Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Gaspard and I have tremendously enjoyed you all getting to know us over the past eight months. I for one am glad that few--indeed, basically none--of you have written critical or communicative letters in reply, as we have had zero interest in becoming acquainted with any of you.
However, a recent fit of zealousness has persuaded me to change my mind. My confessor has, as part of a strict penance, advised me to spend more time helping others and less time thinking about my trivialities. Instead of helping out at the local soup kitchen where I often take my meals, tutoring a less-than-fortunate youth, or campaigning for donations of ascots to needy children, I have decided to help you - my loyal fans and devotees; and I have convinced Gaspard to help me.
Therefore, we invite you, steadfast readers, to write to us and ask us anything that may be troubling you. Having trouble charming the innocent maid you've loved since childhood? Wondering how properly to maintain three or four paramours in addition to the innocent maid you've just begun seeing? Or perhaps you just need a new cocktail that will provide an air of mystery and sophistication when you order it at your local lounge. Whatever the problem, you have gotten to know us and our style over these past few months and can expect us to respond with the same degree of mindfulness and forethought that is evident in our less than regular posts. As we are both without physical addresses for the time being, please send all correspondence to either Gaspard or myself at Arakesprogress@gmail.com.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Respectable, prudent men who rise early and trundle off to the drudgery of gainful employment are fond of cautionary maxims. A favorite of these dour types is Tacitus' dictum "Pessimum inimicorum genus, laudantes." The rake has no use for such a tired old cliché. In fact, sycophants, flatterers, and silver-tongued nebbishes are quite the best of his chums. They pamper his vanity, which is to him a thing of far greater value thing than true friendship. (Note: the rake verily detests true friendship because he does not have the emotional depth needed to foster the love, loyalty, respect and admiration that genuine camaraderie necessitates.)
Yet despite his lack of true friends, he has no dearth of enemies, rivals, and asperers. These come in all shapes and forms, and will all seek to do an honest cad no end of mischief. The obvious ones--jilted ex-lovers, the husbands of paramours, the long arm of the law--are at one time or another thorns in the side of even your commonplace man about town. The true rake has not only these types for foes, but many more than these. He must contend with dangers that the ordinary gentleman would never think to imagine. In truth, the list is infinite, as the rake eventually ends up alienating all those around him. Here a few of the rake's most steadfast enemies.
Exhibit A: the disgruntled tailor. Tailors, because of their professional commitment to style and elegance, are generally of a gracious demeanor. They often seem easy to bamboozle, but I warn you not to push it too far. Why, I once went so long without paying a diminutive Italian clothier that I narrowly avoided a scissors in my back while being measured for a waistcoat! My near brush with death was made worse by having to abandon fifteen suits that had been sewn but not paid for. Or better yet, how many of you are sworn blood enemies of the head waiters at both the best and worst restaurants in a dozen cities spanning three continents? These fastidious creatures tend not to smile upon sudden entrances and exits through side doors, nor are they pleased when one finishes an entire bottle of Chateau Margaux before informing the waiter that it was not the year that one had specified, although it took one the entire bottle to make sure. On a similar note, in this modern age it is considered gauche to order a fifteen-course meal and, when presented with the bill, to present a letter of introduction from one's great-uncle and expect the restaurant to extend a line of credit.
One must also be on the watch for abstemious step-sisters and temperate step-mothers. These particular types exercise the most control over one's main source of income: one's father. A few denunciatory words from one of these ladies about one's daily (and nightly) habits can send dear old dad into a furor. It is imperative that the rake keep as far out of sight from these gentlewomen as possible and lie wildly when faced with their company. "What was I doing last night? Why, I was volunteering* at the humane society!" (Read: I was searching for dogs that might prove more profitable in the pit than those last mutts I had my hands on.) Another word of advice on step mothers and sisters: though they will inevitably be drawn to your beautiful countenance and worldly charm, you must keep these women at arm's length, if Genesis 39 is to be any guide.
Your faithful editors have faced down scores of each of these types of enemies, and some more beastly foes that would turn most of you lily-white. And we have bested them all in one way or another, or at least accomplished daring escapes. But we have lately become apprised of the most repugnant rival yet encountered. We shall not deign to mention them by name, but let's just call them "The Be-fogged Lorgnon." These charlatans purport to catalog and describe the behaviour of "a gentleman."
