In May of 1999,
Jack Roosevelt had just finished his first year of studies at the
University of Nebraska. He was an American History major with a
double minor in agriculture and English. So he decided to spend
the summer in Paris.
Although he did not speak
a word of French, Jack felt strangely at home in Paris. Cheese and
wine were a welcome break from the corn-fed diet he had known in
America. By day he smoked cigarettes at the many cafes in Montmarte
and at night he marvelled at the lights of the Eifle Tower. Whenever
he found himself missing his friends and family, he would hurry
to the Rue Sandinee for the finest in French culture. But most of
all, he found a general comfort in being surrounded by stern men
with thick moustaches.
Naturally, time passed more
quickly than he had planned. Before leaving Paris Jack realized
that he was a changed man. He questioned his life prior to the trip
and doubted he could ever return to the American way of living.
On the verge of a nervous breakdown, Jack decided to grow a moustache.
With his moustache Jack
felt that he could spread the depth of culture that he felt in France
to America, a country that now seemed devoid of anything relating
to culture. But upon arriving back in America, he was instantly
met with criticsm; his brother mocked him, his girlfriend shunned
him, and his mother feared for his life.
On the night of June 21,
1999, Jack Roosevelt was sleeping quietly in his bed. He awoke to
find his girlfriend, Betty, shaving his moustache off. Furious,
he flung her to the floor and began punching her repeatedly in the
arm. Hearing the commotion, Jack's mother hurried into the room,
pushed her way through the scattered mess of moustache hairs, and
pulled Jack off of Betty. Jack broke free and rushed out of the
room. "Merde!" is all that he said, again and again, as he ran from
the Roosevelt house never to return again.
Left with only half of a
moustache, Jack underwent a series of changes in his lifestyle.
First of all, he was no longer known as Jack Roosevelt, but rather
as Jacque Merde. As Jacque Merde he vowed to become as French as
one man can become in America: he subsisted on a diet of cheese,
bread, and wine; he began to erect his own Eifel Tower; he experimented
with wearing striped shirts and berets; and he swore off the English
language entirely. It was a difficult transformation, but he persisted.
A little more than a year
later, Jacque met Monsieur Albert Fausse-Couche, a street artist
who was surviving in America by drawing Frenchmen on tourists. Since
returning to America, this was the first man of integrity that Jacque
had come across. Luckily, Albert spoke French. The two became friends
and had nightly conversations about how much they wanted to punch
Americans in their patriotic arms. Soon they were writing songs
together. But they decided to give America a second chance, to use
their anger as a means to convert Americans to a French way of life...or
Thus began Beret!