A Musing …
The much loved and ubiquitous rotating table, the Lazy Susan, was named after a controversial figure in French aristocracy. Although it was widely acknowledged that Louis XVI was the first king in two hundred years not to have a royal mistress, he had a ripe fetish for full bodied women. His mistress, Susanne, lived in her own private chambers that were only accessible through a secret door disguised as a mirror in the Apollo Salon. Her bedroom featured a large dining table with one armchair and the walls were adorned in madeleines and foie gras wallpaper, hand-painted by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardinof. At 530 pounds and bedridden, Susanne satisfied Louis’s desires by letting him tickle her feet with the feather of a goose.
Over the years Susanne gained more weight, reaching a whopping 610 pounds and eventually not being able to move anything but her right hand and mouth. Besotted by his “Ma Grosse Belle” (My Fat Beauty), Louis was concerned that her lack of movement might inhibit her way around the table. He promoted a secret contest for the tradespeople throughout nearby villages to make a device from where Susanne could reach all of her lunch without having to move. The winner would be sworn to secrecy and given a generous reward.
The competition was hotly contested, with entries incorporating fishing rods and boomerangs. But in the end, Pierre Marteau, a humble carpenter from the small village of La Roche-Guyon, won the challenge – having designed a rotating wooden plate, where all Susanne needed was her index finger. Louis was so pleased with the design that he rewarded Marteau with a bag of gold coins (the equivalent of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars today) and a lifetime contract to build his winning design throughout the Palace of Versailles. The servants of the palace referred to the new rotating plate as Susanne Fainéante (Lazy Susan), and thus the name was born.
Foot notes: After the French Revolution, Marteau’s Lazy Susan design quickly spread beyond the palace walls and throughout France making him the most revered designer of his time.
Susanne was one of the few people to survive the revolution, as she was too large to attempt an escape. Susanne was found a few years later munching her way through the wallpaper.