Gaspard and I have always found this pretension ironic, as there is an article called "The Gentlemen Defecation Chronicles" on the Highest Rated, Most Commented, and Best Of lists. While I hope you need no further discouragement to keep clear of this charade, you should be prepared that toilet humor pervades the writing, and is often the highest reach of their comedy. To put it colloquially, it ain't Aristophanes.
As far as I can tell, the editors' only function is to dress up the disgusting misadventures of their mongrel audience with words every sixth-grader knows, much to the honking delight of the asinine flock. Though I will say that the editorial writing far outpaces that of the readers, which displays a complete disregard for syntax, prosody, and diction. The entire oeuvre is odious, to say the least.
To the editors: We lay at your feet the charge of perverting the unparalleled elegance of the modern urbanite, and giving true gentlemen scoundrels everywhere the wrong type of bad name. Men may call us deadbeats, dipsos, and deceivers, but let them keep us far removed from your so-called "gentlemen."
P.S. We are suspicious of the provenance of several of your article ideas, and we are investigating, in our own manner. If our doubts are proved true, then you should keep a close eye on your mothers and sisters.
P.P.S. I have an suggestion for a Be-Fogged Lorgnon article: A Gentleman Doesn't Let His Bowtie Sag An Inch-and-a-Half From His Collar
*As the word "volunteer" is not part of the rake's daily vocabulary, take pains to pronounce it correctly and try to keep a straight face when using it in a sentence.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Gaspard’s mishap reminds me of a similar story of my own. I had been having a very discreet dalliance with a woman—let’s call her Genevieve— who, though of family and possessed of all the social graces, had been known to be quite free with her affections. This did not particularly bother me. Romance between women like her and men like me is conducted, in most cases, like a business transaction—or at least I think so, from what I have heard of business. Anyway, I’m a terribly charming bastard, and by the by she decided, as rich and crazy women often do, that she was deeply in love with me. What was worse, she thought that I must be in love with her. She had even broken off all of her old sordid associations, and expected that I should honor this by doing the same. This, my dear fellows, is a very tight spot for a cad to find himself in. On the one hand, I could not bear to concentrate all my superabundance of loving energy on just one woman. It would be a waste on par with the burning of Alexandria, and what is more, it could endanger the doll herself (but more on that later). On the other hand, she was very liberal with the long green. I resolved that I would have to continue in my present course, but conduct my affairs with even more care and secrecy. It would be like walking a tightrope.
Unfortunately, I have never been any damn good at tightropes. One night about a week later, while at my local lounge, I became acquainted with a young redhead whose milky white skin was so alluring that I couldn’t resist. By the time we had finished acquainting ourselves somewhere in the wee hours, my back was criss-crossed by angry, ghastly, bleeding scratches. Ah, the wounds of love! The next day, my Genevieve telephoned me up and invited me to dine in with her that evening. I agreed, cleaned my injuries, put on a three-piece suit, and went out for my midday walk. On the promenade, I met Gaspard, who looked exhausted and tired, like he had just spent the night in his auto. We decided to stroll on past the bar for a minute or two. Of course, if you have ever read our other tales, you know what happened. We tied one on, and it left me in an expansive mood. Expansive and absent-minded. Upon entering Genevieve’s rooms, I gathered her up in my arms and kissed her with fire and gusto. In no time at all, my jacket and waistcoat had been discarded. Alarm bells should have been clanging in my head, but the fumes of the liquor had clouded my judgment. As soon as she took my shirt off, she let out a piercing scream, and I knew that I was done for. Women who have her experience, when betrayed, are more dangerous than jungle cats. She started hurling all types of accusations. My mind was racing. Should I tell her that she herself had caused these gashes, and had merely forgotten? Or perhaps that I had been lashed by a local constable for flippancy. In the end, I opted to tell her that they were merely the result of a hotly contested fencing match in which I had performed some less-than-stellar fleches. As I said before, I’m a charming bastard, and with many small blandishments, I won her over. Her faith in me renewed, we resumed what had been interrupted. But alas! She soon found a more intimate mark in a more intimate place, which I was unable to convince her was caused by an errant leech during a routine bloodletting. She slapped me hard several times and screamed at me to leave and never come back. I walked out of there shaken, but glad nothing worse had happened. You can never tell with her kind.
