The latest thing in Europe is “to have an existence.” I noticed this phrase often coming up while half-following the French election campaign. They now have a thirty-nine year old technocrat for president, named after a diacritical mark in Latin and Hungarian. That makes him, I think, a long vowel, or a heavy syllable. I shall think of him poetically, with breves on either side. On checking, I see that he may also have an existence in Livonian, Samogician, school Arabic, and various Polynesian languages.

Indeed, I wondered why they declared him the victor with the vote from Tahiti not yet in. Have they no existences there, too?

His wife is sixty-four, as everyone must know. They’ve been “an item” since he was fifteen. That would be when she was thirty-nine, I calculate. But they are married, now: him for the very first time. He and his step-daughter were classmates; “Ms Trogneux,” as she calls herself, their teacher. Drama is what she taught, I gather. And in a Jesuit school. She says that Macron was “precocious.” She was an heiress to a wealthy chocolatier, married to a banker at the time. (They had other children.) A lot of interesting things are possible under French law. Here in America, she might have been prosecuted, instead. One sees that sort of thing a lot in Fox News.

Suddenly I remember a girl of fourteen. Her surname is lost to memory, but she had the same given name as this new first lady of France: “Brigitte.” Long tumbling auburn hair, sun-bleached, tied into a ponytail while working. Sharp features, and a beautiful slight assymetry. Piercing blue eyes. We were picking grapes together in the Médoc. (You could get these jobs easily, during the harvest, even if you were an illegal like me, just travelling through.) The girl looked older; “precocious” I would say. I was myself already an old man, some months past twenty.

Everyone drank wine, from big tumblers, just to quench our thirst; all ages. This in a shack in the fields, to which one retired, thirsty and exhausted. Good red “table wine,” as I recall; better than the stuff they export. Perhaps that had something to do with it.

Confusing myself with Henry V, and the young lady with Catherine of Valois, I asked if we could be married. My French was as bad as Henry’s. (It is worse now.)

It turned out that we could, under French law.

But she said that her father would not approve. (He didn’t like “Anglo-Saxons.”) And as she was plentifully supplied with big brothers, I decided not to press my suit.

Apparently, this Macron’s parents didn’t approve, either. But I would guess he is more wilful than I.

Everyone “has an existence,” as I have said, from my attentive reading of the European fashions. This includes everyone I’ve mentioned. And they have a philosophy, called Existentialism, over there. It says that everyone has an existence, and develops through acts of will, not only by thought but by “feelings,” in a world that is perfectly absurd. Ah, Europe. (Perhaps Existentialism is out of date, I must check.)

It doesn’t really matter who is President of France. The country has never been governable. I didn’t like her much, but thought that “Marine” Le Pen would have been more entertaining. I would not go so far as to say that she doesn’t have an existence any more; only that it must be diminished.

Everyone has an existence, you know. And a will, too, that’s what I’ve found. And these days anyone can marry anyone, it seems. That’s because they “have an existence.”

It’s all in a book I was reading, back when I was picking grapes: L’Être et le néant, by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Goes well with big tumblers of wine.