Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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31 May, 1996

One is fond of ritual. One awakens in the morning to the same tray, to the same reassuring sight of towels steaming beside the basin. Later, one dresses in the tweeds that are the uniform of the country gentry, secure in one's unchanging position. One lunches and sups upon the hearty foods of the countryside. One slumbers in the bed one was born in. Oh yes, one is fond of ritual.

One's readers (and one has it upon authority that this august assemblage is so numerous that were all the sky a parchment, and all the sea made of ink, the names--while no doubt short and common, one and all--would not fit if written in the tiniest of scripts) will thus be most surprised that one employs this portion of our weekly exercise in Dignity and Good Manners for a different purpose. As the readers know, normally one here writes of the Family Grandiose, and our tasteful examples of propriety throughout the week. But one last week allowed a grievous error to slip by--through no fault of one's own, of course--and one thus commits this space to rectifying it.

One of one's readers took the time to pen the following letter:

Sir Charles,

It is with great distress and choler that I write to you in response to your publication of May the twenty-fourth.

On every Friday afternoon it is my pleasure and honor to host the Avonlea Ladies Tea Society in my spacious Queen Anne home. As of late, much conversation has been gathered from your promulgations and words of wisdom. We owe all this to my youngest son, Phinias, who spends many a constructive hour in his chamber with the door sealed "serfing the net". At first I was aghast that Young Phinias would find pleasure in demeaning himself to serfdom! However, I was much assured when he confessed he was merely engaging in anatomy research. But I digress! It is Young Phinias who brought forth your ruminations which have since become our Ladies Tea Society's own Seven Pillars.

Picture: The Offense in QuestionNow, dear Sir Charles, I must relate the cause of our spleen. The appointed hour of Tea was well under way when my fellows began to request "Sir Charles" in earnest. My! What a row they began, tapping their tea spoons against the saucers! Young Phinias, consumed with fits and giggles, soon brought forth your column, consumed with fits and giggles. Shock! Shock, I say, was registered by all when reading down the newsprint, for we gazed upon the woodcut of the hound. . . .

His John Tom is clearly in view.

I was convinced it was an ink smudge, but Mrs Van der Schlong, widowed these ten years and a raiser of champion Great Danes (the poor woman has a severe case of lumbago that causes her to stoop), assured us all that it was a hound's "thingie".

A row nearly broke out debating the high ideals of art versus indecency. Mrs Tallywacker wanted to start a Crusade and enlist the aid of the Temperance Society and League of Decency to ban your golden musings! She pointed out she would succeed, as she had learned much concerning organizing since she lead the movement to have 'Michelangelo's David' reduced to 'mortars and pistols'.

"I say, dear Mrs Tallywacker, isn't that the same hat you wore last June when attending the Great War Remembrance?" I so carelessly said. My, how my tongue loosens up with impunity when I have a good Earl Grey in me. Sadly, Mrs. T said she had to see a man about a horse and left our party.

Good Sir Charles! Those of us that remained, your staunch supporters one and all, must know! Was the image you published tampered with by those so called "computer crackers"? We can not imagine a man of your standing allowing such a vulgar scene as a hound's doghood to be displayed.

Eagerly awaiting your reply and vigilantly searching for like pictures (to protest, of course),

Lucretia Hitchcock, Mrs.

Naturally, one can only respond that one accepts full responsibility for this egregious display of canine excitement on behalf of one's secretary. Oh, how simple it should be, to record the pearls that drop from one's patrician lips (for one speaks very clearly and distinctly), and to select wholesome illustrations befitting the subject matter at hand. Obvious, the lad is not doing his job. One fears that he was dropped upon his cranium one too many times, as a child.

One has threatened the pizzle-brained chap with his dismissal notice should he fail this one simple assignment: To cover the offending sight with some innocuous, yet not distracting, object, and to reproduce the new illustration in the space below.

Picture: One Trusts It Is Much Better!

One trusts that he will not fail his master yet again.

Satisfied that one has done his duty to Dame Decency, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Popish, But A Godly Man

Cleavage writes:

Most Refined Sir,

Although the content of my letter might better be addressed to one of your female pens, I am curious for the advice and opinion of an honest and objective man--which I believe you to be.

My problem centers around a gown which I have recently purchased and was intending to wear to the annual Fireman's Ball. Usually I do not attend such events, for some would say they are below my social graces, but recently, I have taken a certain shine to one who you might term a plebe . . . a common working man. As such, I must accept certain, shall we say, degradation of character and status. The Fireman's Ball is one such necessary turpitude.