Well chaps, that’s all for now, but I’ll tell you another story or two at a later date.
As our loyal readers by now will know, the life of the rake is largely spent courting or attempting to court as many women as possible. The benefits of this lifestyle are obvious, yet the disadvantages of living so promiscuously are not always apparent to those who are unused to such behaviour. A few personal anecdotes should go a long way in helping you avoid any romantic imbrogli of your own.
Towards the end of Spring, a glut of affairs with the fairer sex sapped yours truly of his amorous energies...that trip to Eastern Europe really took a toll on my body. ( A side note: If one is planning on an extended stay in Riga, prepare accordingly by supplementing your regime with an abundance of proteins, but always remember to stick to a proper diet.) I decided that I should perhaps reduce the strain upon my libido by curtailing my exploits. Calm down ladies, Gaspard is still on the market; I am not well nigh to tying the proverbial knot. I merely thought I should limit myself to three, maybe four women. At 22, I'm not the young pup I once was and I can not just disport myself around town bestowing my favors upon every woman who asks for them -- I'm not running a damned charity for God's sake! So, I narrowed down the field a bit and although there are always girls on the periphery, I have been focusing my romanticismes on a lovely young peach for quite some time now. Although such an arrangement is not quite what I am used to, things are going swimmingly; that is, they were going swimmingly until last Wednesday night. After some serious carousing with Alisdair, I repaired to the apartment of my darling in the early morning hours, as she had been beckoning me to join her all night, not to mention Alisdair needed my bed. (He had been ejected from his hotel the night before for delinquency in his payment and some trouble stemming from an overindulgence in the mini-bar.) At any rate, I flopped into bed beside her and began to doze when she cooed into my ear "Gaspard...hold me closer, I've missed you tonight." I grabbed her and pulled her tight to me, whispering, "Viens ici, ma chere Anastasie..." She turned around and said, "What did you say?" I repeated what I had said in English to avoid confusion, "Come here my dear Anastasia," and pulling her close to me again, kissed her cheek. She immediately flew into a rage, kicked me out of bed, whipped my recently-shed clothes at me and told me in no uncertain terms to get the hell out! I timidly let myself out and slinked downstairs to sleep in my motorcar, as I was in no condition to drive home.
Dear readers, I know you must be asking yourselves, "What could old Gaspard have done to sweet Anastasia to deserve such cruel treatment?" I had actually done nothing to dear, beautiful Anastasia; but therein lies the problem. For you see, I had done nothing to Anastasia because she was sleeping peacefully throughout this whole sequence of events a mere 15 blocks away. I, unfortunately, was chez Isabelle!!
I cannot express the the shame, I, a seasoned cad, felt after committing this amateur error. It was not so much that I had offended Isabelle's sensibilities, for women are mercurial creatures and are prone to emotional explosion at the slightest provocation. I was unnerved because I should know better than to drop the old name switcheroo on a relatively recent conquest. Fortunately for me, I am not only easy on the eyes, but quite persuasive as well. The next morning I called upon Isabelle and poured upon her such honeyed words that even a Lotophagian would have been satisfied. Thank God for the dupability of womenfolk.
Monday, June 8, 2009
It is I, Gaspard! First of all, I would like to take the opportunity to correct Alisdair's choice of words. What happened between my former employer and I did not involve any "Shit-canning." Rather, it involved myself taking the initiative. Peeved after my free coffee privileges were revoked over an incident involving a Hazelnut blend and a pint of whiskey, I went on strike. However, it seems that my work at the company was not valued enough for my patron to make any concessions. Shocking, I know. In the end, we agreed to disagree and parted ways. I often reflect that the company was the unfortunate party in that situation.
