"Stop it. You're aggravating me. It's completely idotic to be constantly repeating ayatollah," said the exhausted-looking mother to her children in the latest installment of Claire Bretesher's trendy intellectual comic strip.
It was a sure sign that the fashion-conscious French are getting bored with the Moslem religious leader who has been their uninvited guest since Oct. 6.
Bretesher's cartoon characters are not the only ones expressing disenchantment. Top French officials complain that when they make the pilgrimage to the far Paris suburb of Pontchartrain to question Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on serious political subjects, they get "religious answers."
They are also saying they have concluded that he would establish a narrow-minded, authoritarian regime.
"The French follow many lines at once," chuckled an East European diplomat who was considering the growing evidence that the French government has concluded that Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar may have the agility to survive after all.
Until just a few days ago, high-level Frenchmen had been freely comparing the ayatollah's propensity to say no to the intransigence of Charles de Gaulle against the wartime German occupation of France. Bakhtiar, said an adviser of President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, would "pop like a champagne cork" as soon as Khomeini gave the word.
Now, French diplomats are saying, Bakhtiar is demonstrating "legitimate determination" and Khomeini's return to Iran under current circumstances would represent "an adventure" that Iran might best be spared.
One reason for France's cooling off on Khomeini might be the realization that if Bakhtiar wins in the end, his government would be in a position to punish the French for having seemed to choose the wrong side.
Bakhtiar gave a graphic example of what this could mean yesterday by announcing his intent to cancel the $3 billion deal for France to build and fuel two nuclear power stations in Iran.
Although West Germany may fare no better in the long run, Bakhtiar said work could continue on two atomic power plants the Germans have been building in the country
It is growing increasingly difficult for the French to insist on their neutrality among the factions in Iran while the ayatollah fulminates daily from French soil against the Iranian Monarchy.
Khomeini's entourage has increased the potential embarrassment for France by insisting on chartering the jumbo jet they need to take the ayatollah home from Air France, the French national airline. The French government expressed a preference that the ayatollah choose some other airline to fly home, according to Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, who negotiated the contract for the charter plane that has been blocked for days by Bakhtiar's decision to close Iran's airports.
A question was asked the other day of one of the Frenchmen who would be in on decision on what to do if Khomeine flew off to Iran and were forced to turn around and come back.
"We wish he would show more generosity with his benedictions and proffer some of them elsewhere," he joked.
The ayatollah's entourage is understood to have made contingency pland to do just that elsewhere in Western Europe, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Left Bank boutiques that tried to cash in on the ayatollah rage seem to be stuck with the stocks of hair-concealing Persian women's headpiecees they hurriedly brought in.
And the mother in Claire Bretesher's cartoon is hugging a hot water bottle to her belly and saying to her husband, "It hurts in my ayatollah."