As I would normally do when attending a 'social event,' I went out and purchased a new garment which would embellish my delicate good looks. To my dismay, though, 'Lucius' as we will call him to protect his feelings should he chance upon this letter (though the silly doesn't know the internet from fishnet) was offended that the gown was not revealing enough.

Putting aside my rage for a moment, for I am certainly not a trollop, I realized that, for the sake of our relationship, I must try to understand 'his side' of the issue. 'His side' as he claims, is that he quite enjoys flaunting my 'bahzoooms' (his word, not mine) in front of his cohorts and their flat chested companions. Am I wrong to be offended? I cannot be objective, as love causes one's senses to leave one, so I write to you for a gentlemanly opinion.

Cleavage in Cleveland

Sir Charles replies:

Oh, mademoiselle. . . .

One thanks the correspondent most heartily, yes most heartily indeed, for entrusting one with this most delicate and subtle question. And for entrusting one with the two photographs of the bos. . . . ah, that is, the gowns in question.

One has examined the photographs with an objective eye, an eye that never lingers where it Ought Not, an eye that would never regard the purity of the female form with anything but an aesthete's disinterested regard for a statuesque stance, a well-turned ankle, for a well-draped fabric against a heaving, trembling bosom . . . my dear, has anyone else told you that your mole--the one a scant finger's-breadth above your left mound of supple womanhood--is enchanting, absolutely breath-takingly enchanting?

Ahem. At any rate, one has examined the gowns in question and decided that 'Lucius' well deserves a pistol-whipping for the mere suggestion that the correspondent flaunt her attributes in so brazen and extreme a fashion before such a rough assembly! Why, to even insinuate that the correspondent should allow that fiery red silk to cling to her every curve in so blatantly sensual a fashion, or allow those sweet, sweet globes of pure maidenhood to breathe so freely of the evening air . . . no doubt perfuming the room in return with their heady aroma, redolent of powders and that delicate, flowery scent of flesh against crisp linen. . . . Ah, the demmed lucky blackguard.

Rather shaken, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Bride to Be writes:

Dear dear Lady Felicia,

As a young girl, my mama had always warned me of the value of my Virtue, and impressed upon me that my Virtue would be the gift of highest value that I could give my husband upon our wedding night. She said it was a precious thing and that I would come into it when I reached my womanhood. Naturally I believed my mama, for she knows what is best for me.

Unfortunately, she died several years ago and never told me where she'd packed away my Virtue. Now that I've come into my womanhood and am getting married next month I'm getting a little worried. I can't find it anywhere! Will my husband be disappointed if I don't have one? Can I buy a spare?

Bride to Be

P.S. I'm eight months pregnant. Do they come in extra large sizes?

The Lady Felicia replies:

My dear misguided girl:

As a young lady, one was counseled most smartly by one's own mater. Not on the value of Virtue (which remains intact among all Ladies of Character), but on sundry matters, from the necessity of crisply pressed white gloves, to the rampant dangers of eating tuna. To this very day, one praises her dearly departed name. (Of course, one refers to one's true mother, not one's step-mother, Augusta Windover-Midden, whom we believe to be upon a cow farm in Sussex.)

As to your own loss, one offers a tried and true saying: One cannot lose what one never truly had.

Serenely, one remains,
Lady Felicia Grandiose

Picture: Disgusting Table Manners, And They Do So Smell

Desperate writes:

Dear Lady Felicia:

Of late I had the misfortune to entertain two European officers to dinner. I am appalled to report that their table manners were not up to British standards. As a courtesy, when they were taking their leave, I extended a wish they would join me again, fully expecting them to leave on maneuvers the next day.

Now I am given to understand they are still in the city and that they wish to attend my charity dinner for the Bishop of Highbury. Whatever shall I do?

Desperate in Devonshire

The Lady Felicia replies:

My Dear Lady,

Is it too late to turn the charity dinner into a charity cocktail hour? One has found, when thrust into similarly sticky situations, that those guests displaying the lowliest of table manners at mealtime can also be counted on to dip early and heavily into proffered drinks, becoming quite docile and drowsy, and easily 'entertained' in a back room until the real guests have come and gone.

One suggests you invite the slovenly pair an hour earlier than the remainder of the guests, and have your sommelier acquire a 'Mickey Finn' (the very decoction which one's own sommelier uses to great advantage within one's own household) with which to fortify the gentlemen's drinks.

One also encourages one's gentle reader to inventory the bibelot collection in any room this pair enters, as sorry table manners are a sure symptom of kleptomania. One found this pertinent fact out the hard way with one's prized mittens of Queen Charlotte (didn't one, Edna Thistle, Mrs.)?

Serenely wishing one's correspondent well, one remains,
Lady Felicia Grandiose

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