Moving on, I wish to explain myself in regards to the letter that that Scotsman so rudely shared with you without my knowledge. I don't normally stoop to justifying my behaviour, but I think that you, my dear readers, could benefit from an explanation of that curious correspondence. To the average man, this declaration could seem slightly extravagant, nay, extremely so. Fools! I received sage advice on this subject from a close confederate, a Russian Prince Korasov. He counseled me, "Gaspard, there must be burning passion when you write. Reading a well written love letter is the ultimate pleasure for a prude; it's a moment when she can be off her guard. She's not acting a part, she can dare listen to her heart; so two letters a day." Indeed, that letter to my little flower was only the first of the day! After Alisdair took leave of me later that evening, I composed a second, even more frenzied than the first, in which I described my undying and fierce desire for this lovely young maiden in even more explicit terms.
Korasov's advice, when taken in kind with his other two points ( 1. See her every day, and 2. Pay court to a woman of her acquaintance, but without putting ANY outward signs of passion) is really quite miraculous. Without going into too much detail, my beloved's work schedule prevents me from seeing her daily; alas, I have never even met her. However, I worry not. She has been returning my letters with as much frequency as possible, and we are planning a trip away from the watchful eye of any chaperones . As far as point 2 is concerned, I have also begun to cultivate a relationship with a close friend and fellow starlet of hers. As development has been slow, I have no juicy news to report. Although a gentleman never kisses and tells, I am no gentleman, so rely on me to keep you informed of any future happenings. I must go; as it is my habit to have several possible dates at any given moment, I must literally write between 3 and 4 dozen letters per day. Although exhausting, it is a highly lucrative ( in the carnal sense of the word) endeavor.
Never under any circumstances telephone, e-mail, or use what is known as a "text". These automatically illustrate your lack of interest. Letters should be written on heavy paper and sealed with a wax stamp. As rakes, it may be difficult to obtain so much stationery, as it is quite expensive. Never fear, just steal it! One must convince these silly young things that time and money are being spent on them before any affair has even begun, thus vastly (and falsely) inflating their hopes for a successful relationship.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Our humblest and most sincere apologies for this four fortnight lacuna in The Rakish Life. According to MacDowell family tradition, the Feast of St. Fergus is always celebrated in the old country at my Great-Uncle Uchtred's castle in Garthland. Gaspard had been recently, to put it politely, shitcanned, so he came along with, as he is a member of the One True Church as well. In the midst of our religious fervor, we mistakenly challenged some old Seaforth Highlanders to a drinking contest. For several weeks thereafter, all was black. We came to at a ресторан in Minsk, surrounded by a collation of black bread and vodka. We arose from the table and demanded steamship passage to Italy, so that Gaspard could venerate St. Angelo--to whom he has a particular devotion--on his feast day. We were stymied when the locals, through primitive hand gestures and yelling, convinced us that Belarus was, indeed, totally landlocked. Never daunted, we headed north for the Baltic. We seem to recall taking extensive notes of our odyssey, but fate intervened. About seventy kilometers outside of Tallinn, we discovered that, in Estonia, a MacBook G4--the very one that included our journals--is worth a goddamn king's ransom of Vana Tallinn and the Pagan chieftain's twin daughters--being as it was St. Thethmar's Day, how could we refuse?* This sent us off into the abyss for another couple of days. But, finally, a fortuitous dice game allowed us to book cheap freight passage out of Helsinki. Païens ont tort et les Chrétiens ont droit!
And so, here I am again, safely ensconced in my local public house in New York and bringing you a special treat as compensation for our long absence. One day last week, Gaspard invited me over for a round of early afternoon cocktails. I arrived while he was still performing his toilet, and by chance I happened to espy a folded piece of heavy ply écru paper on my friend's writing desk. I read it, of course, and seeing its obvious pertinence to the rakish instruction that is the point of our journal, I committed it to memory. Here it is in its entirety:
My beloved xxxxxxxxxxx [name redacted],
Hither and thither I have gone, but I must warn you that I have been thinking of nothing but you for these past months. And what is more dangerous, I cannot yet expel you from my thoughts. Even merely hearing your name excites in me such heat that I am like a man on fire. Deciding whether boldly to confess my secret passion to you, or to soldier on in lonely agony, has been like a war of the worlds in my breast. Having seen so much of the world recently, I have decided that I can do nothing but, at the closest opportunity, give you all the ecstasy that you deserve. It will be no simple task to achieve this union--we will have to weave a charlotte's web of deceit to find ourselves alone. Even then, we may have only two or ten minutes while the iron is hot, but strike I will. Hardly did the walls of Cluny ever see such depravity--but I must be careful! With but a glance and a half-smile, you have awakened passion in me such as I have never felt. Though you are only newly made fifteen, the glances that have passed between us would put dumbfound both Catullus and Lesbia. I will teach you things that are barely even thought of in the realms of the unreal. I cannot now write any more, as I have a guest about to arrive. Keep these words in your heart. I will write you again at the coming of the new moon.
