Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week

February 14, 1997

It is a certainty undisputed that the brain cells of the rabble are not as retentive as those of their betters. For those of us fortunate few, whose bloodlines have been purified in the refiner's fire of careful breeding, our brains are as sponge. We absorb. We soak in our experiences, and retain them. Once impressed with a fact, it is engraved forever in our memories. The first King of this great land of England? Why, King Arthur, of course, followed by his son, Ethelred the Mertz. The first President of the United States? Why, George Wellington, after whom the famous beef dish was named. The winner of the Wars of the Roses? Why, one believes a dash of DDT took care of the matter.

One's readers (and has one mentioned, lately, that their were one to arm each with a bayonet, a smile, and copy of the hardback book Sir Charles Grandiose Singlehandedly Saves The Small Section Of Humanity That Richly Deserves It, the Army of Etiquette could conquer many of the third world countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, and perhaps even challenge the world's greatest superpower, England itself?) may discern that one, as usual, has a point. Oh yes. One always has a point.

Picture: I See London, I See FranceA fortnight ago, in one's weekly exercise of judicious good taste and sobriety, one made a modest proposal for a new means by which one's less forward readers might make known their disapproval for the boorish public actions of others. Each of us has a 'pet peeve.' And instead of lunging with mayhem in mind at those who allow their children to cry during the movie, or who eat the peppermints during the orchestral concert, how civilized it would be to present the malfeasant with a small business card, with a gently chiding message upon it, in order to improve their manners! Why, if one thinks of it as a spontaneous and anonymous deed of kindness, one can feel positively saintly after a busy day of correction.

After the few sample Manners Cards one proposed, in that momentous column, one's silver platter was flooded, simply deluged, with letters from helpful readers who wished to offer Manners Cards of their own. One wishes to separate the truly good suggestions from those that lack . . . well. How can one say it kindly? One would never approve, Sidney from Shepherd's Bush, of a Manners Card that read, "Oi there, lift up your skirt for us a titch more." Really, sirrah. Once during a visit to your quaint quarter of the city one distinctly heard the sound of maracas. At the time, one attributed it to a street musician. But perhaps you had bent to tie a shoelace, and your empty head was rattling on the trip back up?

Lovely and witty Laura suggested a card to give annoying, inconsiderate riders on the Tube (and is she not the soul of generosity? For as she comments, "Naturally, neither I nor any of your legions of readers would be caught dead on the subway, but we must remember those less fortunate than ourselves"), particularly the person who, stepping out of the subway onto the platform, stops dead in her tracks to consult a map or rummage in her purse:

You may feel that you are entitled to stand stock still in any place you choose, however, there are hordes of people bottled up behind you who would like nothing more than to disembark from this smelly, filthy mover of humanity. Kindly move out of the flow of traffic.

Chaz Fan suggested, for those of us particularly annoyed by nose-pickers:

Your nose is not the Colossal Cavern. Your finger is not a spelunker. I do not watch "Exploring for Stalactites" at home, so why do you think I wish to observe it in the wild?

In a similar vein, we have a suggestion from Melinda, who apparently is bothered by those who expel noxious gases in close quarters:

If I had wished to hear the world's largest pipe organ, I would have attended church this week.

A certain Secretary, apparently, is annoyed by those in the 'fast food' lines who, as she puts it, 'stand in line at the only register during the lunch rush, and when they finally get to the front, then and only then stare at the menu as if they've never seen it before':

Combo Number Three. Say it, pay it, and move it. This swill all tastes the same anyway.

Then we have Jason at U.VA who seems to be annoyed by the one classmate in every class who feels the need to play suck-up with the tutor (Jason, one sympathizes deeply):

When the professor, in the final minutes of the class, asks if there are any questions before he or she lets us go, it's RHETORICAL.

Beautifully put, Laura! Very clever, Chaz Fan! Quite clever, Melinda! And praise to Secretary and Jason as well! In your own little ways, you have fortified the Dam Of Propriety from the Eroding Waters Of Impropriety!

And then, of course, we have a suggestion from one of our readers for a 'multi-purpose' card: Methinks thou art a. . . . No, one cannot bring oneself to type it. The closest synonym of which one can think is 'coprophagist'. It is not quite the same, but it will suffice. And while one cannot quite approve the idea, at the same time, one cannot censure it. After all, who among us has not had the impulse? But though direct and to the point, it lacks a certain something. Dissemblance. Condescension. After all, what is the point of having good manners if you cannot employ them in a manner that will establish once and for all that you are the superior of all you survey?

