Franz gets Angry by Adam Kluger
For some reason, Franz still refuses to answer any of my
phone-calls, e-mails or texts.
Not the type of behavior one might expect from a friend of over 30
But then again we are talking about Franz and I guess I was a bit
out of line. He invited me to one of his swanky parties and I made the faux pas
of saying offhandedly," I assume that it will be an ostentatious occasion rife
with conspicuous consumption given the company in attendance."
Well trust me when I say, that that comment went over not in the
least, as Franz hung up the phone immediately and I have not heard from him
since. I really had meant it as an innocent co-conspiratorial aside, as we have
both been to plenty of thosetypes of
keeping-up-with-the-Jones's type to-dos.
Needless to say, Franz was quite angry with me.
He has a thing about rules of etiquette. Unwritten rules. His
For example, to use a sports analogy - It is considered bad form for a sports
announcer in golf to speak in a loud voice when a player is making an important
shot. It is also considered bad luck for a baseball announcer to mention that a
pitcher has a no-hitter going in a game,
even if that is in fact what is happening. It just isn't done. Why jinx the
Now, there is a certain New York baseball announcer, who Franz
simply loathes, because he decides to flout the no mentioning of a no-hitter
ritual. The announcer always makes a special point of announcing that the
pitcher has a no-hitter in progress and every time he does that -
Franz goes absolutely crazy. He tosses objects around his apartment. Franz
writes angry letters to the station manager and to the actual sponsors of the
ballgames asking to replace the announcer because of incompetence. That's just
one example of Franz and his adherence to certain social rules.
Those advertisements on the subway cars in New York City really
nail it on the head.
Don't be this
guy...or that guy... as the colorful slides cleverly illustrate various
forms of frowned-upon, anti-social subway behavior.
One obnoxious character - occupying two subway car seats all by
himself, spreads his legs very wide to keep others away..."The
So funny, but so true.
Or there is another anti-social character - who chooses to hang
out right in front of the opening and closing subway doors - "The Door
Blocker " - instead of moving into the subway car to let more people in
- he stations himself right in front of the door, because he doesn't like being
crammed inside the car next to other people.
So selfish, right?
Or lastly, the inconsiderate person who wears a backpack or
shoulder bag and unknowingly swings it around and knocks it into other
It's no surprise to me that a certain Franz Phillipe Mugler
III - is deeply disturbed by the thought of all these individuals -
and so much more.
Franz Mugler is truly one weird duck.
Now, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made billions of dollars
coming up with hilarious TV skits about characters behaving badly because they
disagreed with the normal rules of polite society. Franz Mugler could have his
own TV show. He is constantly coming up with new ways to pick fights with
people over the silliest of matters. His fail-safe fall-back argument is that
other people are either stupid, rude or possibly anti-French.
Take yesterday morning for example. Sacre Bleu!
A typical incident at the bank. Empty. No one on-line.
Mugler, (pronounced Moog-lair) fills out his deposit slip walks
casually to the front of the line through the maze of metal stanchions and
leather ropes... like one is supposed to do. A busy, uptight, Upper-East Side
New York MILF, spotting Franz at the deposit table, ignores the custom of using
the empty "line area" and walks straight up to the empty "pre-teller space" -
right in front of Franz.
"Next, please," asks the young teller pleasantly.
"Uh, excuse me, but I was next," Franz states somewhat indignantly
to the woman in designer sun-glasses and a Lulu-Lemon track-suit, one-size
too-small, who pays practically no attention to him whatsoever while walking
straight to the teller-- except to giggle to herself incredulously.
" No actually you weren't," she replies
snarkily,"...you were filling out your deposit slip... I saw
" you just cut in front of me madam...I was clearly
standing here at the front of the line."
" You know it's really quite silly..."the lady replied still not
looking at Franz , "it's almost a semantic argument."
"Not really, it's more of a spatial matter actually - I was
on the line - you saw me here, Madam and just simply decided to rudely
cut in front of me by avoiding the line entirely ....I imagine
the bank put the line right here for a good reason in the first place,
don't you? At this, Franz spread both his arms widely to illustrate the
presence of the stanchions and leather ropes.
"Why don't we just ask the teller who was here first if you
don't believe me," Mugler continued.
The young teller looked quite embarrassed and confused and clearly
didn't want any real part of mediating the rather silly argument.