Je vous prie de croire, Madame, à mes sentiments les meilleurs,
* If in the near future any of you happen upon a ".ee" website containing risqué photos of your sisters, daughters, or several New York society "It" girls, please inform us, as we will have to take legal action. To get in on the profits.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
We are now nine days past the vernal equinox, and though the weather has for the most part insisted on remaining cold and dreary, I have already felt a few of the first breaths of spring spreading over the land. Ah, printemps!--the season of love, when Nature bursts forth from the frigid shackles of winter, and amorous desires stir in the hearts of young virgins. Spring is a time for enjoyment, but it also carries its dangers, and an honest rake, if he is not aware of the proper medical wisdom, may fall prey to a catalog of ailments.
When we say medical wisdom, we don't mean this cellular pathology nonsense espoused by that charlatan Rudolf Virchow, which has lately blinded the eyes of natural science to the wisdom of the ancients. Any good rake knows that, for the maintenance of the constitution, Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna should everywhere be preferred to Pasteur, Salk, and Fleming.
Hippocrates tell us that the diseases of spring are maniacal, melancholic, and epileptic disorders, bloody flux, quinsy, coryza, hoarseness, cough, leprosy, lichen alphos, exanthemata mostly ending in ulcerations, tubercles, and arthritic diseases. The rake, more than other men, should constantly be on the lookout for the onset of such maladies. He is fundamentally of the sanguine temperament, and as both air and blood ascend in springtime, as they do in our sanguine characters, the coming season may exacerbate our humoral imbalance. If the accumulation of blood be too thick, the rake should limit his diet to cold & dry foods, such as raw cereals, as they will balance out the proportion of black bile to blood. Be careful not to produce too much black bile, though, as it will throw you into a melancholic humour and may even precipitate the onset of dropsy. If he suffers a particularly bad episode of coryza, he remedy it with bloodletting or leeches. Be careful here as well, as losing too much blood will sap your amorous energies.
Learning all the proper theory is key, and so you should immediately begin compiling your medical library. Here are just a few of the essential texts:
Aphorisms by Hippocrates
De Sanitate Tuenda
De Usu Partium Corporis Humani
Quod Animi Mores Corporis Temperatura Sequantur
Keep in mind that these basic texts only represent the orthodox Hippocratic-Galenic school. When you have familiarized yourself with them, you should then endeavor to acquire complementary books by the Erasistrateans and the Asclepiadeans, as the competing viewpoints will broaden your medical mind.
(Above is the chart of the Hippocratic Humours and their corresponding seasons, elements, organs and qualities. Commit this chart to memory and reference it often.)
Monday, March 23, 2009
Ladies, Gentlemen, and Comrades all: I, Gaspard Lerâteau, have terrible news. I have become gainfully employed. I know what you must be thinking; the world must be in quite a poor state when an honest rake has to get a job to support his habits, but alas it is true. This city has grown quite expensive in recent years and despite the excellent deals that have resulted from the current economic turmoil, the largesse of friends, women, and family has waned. An example for you: today I received a post from my generous father informing me that he had paid several thousand dollars to the City of New York for past-due parking tickets acquired over the last several months (Can I be bothered to look at the street signs every time I park? I think not!). Despite all previous benevolence, he has considered this transgression the last straw and has suggested I would be wise to avoid any further "surprise" charges to his accounts if I know what is good for me. This sudden terminus of funds has forced me to find other sources of lucre to support my habits, and while a potential bank heist is not yet out of the running, I have decided to opt for something a bit more safe for the time being.
