This message is confidential; its contents do not constitute a commitment by Paribas except where provided for in a written agreement between you and Paribas. Any unauthorised disclosure, use or dissemination, either whole or partial, is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient of the message, please notify the sender immediately.

Ce message est confidentiel ; son contenu ne reprisente en aucun cas un engagement de la part de Paribas sous riserve de tout accord conclu par icrit entre vous et Paribas. Toute publication, utilisation ou diffusion, mjme partielle, doit jtre autorisie prialablement. Si vous n'jtes pas destinataire de ce message, merci d'en avertir immidiatement l'expiditeur.



A storeowner was tacking a sign above his door that read "Puppies For Sale." Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner's sign. "How much are you going to sell the puppies for?" he asked.

The storeowner replied, "Anywhere from $30 to $50."

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have $2.37," he said. "Can I please look at them?"

The storeowner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that little dog?"

The storeowner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn't have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited.

"That is the little puppy I want to buy."

The storeowner said, "No, you don't want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you"

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the storeowner's eyes, pointing his finger, and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I'll pay full price. In fact, I'll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for."

The storeowner countered, "You really don't want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like other puppies."

To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the storeowner and softly replied, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!"

Being the class nerd gave me little to no confidence at all. Tall and thin. Curly blonde hair. Glasses. Out of place situation was the inevitable consequences of being the smart guy. It may appear timid at first, but believe me, all my days in school that I have lived like an hermit gave me the skin of a nutshell , immune to all sorts of attacks. Just get used to it.

Four years of high school was the same.  I finished each level , travelling the same road similar to that of the previous year's as though it was just a replay. No girl committed a mistake of dating me. Well, of course, I couldn't put the blame on girls alone. I was afraid to ask., no matter what a real nutshell I had become , this fear of rejection still dwelled within. Inferiority complex , as they say. But my mama always told me there was absolutely nothing to feel inferior about. My brains was a gift, she says, a rare gift that almost became  a curse, I added silently.

College came. Still, never dated. Never been kissed. Always the fore-eyed geek. - the  only virgin left in the country. Nevertheless, I was determined to reach my goals and not let anybody put me down.  I was determined to be twice harder as  an armor.  So the world revolved that I was just hooked up on my studies as  everybody on the campus was engrossed on getting their girlfriends undressed. I let the world go on. Just get used to it, I told myself. I was resolved to making lots of money when I grow up and make up for what I had missed.  All my life, I had been nobody. I thought that someday, I deserve to be somebody. If I can not find anybody to make me feel somebody, I will make myself somebody on my own.

I always get the stubborn notion that life in the industry world was similar to ratio and proportion. The more you make you money, the more you get respect. The more respect, the more fame. The more fame, the more women. Although I have lost my interest in women ever since I was born,, this little hope that someday, a woman will make feel somebody never left me. I still prayed, though never really did anything. Maybe that was why I was a solitarian for what was like the whole my life, including college. Just do your best and God will do the rest. But I never did anything.

On one of those days that I took writing for the school newspaper so seriously like my bride, a girl approached me.. Not just any girl, mind you. But THE girl, Jean McKinley , all time popular and heavily revered and feared girl on the campus. She wasn't the typical snob cheerleader. In fact, she wasn't a cheerleader. Too good to be one, as she told me. She was the acting coach of the basketball team, which gave her the opportunity to boss everybody around. Well, nobody could blame her - the niece of the real hard-going coach was as tough as her Uncle. She brought glory to the team, and even if she acted like a total  high-hat , nobody dared to go and defy her in the face. Even the usually snobby cheerleaders bowed before her, though everybody was aware they talked behind her back. Just behind her back. While she , Jean McKinley could call them bitchy assholes right in their faces and she gets a faint thank you in return. It was like she was entitled to be mean,,  a privilege respected by almost everybody.

It was a rumor that an offer came from modeling agency for her. She may have turned it down since I still often saw her in the campus. She was the only one I knew who writes in the school newspaper and didn't get a single word of mockery in her face. She could be a bright student as she likes and still gets the regard without looking like a total nerd like me. She could go play video games and look cool doing it.  It was a surprise that she came to me while I was busy in the cafeteria with my date - my assignment.

