international distributors to a conference. Yves had booked us into a typical Parisian hotel not too far from Notre Dame. Typical meant that the room was tiny, the bathroom acceptable and the bed concave.
We spent the day listening to and discussing his latest amplifiers and CD players, which were as always, magnificent. In the evening we had an (how do the French do it?) amazing dinner somewhere off the Champs-Élysées; then we all trooped over to the Crazy Horse nightclub for entertainment.
The Crazy Horse is a Parisian tourist trap. It features a burlesque show where about a dozen, seemingly identical, nude women dance onstage. As entertainment it harkens back to a time gone by when objectifying women was “de rigueur.”
Frankly I found it boring but the cheap champagne we were served helped to mitigate the pain. The show over, Yves disappeared to pay the bill. After a while, we realized that Yves had not returned. I decided to look for him. I glanced in the kitchen window and to my amazement, I saw him fighting with some waiters. Four of them were holding him horizontally while a fifth was punching him in the face. I yelled to Arianne, his wife, and we all rushed into the kitchen to save him. On seeing this group of people stream in, the waiters dropped Yves and stood back. This resulted in a lot of yelling and we eventually managed to leave the club with Yves somewhat intact. His clothes were torn and he had a bloody nose. During the melee I eyed a rare bottle of vintage champagne glinting on a nearby shelf, which I pocketed.
When we assembled a block away we learned that when Yves offered to settle the bill they denied receiving the deposit he had paid when he booked the event and the fight ensued. We then cracked open my booty and drank to a battle lost but a bottle and an evening won.