Fortunately, another older teller watching the incident quickly jumped
"Mr. Mugler- How are you? How are your flowers doing in this
terrible heat - please step down and let me take care of
"Thanks Ms. Primm. It's always so nice to know there are some
kind folks that still possess a modicum of civility in this city.
The other woman had already left the bank...but you get the idea.
Franz Mugler moves to the beat of his own passive-aggressive
Strangers aren't his main target though. Franz 's friends and
acquaintances are constantly put on notice for their various infractions and
social misdeeds, as Franz sees it. Emily Post was a rank amateur when it came
to keeping friends in line about maintaining the rules of polite
The telephone for instance. A useful form of technology and
conveyance for keeping in touch with others - is a constant topic of discourse
for Franz Mugler. His friends either seemingly always forgot to call him back -
a typical grievance. Do not call him back quickly enough. Do not answer the
phone in a quiet enough place. Do not give him full attention while on the
phone. Do not speak loudly enough into the phone or have called him at a
completely inopportune or inappropriate time. These are all quite serious
Franz's phone rules are somewhat legendary.
To express his displeasure Franz often simply hangs up in
mid-sentence to the offending "Franz phone rules abusing culprit" on the other
line. This is Franz' s most dramatic method to "teach a friend" about his/her
particular phone offense and to "train him/her" not to ever, ever
do it again.
If you do not answer your cell-phone when Franz calls you- he will
not leave a phone message. Ever. It irks him to have to wait - even 10
seconds... to respond to a phone message. If you answer your cell-phone but are
in mid-conversation with someone else - he becomes apoplectic. Why after-all
should he be forced to listen to your unimportant conversation - when he is
calling to speak with you and you alone? If your cell phone accidentally
pocket-dials him, Franz not only takes offense, he complains bitterly about the
matter in front of other people - to shame you into never ever ever
pocket-dialing him again. Like I said, Franz is very strict about phone
etiquette. For instance do not ever and I mean ever try to put him on
the phone with someone else if he is not prepared to speak with that person-
even if they are friends or acquaintances. For whatever reason - that breach of
phone protocol is one of the worst things you can ever do.
"How dare you put
me on the phone with that simpering idiot?" "what is this? ... The Love Boat?... are you my cruise director
now?...in charge of my entire social calendar...thanks anyway...please do NOT
do that again...understand?"
Perhaps, it's a simple matter of control. Who really knows? There
are often so many "Franz rules" I sometimes find it hard to keep track of them,
If a stranger is talking too loudly on their cell phone in a
restaurant... at first, they will get "the Franz Stare." If that does not work
, they will actually get a hand-written note on a napkin explaining just how
rude it is to conduct personal phone business in a place where people are
supposed to be dining. You can just imagine how well that goes over in
New York City. I love when they crumple it up and throw it at him. That's the
Franz is a grand fellow but he can have a bad temper on occasion,
due to what he deems to be a variety of inexcusable social
He simply hates when worker bees or vendors mess up an order or
He can't understand why certain people would or could make
a simple mistake.
He takes it all as a personal affront or attack. Rumor also has it
that Mugler is a member of the French version of Mensa. He's mentioned that
only once in an argument years ago...so who really knows?
One time, a local flower shop forgot to deliver flowers to a work
colleague who had had a death in the family. When Franz found out the flowers
were never delivered he went down to the flower shop and screamed at the owner.
"How could you do this?." "This person DIED!" "You were paid to deliver flowers
to his grieving family." "Don't you at least feel awful about screwing this
order up." "Forget about how bad you made me look." "Look how bad you
just made your business look!" Franz stood there red-faced screaming at a
somewhat befuddled flower-shop owner who didn't really care - and just
thought that Franz was absurd in his over-reaction. The flower-shop owner just
said, "So, should I send the flowers today?" A very reasonable question - that
led to yet another long-winded Franz Mugler diatribe that only subsided as a
police officer suddenly was seen walking past the flower-shop.
Some people get upset about the silliest stuff. Franz Mugler is
one of those kinds of people.