"Hello," she greeted me, sitting at the edge of the table.

"Hi," I muttered, concentration my writing. She didn't like my indifferent manners. She sat back up, knocking my drinks down with her butts. It spilled on the paper. The paper I was preparing for weeks. I looked up, giving her the ultimate expression which firmly read "Bored". She smiled, sticking the cigarette back to its place in her mouth. She was 5'8'', dark brown hair, big green eyes, a cigarette always enclosed between her fingers that had beautifully painted nails. She had one of the nicest set of teeth I have seen, gorgeous smile and very deceptive eyes. I couldn't help remembering Rose, the character in Street Fighter which had the caption in one of my posters : the alluring eyes of deception. But I was nutshell. I was supposed to be immune.

" Aw, sorry, William. I didn't mean to spill all over your paper." She was the only one who calls me William. Everybody else called me Will. She says she likes William best. I wonder why.

"Do you mind?" I was attracted to her but I was unwilling to show, especially that I know I will just be turned down. It just so happened that it was my lucky day, one that never came to me in my high school years. She asked me out. I said yes. After all, I would be stupid if I let this one little opportunity pass by. It was my ticket to being somebody. Did you know Will Cramer dates Jean? Wow. Isn't he great? How did he do it? Now, I could not only be Will the geek, but Will, Jean's date. If only I could use her family name….

I dated her not only because of her popularity, but also because I like her. Jean was had a very firm girl. I never heard she dated someone and got dumped. She was always the dumper. But frankly, I never heard she dated anybody in the campus. I have seen her with dates, of course, but men and not boys. Nobody could ask her out. Nobody had the nerve. She got linked with men ten years older than her and always ended up triumphant.  I don't think anybody could make her cry. Well, except her lack of cigar.

We went out until after college. I still don't know why she chose me over those hard-chested handsomely chiseled football players all drooling over her. I had the feeling the someday, she was going to dump me, so I did my best not to get too close to her. I learned from the professional folks about ten years older than I who still had tears in their eyes.

I began my profession of writing - journalist. Funny, I took up literature. But it required much of my time with such lousy pay that I shifted to anywhere with something better. An auction house. I was a yuppie. Proud and on the way. With dreams of being the next Bill Gates. Who could have thought I'd get the girl before the money?

It was then that one time she asked me to go to Las Vegas. Her treat. She was wealthy, I was aware of that, and often wondered where she gets her money. I have never seen any family of her, except her Uncle coach. She drives up to the auction house to pick me up in her red sports car. She got many cars, all of which were sports car. She made sure the color of her car matches the color of her nails.

I still went with her. Every sane male in the auction house envied me. At first, it was great. But  sooner or later, it got so boring. Anyway, we went to Las Vegas. We slept in the same room . She wanted that. But I was reluctant to go and sleep in the same bed with her. But she ordered me to do so. Have I already mentioned she got me to remove my glasses and wear contaclenses instead? It helped a lot. I trusted her fashion sense. Soon right after that, girls in the auction house flirted with me. But she made sure she got chains around my neck and kept me all to herself. Kind of cool if you ask me. William Cramer, the ex-nerd, now the man of Jean McKinley's life?

She asked me to get married. I should have known why, of all, places, Las Vegas. I accepted her proposal, and in an hour, a drunken priest wed us. A witness was but whoever we found on our way.

I thought it was some kind of fake wedding, one of the main reasons I agreed completely without hesitation. I didn't mind. She couldn't get anything from me. She was richer than I was. But I was wrong. The wedding was genuine one and the drunken whoever wasn't just someone Jean paid for to play with us. But no matter, I didn't care. True, I was always imagining the time when we'd have sex, but then , I had outgrown that dream and one of main goals at that time was to be big time money maker. She already had money. She didn't care.