This recent development in my status as a member of the national workforce has forced me to come up with a cornucopia of excuses and lies about what I do and where I am all day long. Here are a few tips in case you find yourself in a similar scenario:
1. Regardless of your position, wear a suit. At my current post, I work alone in an office and it does not particularly matter what I wear, but it should go without saying that I wear a three-piece suit everyday. Aside from the fact that the rake should be wearing some sort of suit at all times, this mode of dress seems to truly impress the great unwashed. An anecdote: At a recent interview, I arrived in said suit, and my interviewer was wearing what, in the common parlance, is known as a "white tee" and dungarees. Within twenty minutes, he was fired and I had replaced him in his capacity as chief recruiter. As I knew nothing of the industry, I can only attribute this sequence of events to the suit I was wearing, and not the combination of my eloquence, striking good looks, and general demeanor, but I digress...
2. When asked what industry you are working in, always reply "Finance." The most common response you will receive will be something along the lines of, "Ooh, that must be a tough place to be right about now!" Instead of agreeing with this idiot, give a small chuckle and a wink and reply, "Not if you're doing what I'm doing..." Let him interpret that as he will and change the subject to the inevitably poor cut of his suit. This will cause him to quickly forget what he has just asked and put him on the defensive.
3. Despite the flow of hard cash into your coffers, always cry poor. People will of course object "Don't you have a job?" Reply in the following manner, "I do, but you see, I am just starting out in the industry and as yet I have not made much money as my salary is based on commissions." Assure them that in one year's time you will be more than able to compensate them for the round of drinks they are about to buy you. Come up with elaborate schemes about how you and he (or she) will spend your hard earned cash on escapades that would give even the Earl of Rochester pangs of jealousy. You will soon see the stars in their eyes. At this point, feel no remorse in ordering another martini as you have given them something that no amount of money can buy: hope for the future. Perhaps that Obama chap knew what he was doing after all.
4. Have a set of business cards made. This is simultaneously the least expensive and most effective way of pretending you are somewhat professional. While the card may advertise your abilities as a master - (insert profession) , it can also simply supply a salient piece of information. A Russian chum of mine has a card that simply reads
followed only by an e-mail address. Let us just say that his in-box is full.
Unfortunately, that is all I can think of for now but the days at work are long and dull and I have plenty of time for reflection. Perhaps I will soon supply you with more tips for surviving this tragic act known as "labour". However, do not hold your breath; these daydreams are rarely directed at providing information to you, and much more frequently directed at providing drinks for myself.
By this point, you are assuredly asking yourselves, "I wonder what Gaspard does for a living?" Well dear readers, without going into specifics, it involves me calling poor saps and selling them things that they have absolutely no use for. A tad immoral? Perhaps. Frankly, it involves spinning elaborate lies and that is one thing I have quite a knack for. As my grand-grand-grand-oncle François, duc de La Rouchefoulcauld used to say, "Some bad qualities make great talents." (Maxim 491, a favorite of his)
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The true rake should constantly be thinking about how awful other people's lives would be without him. The average man should constantly be marveling at how much more fulfilling the rake's life is than his own, while women should, at every moment of the day, be fantasizing about how much better their life would be with the rake instead of with their beau or husband. This vanity should not confine itself to one's daily routine. Rather, it should extend to every moment of the cycle of life and death. The life of the rake ensures that, unless he is endowed with superhuman genetics, his allotted span will be poor short--no more than one score and ten. Accordingly, he should take many of the idle hours of his day (and there are more than many) planning his own funeral.
Here are a few rules to follow:
1. If funds permit for an elaborate sarcophagus, the rake should never be cremated. This allows for an open casket wake and funeral. It maximizes viewing time of one's lovely young face. Yet do not forget to make arrangements for a closed casket if your demise is of a grisly nature. It would be devastating (for you, of course) if your closest lover's final glimpse of you made her question your comeliness.
2. When selecting a dirge to be played during the funeral rite, choose the saddest song available. Here are a few off the top of my head that are sure to have everyone in the church sobbing hysterically.
- Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht
- Siegfried's Funeral March from Göterdämmerung
- Chopin's Piano Sonata No.2, 3rd movement
- Tchaikovsky's Meditation de Souvenir d'un lieu cher
-Ravel's Le Gibet from Gaspard de la Nuit
These are, of course, just a few sad songs on a very long list. You need not limit your choice to artists who are deceased themselves. There are plenty of contemporary musicians who can pen a sad tune with the best of them. Here is a particularly sad piece that will have everyone who has ever spent a night with you devastated for months.
