Portraits of America #4: The Girl With A Thing For Napoleon

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This is my core friend α.

She is featured in many of my posts. She moved from Kansas City to New York four years ago, with the objective to stay for five years and reevaluate her love for the City then.

We’ve been on numerous adventures together and shared a considerable number of flats in various places. I legitimately thought I knew everything about her until the Napoleon breakout.

The conversation accidentally shifted to Napoleon at dinner tonight, and I described him as an imperialist dictator. α said that Napoleon was not French but Corsican, and that he managed to conquer the world despite his height. She has a “fascination by his brain, passion and physical body.” In her own words:  “I am intrigued by his obsession with Josephine, his complete narcissism, and his outfits. I also find him attractive in some of the paintings.”

She dressed as him for Halloween last year. She named herself “Napoleon Bones Apart” and added a collapsy skeleton part to her costume to justify the pun.

She piqued my curiosity. What was the reason behind that unusual passion?

α explained that it was a childhood thing. When she was a kid, her mother told her that one of her ancestors was serving in Napoleon’s army, or that he was close to Napoleon in some ways. The link is not clear.

Her child imagination made the shortcut to the belief that her ancestors were affiliated with Napoleon, and that she was therefore a descendant of Napoleon herself.

She used to walk around telling that story to whoever would listen because she was taking pride in having someone famous in her genetic background.

She grew up with that belief ingrained in her mental family constellation and developed a gentle obsession for him. Even as an adult.

That also makes me related to Napoleon in some way now. I am going to start walking around saying: “I am sharing a flat in Brooklyn with this descendant of Napoleon.”

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