We didn't have sex that same night. Not because I wasn't in the mood, but plainly because she didn't ask for it. It was fine. We went gambling. After all, it was Las Vegas. I used my brains; she used her beauty. Soon, it was just the battle between the two of us. But I was resolved to win. I did. After all, I was Will Cramer, the brains. And I used it. That was one of those moments that I knew my mama was right - brains was my gift. That was the time I developed my esteem.

I knew she got upset, though she didn't show it that same night. But I didn't know that it was something she'll keep for the rest of her life. Nobody beats Jean Mckinley. But hell, I did. Sooner or later, our married life became nothing but the battling ground.

I told my mama about the wedding. She freaked out, but soon came to accept it. Somehow, she didn't like me getting married without her witnessing it. I couldn't blame her for not speaking to me for a long time. She thought it was her that made me want to marry early. I sent her roses and all those stuffs until she forgave me. She did, finally.

Meanwhile, me and Jean got a house. We first lived in her condo, but I thought we'd have to live in our own house, not just hers. She agreed. But we couldn't agree on what type of house. She wanted a grand one, huge, while I want just a little house where we could still see each other. She got her way. Again. But since I told her all I had money was for a small one, she decided to pay for the 75% of the cost.

She got a job. In the office, like me. But she chose a taller building, higher floor, more prestigious, higher salary Almost easily, she got on top of the pyramid. . I bought a Lexus. We had sex, finally. But I should have known, it was well planned. It was immediately after her petition of labor privileges was approved in her company. She filed the petition herself. The so-called privileges shouldn't have been given the least bit attention almost everybody in the executive level were males. Who cares about child birth? But she used their differences against them. Being the only woman in fifteen powerful backbone of the company, she made it look like she was a helpless fish among might predators. She made them see how unfair it was to be in her position and the only thing she was asking was the labor privileges . believe me, it was indeed privileges : three months of maternity leave with pay,  parturition bonus, medical privileges, etc. No one had ever planned her pregnancy as well as she did.

She stayed mostly at home. I prohibited her from smoking, but I always had this feeling that she was cheating on me. Smokers will always be a smoker. She made it a point not to get a maid, even though we made a lot to feed six hundred people in one year.  I know she still wanted revenge for losing . And she was using her pregnancy as an excuse to keep me at home to serve her.  I didn't buy it; Too smart to do so. But I stayed at home. It was one incident that I wished I was pregnant. Maybe I could get my company to have the same labor privileges she filed for.

After nine months of slavery and oppression, the day finally came. Sometimes, it seemed like getting your stomach big was a lot better than working for any woman who had her stomach big. Unfortunately, she was fickle-minded. Another excuse that I serve her.

It was a boy.  We had an argument. About what? About naming the kid! She acted as though the kid was hers alone. I remember the argument pretty well. We were inside her room some days after her delivery. She was screaming at me.

"It was my belly he got out from. The privilege of naming him is mine!"

Why was she talking about stupid privileges, anyway? I think I had enough privileges for a year! "Well, it's not like you didn't need my sperm!" I snarled angrily. I wasn't going to give in to whatever she wanted this time. The nurse looked from me to Jean, then back, then exited the room quietly.

She pouted. "You keep your sperm to yourself! This baby is mine."

I sighed. After several hours of arguing, I just sighed. I gave in after all.  She named the boy Lee. I didn't know if that had got something to do with the Chinese food she had been engrossed with during her pregnancy, but even if I wanted to name him after Bill Gates, Jean's mind was made up. Lee.

We got back to our normal life. She was happy going back to work and to her cigars and regaining her figure as her co-workers were happy to have back with a welcoming hug. On the contrary, my boss welcomed be with a  dry comment. "What happened? Did you hate your tomb?"  By the way he was talking, I knew he wanted me out. Fine. I resigned, but got a job almost quickly after. I didn't know if it was coincidence, but I got the job on a building just opposite hers. To think, we never rode the same car. She had her sports car, I got my luxurious one. We went home and parked next to each other, pretending not to notice anything . If her car was the color of her nails, I made sure mine was the color of my tie. There were times that even the way home was a race. She was first of course. Sports car.