Franz has almost had fist-fights arguing over who hailed a
taxi-cab first...he always gets into arguments with Maitre D's - about people
cutting him on line to get tables at restaurants--never once thinking that he
should do what other people do and throw somebody a sawbuck once in a
while...At movie theaters when people sit in front of him - he mutters under
his breath angrily about how big the movie theatre is and he looks for
somewhere else to sit. Public transportation is the worst - buses, subways -
forget it. It's almost like a tinderbox for Franz . Taxi drivers piss him off
too. He gets in the cab and he's already pissed off if the window is open.
Clearly, the driver is trying to save money on the AC. God forbid the driver
takes a wrong turn or long route.
Sometimes a stranger decides to "tell off" Franz . Bad Idea. I
remember getting into a minor disagreement with Franz in a bookstore about some
small perceived slight. Franz was laying into me and I was apologizing -
although for the life of me I was probably not even at fault when a young
Korean-American woman had heard quite enough.
" You are perhaps the rudest person in the world," she said to
Franz stopped criticizing me for the moment and cast his stunned
gaze on the interloper.
"Actually, you are, Miss...what business is it of yours to
make rude comments about a discussion I'm having with my friend?"
" Some lucky friend...you're
being incredibly mean to him - I've been listening to the whole thing
for the past five minutes....the things you are saying to him are simply -
"...and who asked you to eavesdrop on our
"I didn't want to at all...but I was unfortunate enough to be
standing next to you on the checkout line."
" consider the misfortune mutual and your interruption and your
opinion completely unappreciated."
"You're a complete asshole"
" no actually you are....getting in the middle of other
"whatever..this guy is a complete jerk!" (yelling at the
top of her voice)
The young woman then stalked off.
The rest of the folks in the bookstore moved quickly away from the
confrontation like people moving away from a swarm of angry bees - sometimes
ugly confrontations are so ugly that they diminish the beauty of life
and make even a picturesque corner bookstore look and feel just awful like a
murder scene or a dead animal.
That's kind of how everybody felt after this incident. Just
Franz is strangely manipulative even when he is doing something
nice. He'll call up a friend and ask if the friend wants a piece of
"Great- come and pick it up today before I throw it out...this
afternoon...and bring a bottle of wine...I'm all out...we can figure out a
price for the piece after you see it "
" Want some old clothes? Come by and help clear out my closets. I
want this stuff gone..and I might need you to help me move some stuff around -
my back is acting up...you're strong."
There's always a price. There is always an angle. Nothing ever
seems to be done based on simple kindness.
Such a sad, strange, jaded world.
One time Franz texted me in quite a bit of exasperation as I had
been unreachable for a number of hours -
"...When I call you - answer the damn phone. When I text you - you
text me back ...damn it - I'm important. More important than anyone you
may be engaged with presently.
At first, I laughed when I read the text. Then I realized he was
Another time Franz invited me to a cocktail party to celebrate a
work function that I had to unfortunately decline for an important family
anniversary - lord knows, I still get reminded about how "incredibly rude I
was" to blow off his important work event.
When you visit Franz at his Upper West Side Apartment there are
always so many rules.
"Please remember to take off your shoes when you enter the
" Use a coaster."
"If you need to use the remote control ask me--you'll just break
" If you don't mind put your dishes in the dish washer--big dishes
on the bottom. Plastic in the sink. "
"If you have to smoke please go
" No eating on the couch please. Please don't leave any popsicle
sticks on the table-- I got it in Woodstock."
" Try not to make too much noise - the
" You can't stay too late I need to be at work early tomorrow.
"If you are going to be on your cell-phone ignoring me - what's
the point of you even being over here - could you be any more rude?"
You get the idea.
Mugler describes himself as a philosopher-artist. He has various
sized TV sets arranged randomly all over his studio apartment like Nam Jun Paik
sculpture all piping in the same image. He often listens to discordant Jazz
while smoking a pipe, burning incense on the window sill, and soaking his bare
feet on a large cooking pot filled with cold water and sliced
There is nothing wrong with his feet - he just likes the way it
feels - so he tells his visitors.
He named all of his sea monkeys and is devoted to them all -
Gratch, Gazoodle, Gerplunk, Gazoink, Gknip, Gknop and Lady Wonderly. He even
has a framed diploma on the wall from the Crustacean College of Sea Monkey
This all said, Franz Mugler is still absolutely the finest person
I have ever met in my entire life. His pure heart, soul, brain and sly sense of
humor make his frequent behavioral transgressions - but a minor, oft-times
I know this might seem incongruous. But it is the absolute