EVENING – THE ELYSEE PALACE
President Emmanuel Macron sits in front of a roaring fire, re-reading a biography of Charles de Gaulle. He swirls a glass of Malbec in one hand, with a plate of macarons close at hand.
A sudden noise catches his attention. He looks up.
MACRON: Who’s there?
Who’s there? Reveal yourself?
A man emerges from the darkness. He is dressed in a sequined suit. Reflections from the fireplace dance across it, making it seem like he is walking amidst the flames. Believe me, if you saw this effect on stage, you’d be suitably impressed.
BJORKMAN: It is I, Christer Bjorkman!
BJORKMAN: Christer Bjorkman? Swedish icon? Melodifestivalen producer? Eurovision 1992 contestant with the song I morgon är en annan dag?
MACRON: [has no idea who he is] Oh, of course. But how did you get in here, past my security services?
BJORKMAN: Oh, your wife let me in. She’s a big fan.
BJORKMAN: Oooh, macarons! I love those!
He reaches for one. Emmanuel slaps his hand away.
MACRON: Those are Macron’s macarons! Not yours! Anyway, tell me why you’re here, interrupting my precious leisure time.
BJORKMAN: Oh, yes, right. Well, I’ve come here to make you aware of a danger that impacts both of our countries, Sverige and France. And that danger is….
He pauses dramatically. Music swells from the corners of the room.
MACRON: Where is that music coming from?
BJORKMAN: Haven’t you EVER watched Mello? Don’t you know that a dramatic pause only gets more dramatic with the right music? Also, it’s coming from Henric.
Henric von Zweigbergk pops out from behind a curtain, wearing his headset and leather pants. He waves.
HENRIC: Hello Mr. President! Don’t forget to gasp dramatically after Christer finishes his announcement.
The music reaches a crescendo.
BJORKMAN: That danger is…..the Netherlands!
MACRON: What are you talking about?
Henric pops out from behind the curtain again.
HENRIC: Sorry Mr. President, but you forgot to gasp dramatically.
MACRON: I’m French. The most dramatic I get is this.
BJORKMAN: Excuse me, but I believe we were discussing our common threat…the Netherlands!
MACRON: What are you talking about? They’re an ally and trading partner. We’re their four largest investor, and sixth-largest supplier. We haven’t had a problem with them since…well, since the War of Spanish Succession.
BJORKMAN: Really? Well, let me ask you this – what’s the world’s best cheese?
MACRON: *sniffs audibly* Brie. Or Camembert. Or Roquefort. I mean, France is a hotbed of great cheeses, so you can pick pretty much any one of them and it’s guaranteed to be the world’s best.
BJORKMAN: Really? Well, what about Edam? Or Gouda? Believe it or not, the Netherlands now exports more cheese worldwide than France.*
MACRON: Sacre bleu!
BJORKMAN: I know! We must stop them!
MACRON: Wait, what does this have to do with Sweden? I didn’t think you had a big cheese market.
BJORKMAN: Never mind our cheeses. Let’s talk about France again. You’re the country of love, correct?
MACRON: Oui oui oui!
BJORKMAN: And how do you show your love?
MACRON: You show up at their apartment with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine and let amour take over.
BJORKMAN: Sounds romantic! But what if there were no flowers?
BJORKMAN: Yes, the Netherlands does more than 4 billion dollars worth of trade in cut flowers every year.
MACRON: Wait, why are you quoting these figures in dollars, not Euros?
BJORKMAN: Because we use kronor and I thought it would be a good middle ground and never mind about the currency! Just think about what a flower embargo could do to France’s lovers.
MACRON: Zut alors!
BJORKMAN: I mean, we’ve all seen what happened when they let their economy run on tulips. The threat to France’s emotional and economic health is too great!
MACRON: But what does this have to do with Sweden?
BJORKMAN: Never mind that! Look, the Netherlands is even coming for your wine. France has about 15% of the global wine and spirits market, but you know what the Netherlands is doing? They’re building vineyards! There are more than 170 vineyards there now. They’re preparing for wine self-sufficiency! They’re planning for a future when they no longer need Champagne or Merlot or Bordeaux. And what will you do then!
MACRON: Mon dieu! But, remind me again, what does this have to do with Sweden? Do you even drink wine that’s not mulled?
BJORKMAN: Never mind that! Look, between cheese and flowers and wine, it looks like the Netherlands is a threat that must be stopped.
MACRON: Completely! But what can we do? The EU governs our relations. I can’t start a preemptive trade war with them.
BJORKMAN: But what if you crippled the nation’s frite production? What if you stole all the potatoes in a single city – Rotterdam, for example, in a daring, one-night operation, just to show them what you’re capable of?
MACRON: Genius! But how?
BJORKMAN: I’ve assembled a crack team. John Lundvik. Thomas G:Son. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We’ll handle everything – or mostly everything. I need two things from you.
MACRON: Name them! We’ll make it happen.
BJORKMAN: I need you to give me the prettiest man in France, and I need you to lend me the Eiffel Tower for about three hours on a Sunday night.