Lee greeted his mother happily whenever she goes home. By the time she named him, I knew she wanted Lee to be hers alone. I didn't mind. After all, it was her belly. By the next one, I'll be sure to have it. No matter what.

The boy was a healthy one and caught the resemblance of his mother. Yes. It was her belly she came from. He called me Dad, he called her Mother. That was what she wanted. When I had my own kid, I'll make sure he/she calls me Father and call her Mom.

When Lee was four, Jean had her second pregnancy. By that time, she transferred to another company and earned several more sports car. I need not to ask if she filed for that labor privileges again. I'm so sure she planned it before hand before ordering me to get undressed. But I refused to have sex with her unless she lets me name it. She agreed, but I was unwilling to just do it without guarantee that she will. Only God knows how deceitful women are. Again, Rose's eyes flashed to me : the alluring eyes of deception. I learned from my previous experience.

The next day, I called a lawyer. She called hers. We made a deal. I guess one of the purposes of money in this world is to stuff it into somebody else's mouth to keep him from talking - or worse- laughing. That was why neither of our lawyers laughed at our stupidity. I bet my lawyer already wanted to hit me hard and shake and tell me to wake up. But then, I was wide awake. I will have sex with her if she lets me name the baby. At risk were all her eleven sports car, her two thousand dollar cigarette holder and renaming Lee.

That night, I felt safe having sex with her. Finally. I'll have somebody who'll call me father.

Nine months again. Hopefully, of not hell. We had maids around. Two unlucky women for Lee as his nannies. But since I was having a good job with a good pay and I can't endanger my new boss commenting on my tomb for the second time around, we had many other maids to feel Jean's wrath in my behalf. She got her own too and made them wear uniforms -blue checkered skirts and blouses in contrast to mine which were plain white. So I hired whoever Italian to redesign it. It was a never ending rivalry. What a surprise, we still go to the same room and same bed.

The next one was a girl, hopefully, like me. My prayers were answered. Finally, God may have said. You did something  and not just pray around. I deserve a slap on t he back. And because Jean loved her cars and her cigarette holder and Lee, she let me name the second one. I named her Diana. She resembled me so much. She called me Father, she called Jean mom. Now it's quits.

The birth of Diana gave birth to a new rivalry between us, subconsciously or not. Now she had her rook, I had mine. Diana was my aces, Lees was hers. Lee was her treasure as Diana was my princess. At first, I really thought of no competition. I just wanted discipline. So whenever Lee thought of going somewhere for no particular good gain, I say no. It was then that Jean cuts in. She says yes to whatever I say no. It was part of the game. So Lee ended up only asking her permission. I let them be. I have my Diana. William Cramer had his princess, alas, after six years of dealing a new game.

I didn't want to spoil my kids, but I didn't want to lose the game either. Jean had her maids' uniforms redesigned, but I was pretty convinced the clothing of my maids were still better. Jean bought Lee his first car when he was twelve. I gave Diana a notebook computer. Jean allowed Lee to go with his friends in partying. I sent Diana to a European tour with her friends. Soon, I found out Jean was buying Lee his own condo with the excuse that the boy is growing too big for the house. Like anybody would buy that. I decided to buy Diana her own limo. The game just wouldn't end.

Diana became my world as Lee was hers. But I realized that the contest had its own good points. For one thing , we both worked hard. I, for my 'princess', and she for her 'treasure'.

The game was passed on to our kids, unluckily. And they played pretty well for beginners. Lee's practice became Diana's practice and my princess barely asks her mom about anything, even for permission. However, unlike Jean, I wasn't so lenient to my princess. I didn't want her to rot like Jean's son was. So I still say no whenever the needs arises. But of course, Jean didn't have to know. It will give her the idea that she was winning. That I had such a rotten kid I couldn't get along well with. And for all the world, my princess wasn't rotten.

