Life Imitating Art: My Real Life Amélie Experience

Okay, have you seen the movie “Amélie” – or, if you’re *that person* that nobody wants to see movies with because you’re obnoxious and don’t like to watch films other people have heard of, “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” ? It’s one of my favorites, has held up well over the years (in my possibly-but-maybe-not humble Aries opinion), and is just really fun.

My endorsement isn’t the point of this post, though. Without going into spoilers, there’s a side story involving a mystery man. The main characters weave all sorts of magical speculations about who, or what, this man might be. I ended up having one in my life until recently.

Backing it up a bit: within my housing complex, there is a person with vanity plates. It was something that hinted at some Asian heritage due to the letter combination. Think along the lines of “FUFUFU” although that isn’t it (close, though).

FUFUFU became something a legend in my household. We saw their car in their designated space, and sometimes at street level, but we never saw the driver. Who was this FUFUFU, in their little lowered Honda with the tiny red car alarm light slowly blinking to assure that the car was protected? What did they do for a living? They were clearly not nine-to-fivers, as their car could be spotted any time of day, Monday through Friday and on weekends. The car also lacked additional identifying details, like a license plate holder announcing an alma mater or a series of stick figure families -although “my” FUFUFU would never. She might have a motley crew of bitten stick figures in the process of running away from a T-Rex, but never something as commonplace as a Mom, Dad, soccer player, and ballerina (no offense to those who fit that particular combination).

Did I write “she”? I did! It’s not because I had actually glimpsed FUFUFU. That was just the image she started to take in all of our minds. FUFUFU was a woman, of indeterminate age and, like me, background – ubiquitous brown, as I like to call it. She could be the perfect international spy, who used just a bit of contouring, perhaps a wig, and her amazing ability to shift into any character a job called for. She probably was a spy, hence why her car was always around on a particular schedule. She probably managed to convert the walls of her apartment into secret panels that hid her various weaponry.

As the year wore on, we began to speak of FUFUFU with a kind of deference. There is a prime public space at street level that is just big enough for one car, and nearest to all of the complex’s amenities. Sometimes I would park here. Sometimes I would roll up to see that FUFUFU had occupied it – which was okay, because FUFUFU must have just gotten back from saving the world.

Sometimes, the car that squatted in the space was neither of ours, resulting in a protest of, “Who do they think they are! That space belongs to me and FUFUFU!”

Unlike in “Amélie ,” however, my mystery had a less satisfying conclusion.

It was just a standard weekday later afternoon. I had just rolled into my space when I looked up and saw the white Honda and the ever cheerful yet fearlessly bold FUFUFU. The driver’s side door began to open.

“Look!” I hissed, almost digging my fingernails into my roommate’s arm.

“It’s FUFUFU!” we exclaimed in unison.

We sat, staring as if my car’s windows had a tint that wouldn’t make us look like wide-eyed, slack-jawed locals. In my head, I heard the melody from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” – the TV edit – when Phoebe Cates is exiting the pool. Time slowed. The door widened…

…and the most basic, nondescript dude climbed out without even a shred of elegance.

“So that’s FUFUFU,” my roommate said, completely unmoved by this turn of events.

“It can’t be!” Denial is a potent drug.

“But it is,” Roommate said, nodding in the other car’s direction. “You can see him.”

“No,” I said firmly. “I refuse. My FUFUFU is much cooler.”

“‘Your’ FUFUFU,” my roommate laughed. “Listen to you.”

“It’s a mistake…or a decoy. Yeah. FUFUFU can’t let her real identity be discovered.”

“Okaaaay.” Another laugh.

I have since half-accepted that this could very well be FUFUFU, but would like it better if he was just borrowing the car of his girlfriend, who is, in truth, a fabulous international spy…


  1. Karen says:

    Amélie is such a good film!! I can only imagine the disappointment in realising your FUFUFU was a regular guy BUT maybe he’s an undercover agent trying to keep a low profile. Who knows??‍♀️
    Great post x

    Karen |

    1. Ligaya says:

      I’m going to continue to believe that he is the real FUFUFU’s cover husband, kind of like Spence from the first “Resident Evil” movie (but hopefully not a greedy, betraying jerk) 🙂

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