King of his own hill, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: I See London, I See France

Confused writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I never herd of you, but my brothers freind, who knows alot about computers, said you had an opinion on everything. Anyway, heres my problem.

Im a senior at Benedict Arnold High here in Evanston, Illinois. Maybe you heard of my school we won State in Division 6A football three years in a row! Go, Patriots! Trouble is, I got this essay due in Honors World History in a couple of days, and I dont know what to do. Coach asigned the question, which had a greater affect on World History, the American Revolution, or the French Revolution?

I always figured the American Revolution was the most important event in history, except maybe the time the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl back in '85. Anyway, in the American revolution, the greatest country in history was formed, and besides, we kicked those dumbass comunist red coats from Russia or wherever all the way up to Canada, and they never messed with us again! But on the other hand, in France, the Queen gave the peasants cake, but I guess that wasn't enough, so they took that guiloteen and chopped her head off. The Kings head, too. That must have been pretty important, dont you think, even though it hapened in France?

So what should I say in my essay? Im running straight A's here, am quarterback on the football team (one time, when we played Wilmette High, I scored three touchdowns in a single game), and got a good shot at getting into a good college football program, so I don't want to blow this essay by saying something stupid. Please tel me what to say!

Confused in Evanston, Illinois

Sir Charles replies:


Gracious, no! We wouldn't want the correspondent ever to say anything that might possibly be misconstrued as stupid After all, if the correspondent never got his football scholarship to a state college, how would the college town's judicial system survive, without all those fines for your eventual drunken operation of a motor vehicle and the bribes to keep quiet about a certain rendezvous with the sheriff's underaged daughter? Heaven forfend!

You are lucky, dear boy, to have Sir Charles Grandiose on your side. It's obvious that 'Coach' is attempting to weed out the grain from the chaff. Which will you be, lad? That's right! Grain! (It's the stuff from which bread is made. You know, the brown thing that keeps your 'Big Mac' together.)

'Coach' is obviously looking for the one student in his class--you, lad!--who can see through his transparent stratagems. His question about the American and French revolutions? Patently a ploy! For you and I both know, lad, that the greatest historical revolution was that of Humankind against the Aliens.

Yes! Do you not remember the day, my boy, when the giant alien spaceships, each miles long, hovered over New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.? Oh, the apprehension. Oh, the fear. And remember, lad, how a fighter pilot, a scientist, and the American President teamed together in the desert to kick some alien 'booty,' triumphing in the end? What a fateful Independence Day that was.

Obviously your coach is hoping that your dull-witted classmates will write dreary essays about the American Revolution. Tea parties, Waterloo, and all that. But you--you, lad!--will rise above it and write your essay the way it was meant to be written.

Destiny is in your hands, my young friend. Wilt thou rise and seize it?

Cackling to himself, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Robert writes:

Dear Sir,

One is sorely puzzled by references last week to the Honourable Penelope Windsor-Smythe as eightieth in line for the Throne. Doubting one's recollection, one consulted the "Cast of Characters" of this site and there confirmed one's recollection of references to "ninetieth in line etc...".

One has perused the more reputable journals and has found no mention of the sudden demise nor abduction of ten members of the peerage. How then this abrupt, though no doubt well-deserved advancement?

Robert of Westmoreland

Sir Charles replies:


One thought. One recollected. One puzzled over the matter. Could one have accidentally been thinking back to the time of the infamous Fish Fingers Affair, when young Penelope Windsor-Smythe was indeed eightieth, then seventy-eighth, in line for the throne? Could one have erred?

As the idea was ridiculous in the extreme, one summoned one's secretary. One could tell by the lickspittle's hangdog appearance, an impression made only more vivid by the chocolate toffee still in his cheek, that he was guilty. When called to account for his error, he stared at one and said: "Braynph Art?"

One has not quite figured out the meaning of that phrase, but the idiot boy says many things beyond one's ken. One supposes it is a truism, that one gets what one pays for.

Disgusted, as is usual when the subject of one's secretary arises, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: An Overexcited Sensibility

Distressed writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I have a rather disturbing oral fixation. What should I do to eliminate this potentially socially damaging condition?


Sir Charles replies:

Dear Distressed:

Turn off Hour of Power, or whatever that dreadful display of charismatic sensibilities is called.

Why Mrs. Roberts gave her son such a vulgar name is beyond one.

Pithy as ever, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week