Sometimes, if felt sad that we played the game. Our children became our pawns, victims of the game that began in simple gambling. The contest was the strongest legacy we granted our children, subconsciously speaking. They acted pretty much like our puppets, or if not, our arms against each other. Time came when I wanted to stop.  But it had been began and I had played along, so that left me with no other option but to continue playing. Lee's behavior reflected Jean and the same thing to Diana and me, whereas it should be both of us responsible for both kids' bearing. Lee went to a high class private school and I made sure my princess goes to the equally the same kind of school. And it happened to be that their school were rivals as well. In school , they were surprised my wife was still alive. I didn't attend Lee's graduation from elementary. I didn't know. I got no invitation. But during Diana's, I wanted her to feel that she still had her family, so I begged for cease-fire. Jean agreed. Seeing me beg was enough for her. It was even more. She was one point up and we both knew that.

Almost the whole school was surprised. They thought Diana's only family was her father. Most of them thought I just remarried. Jean and Diana bore to almost no resemblance. And neither did me and Lee. Plus we rid home in different cars. It felt stupid, somehow. We were going to the same destination. Plus Diana's maids wore a different uniform from those of Lee's.

Diana was nine when she went to my library one day. She was my angel and my princess , and I made sure I always had time for her.

"Father?" she asked as she walked in.

I folded the paper I was reading and smiled at her warmly. "Yes, princess?" I resumed to my paper.

She sat down at a chair across me, glancing down at her hands. Her school taught her not only logic, but also manners. "I was thinking. Why don't you get a divorce with mom?"

I put my paper down. Surprised. Where in the world could you hear your own child suggesting you get divorce with her own mother? It was supposed to be otherwise, wasn't it? I thought about it for a while. "I can't, princess," I answered with a sigh. I knew that if I get a divorce , her mother will be another point up. I couldn't bear to see Jean give out her vainglorious smile that was saying "you can't take it, can't you?" I knew Jean. She'll be so damned pleased. And I did everything to displease her, just as she was saying yes to every no I say to Lee.

Luckily, my princes understood my situation, somehow. Smiling, she just left and closed the door behind her gently. What a lovely child, I thought. And she's my daughter. She was growing up really graceful and pretty. I was pretty happy she wasn't like me : a forsaken nobody with glasses. She was going to be something I always wanted, but never at all became .

Four years later on a sunny afternoon, Lee came bursting in. Jean was by the poolside on her robe, smoking after taking her daily afternoon swim.  I sat across her on a lounge, reading the newspaper. I didn't at all minded that he kissed Jean on the cheeks and just greeted me with a faint "hey, dad!" All his seventeen years on earth, I never felt a dad to him. Ever since Jean named him Lee, he was hers.

Lee had grown up a good-looking guy resembling those bastards who used to make fun of my glasses back in high school. Maybe that was why I didn't like him. He had Jean's hair, her green eyes, her height. All in all, he was the female version of his mother - from looks to mannerisms to personality. And as Jean got all men falling heads over heels in love with her, so did Lee.

The boy  was just quiet , sitting beside his mother who smoked nonstop. Lee smoked too. I and Diana didn't. "Quiet there, Lee?" I commented. Jean could be the most insensitive people in the whole world, especially when she had that cigarette stuck in her red lips.

"Nothin', Dad," he answered.

He knew it too. Even if there was something he'd like to tell me, he couldn't. It was against Jean's rule. Besides, he knew my ears were for more important things than my son's whimpering.

Then we learned what was the problem when we were eating dinner. The cook for the day was one of Jean's slaves and I made sure, no matter how good it tasted, not to look pleased with it. It received no praise from Diana either. That was my rule. I felt sorry for the cook.

Our dining room was huge. A 5 x 2 rectangular wooden table with exquisite design. I bought it, that was why Jean never looked at it twice. I sat on the far end while Jean on the other. Lee and Diana were opposite each other. While we ate, some maids were plainly standing on the side, waiting for our orders. Jean's maids. It was her day. Tomorrow will be mine.

Lee spilled the beans : he got his girlfriend pregnant. I almost leaped with joy. Finally, I regained one of my lost points. Jean on the other hand, who was in a state of mild shock, stopped eating, ordered for her two thousand cigarette holder and began smoking. I always admired her for being so cool at a time that most mothers freak out. She could handle herself pretty well, to my dismay. I wish I could act that way when something happens to my princess.