September 11, 2000
A devastatingly poetic poem by Sir Charles Grandiose, Bart.,
composed as the day went along its
weary course, to lend versimiliootysomething.
And readest thou this poetic screed
That's better far than than Byron, Mister
(It's rumored, you know, that he slept with his sister).
In time and adamant, my title's set:
"The Lonely Life of a Baronet."
For Duty on my shoulder weighs.
Servants, family, readers, all
On one's services do call.
Determined to have what they can get
From the selfless life of a Baronet.
And make sure that one's jowls are shorn,
And bring one whiskey in a glass
So that the pain of the day will pass.
A secret nip, or she will fret--
That icy wife of the Baronet.
To observe a servant: Pretty Rose.
To make sure that her dusting's not
Amiss, and pinch her should she miss a spot.
A girlish shriek. A tipple. A slap
Enlivens the day of the Baronap.
And remembers that charity is always first.
One thus extends a helping hand
To the underparlourmaid. Oof! An unplanned
Swift kick comes nigh to ruin the set
Of familial jewels of the Baronet.
For suffering is my noble fate.
Whimsey? Oft I have a bit
When dressing in a French Maid's kit.
But endurance is my high-born lot:
The sad, sad life of a Baronot.
The decanter is drained, and one does shway
From shide to shide, with noble gait.
The shun, it shets. It'sh getting late.
No more whishkey? Bloody poop.
It'sh hell, the exshishtensh of a Baronoop.
The Vicar of Whitefield writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
I had commissioned a portrait of my husband, the contract for which specified that the painter would hang said portrait at a designated place in the east drawing room. I left for the continent before the work was actually completed, and when I returned I was quite aghast to find the portrait had been hung in the wrong wall--and crookedly at that!
The portrait company refuses to answer my calls. What must I do to insure my husband is well hung?
Unsatisfied in Upper Marlboro
Sir Charles replies:
My dear lady,
What a sad, precautionary tale for us all. One has a story of similar woe. At the time one became engaged to the Lady Felicia, one commissioned a similar portrait of oneself for her future bedchambers, so that one's future wife could go to bed every night knowing to whom to be grateful for plucking her from obscurity and instantly giving her family tree a quick spray of fertilizer.
The wedding took place. One escorted the Lady Felicia to her new home. But imagine her shock and dismay, and her shriek of utter disgust, upon entering her bedchamber to find that her new husband was extremely poorly hung.
But, my unsatisfied correspondent, there is really only so much the framer's can do for you. You might attempt some 'home remedies,' as it were. Give it a few sharp tugs downward, or failing that, hang some heavy weights from it to stretch it in the direction you want.
If all else fails, you might try putting the portrait in a different location, to see if it looks better there. And in the spot previously occupied by the portrait, have a nice picture of a horse hung.
Certainly glad to get in one's opinions on interior decorating,
Dear Lady Felicia,
I am sure that your mailbox is crammed to the brim with social invitations, and that your phone constantly rings from those who must hear your dulcet tones or die. I find however, that amongst my social set I am usually the one doing the organizing and ringing around to catch up and keep the friendship going. The message from my friends seems to be "We don't have to bother making any effort, because we take it for granted that you will".
My fortieth birthday is coming up (I am demanding a recount)and I really wonder whether I can be bothered:
1) Reminding them that my birthday is coming up (they forget)
2) Enduring the diary recitals where I am read their social calendar in detail, before they deign to nominate a date to see me.
3) Trying to maintain some of the friendships at all.
I am assured by my wife (a redhead, and therefore a harsh and critical judge) that I am quite nice, have a pleasant personality, and a good sense of humour. She says that when she talks to my friends they hold me in high regard and affection. What then can I do about my circle who seem to have a complete inability to pick up a d*mn (sorry) phone once in a while and make an effort? How do you become a ring-ee as opposed to a ring-er.
I can imagine that my plight is so foreign to your own experience that you may have to ask one of your staff, perhaps one of your quiet and shy minions, what it is like not to be on the A-list, but somewhere towards Z, but if you could help me out, I would be extremely grateful.
The Lady Felicia replies:
Dear Hanging on the Telephone,
How I miss the days of gracious civility when one would pay morning calls, chatting gaily for fifteen minutes - no more, no less - if your acquaintance was "at home" or leaving one's card with the butler if they were out - confident that your call would be repaid within the week. One feels sure that if your so-called friends behaved in those days as they do in these modern times, they would be shown out of the back door of Society faster than Caroline May broke her engagement to James Gordon-Bennett, Jr. when he used his future in-laws' fireplace as a . . . well . . . quickly and without remorse, in any case.
Follow my advice, my dear, and I promise you: your social schedule this autumn will be a whirl of amusements. Your social duty is clear. You must cut them. You must cut them all, thoroughly and publicly if possible. Now you do know how to cut someone properly, yes? Here is an example:
You are strolling down the street and one of these cretins approaches you, Palm Pilot in hand, calling out "Hangster, dude, we must get together one of these days!" Of course, you must not see them, and here you have two options:
1) You must immediately cross the street to greet a dear, dear friend whom you have just spotted (and surprisingly, complete strangers will often be quite accommodating about being hugged by you, particularly if you are wearing expensive parfum from Paris); or
2) You must look right through the offending "friend" and pass by. The trick to this more difficult "cut direct" is in focusing your eyes on some far distant point while looking in the direction of your former "friend's" forehead. You will need a steely will to successfully accomplish the cut direct without flinching - it is unnerving for even the most accomplished socialite and a strong cup of tea afterwards is usually required.
After a series of such encounters, you will probably begin to receive phone calls from these people. Whether you are available to speak on the phone is up to you. Whether you are willing to confess the cut is also up to you, but I assure you that you will find your friends' panicked scrambling most amusing. Probably they will invite you out somewhere. You might be "too busy." You might have to consult your Social Calendar. These are the pleasant choices that you will have to ponder.
Are you having fun yet?
Serenely, one remains,
Dear Lady Felicia,
I have a big problem and a question in line with it. I wear my hair up often in a ponytail, and when I want to wear it down there is a big crease across the back of my head, from where I had it pulled back. I can not never seem to get rid of it. How do I get rid of it quickly? I do appreciate your help.
The Lady Felicia replies:
If you are old enough, by all means wear your hair up. A neat chignon, a Gibson tuck, a French twist are all acceptable styles.
But a lady ought never to wear her hair in a "ponytail." Are you a horse, dear? I hope not!
Serenely, one remains,