I thought it was going to be terrible. Why? The bearded guy with the Yves Saint Laurent glasses was babbling into a phone and awkwardly moving his finger up and down. I think he wanted to convey to me that he was busy. The bearded guy had ordered a White Russian (maybe he was already on his second; I couldn’t see). I had no idea how an afternoon with Fréderic Beigbeder at a bar in Paris would end. Back in the day. It was 2001 and we talked about his book, 39,90. The story: An ad guy prone to excess loses himself in said excess and ends up hating the world of products. We talked for three hours. Beigbeder, more interested in Rousseau and Balzac, and more bourgeois than I realized, had written this book. Beigbeder was one of the first to write these slim, quick books for us. Books from the here and now. Not everyone likes them, but we did, together. We also liked Love Takes Three Years and Au Secours Pardon.
We saw each other again in Berlin a year later and Frédéric showed me a picture of his young daughter Chloé, at night, in front of loudspeakers at a club. I hardly knew him but I sensed that he was struggling with the same things in Paris as here: security, the search for a person in your life versus the destruction of security and not being able to make the person in your life happy.
I hardly knew Frédéric, but I understood him from a distance that never went away. We became a DJ team. At the club Pelham, we played only Michael Jackson for two hours. In Berlin, you can do that and it would have worked for Beigbeder in Paris as well. By now he was a superstar, surrounded by blondes and raven-haired girls and redheads. Our DJ life continued: a strange anniversary at the Galleries Lafayette in Berlin. Fred’s girlfriend Laura Smet was there too, absentminded and beautiful. We talked below the DJ booth about Fred. My dress had long been ruined. Surrounded by head-high mousse au chocolat cakes and magnums of champagne, we could barely move. There are these Alice in Wonderland moments with Frédéric Beigbeder: Do cakes of this size really exist?
Since 2001, I had met Frédéric regularly, by chance, in absurd places. The elevator in the Martinez Hotel in Cannes, where Fred embarrassed us with a weird one-liner. At Le Baron, where I suddenly spotted him while in the middle of an epic fight with my boyfriend at the time. Fred said, “You like beautiful men, no matter what, eh?” I had never thought about that.
Fred has now written this book Oona & Salinger. He’s married to Lara, a girl that seems quite similar to Oona. For Fred, that’s a good thing. He’s doing well. We chat like old school friends. Oona & Salinger shows the Fred from the last few years, the Fred that I know. He’s not cynical and loves others and his books more than himself. Our relationship is like that between Peter Pan and the green fairy Tinkerbell. “Tinkerbell is a fairy that helps Peter Pan find fun things to do in Never Never Land.” A beautiful, very American description of friendship.
Translation: Sophie Schulte-Hillen