I Go To Sleep
3. There has been a tendency in recent years to treat funerals as "Celebrations of Life." This is absolute nonsense. After you die, no one should be celebrating anything for years. Leave specific instructions that the word "Celebrate" and any of its derivatives may only be mentioned in the eulogy , as in, "Gaspard could celebrate harder than almost anyone I have ever met."
For what greater peak of vanity is there than to premeditate the extremity of sorrow that others will be feeling on the day of your premature death? Put simply, you want them to realize that they hadn't lived until you died. If you can swing it, they should also feel that they cannot live after you have died.
This applies particularly to every woman whom you have wooed throughout your short but brilliant career. You cannot simply begin to make her feel remorse on the day of your mortuary rites; you must begin doing so almost from the moment you meet her. It is imperative that you make it abundantly clear that she will, barring any fatal accidents or contagions, outlive you. Moreover, you must ensure that on the day of your internment, she truly believes that she and no other was the cause of your early demise--though of course the real cause was your inveterate hedonism. Given that there will be many such women, the goal is to ruin as many emotional lives as possible. A particularly effective method of doing this is to intentionally script your last will and testament so that, at its somber reading, every single one of your dozens of lovers will believe that it is she and no other that has driven you to the grave. This will of course require that you word it in the vaguest and yet most poignant terms possible. For example, when bequeathing a personal object such as a hair comb or bathroom vanity, write, "I leave this to you, my most beloved, for whom I spent so many hours bettering my appearance." Such a comment will not only confuse many a lass present at the reading of your will, but will also remind them how much they miss your beautiful youthful face.
Although the rake is fundamentally allergic to work, he should devote as much effort as possible to this one project, as it will be his last and most vain. There is a fantastic website called My Wonderful Life that allows all funeral planning to be done ahead of time. It has a simple format and allows one to set all the parameters for a successful funeral. If his drinking and wooing is so demanding that he cannot spare even an hour for such an activity, he should delegate this duty to his most trusted domestic. If you are in such financial straits that you have no domestics, then you should gaff the project off to your favorite nebbish (but more on that later).
Monday, February 16, 2009
It is in the rake's nature to be constantly on the move; exploring new cities, regions and countries. In doing so, he alleviates his constant boredom by continually finding refreshing scenery, female companionship and new and interesting varieties of food, tobacco and spirits. In the course of my rakish wanderings, I have had the privilege to meet many fine young bounders who share my worldview and passion for consumption. One such gentleman I met on a cold winter's night on the streets of Vienna. He was staggering about in evening clothes, simultaneously blessing and cursing the gods for inventing the female form. In my rudimentary knowledge of die deutsche Sprache, I asked him his name and his occupation. He merely laughed, saying something about how die Arbeit was for the common. As for his name, he replied "Félix Bandolier, at your service." We returned to my hotel and spoke at great length about the problems facing our fragile youthful frames over several bottles of the finest champagne available. At some point I dozed off, and when I awoke, he was gone. An exhaustive search of the city's taverns, publikhausen, and rathskelleren over the next several days yielded no results. According to the barmaids and street walkers of the fair city, no one by the name of Félix Bandolier has ever walked the cobbled lanes of Vienna, and judging by what I know of him, these women would know. Upset at losing contact with one who shared my thoughts on as many subjects as bottles of liquor he could drink without falling over, (I assure you it was several) I hoped that one day I would hear from him again.
Ladies and gentleman, that day has arrived. Just tonight, I noticed a letter sitting on my kitchen table, postmarked with several stamps of indeterminable origin. I will transcribe to you here exactly what was written, with no omissions.
Hope all is well. I am sorry for my abrupt and unexplained departure at our first, and last, meeting. I was being pursued by creditors and needed to flee the country.
In my weekly internet perusings I noticed your site and would be pleased if I could share my knowledge with your readers. Here are some recent thoughts inspired by a brief stint in Rome.
It is no passing maxim that church breeds the most adept rake, as dualism is the prevailing force on the human spirit. As the curious schoolboy becomes the seasoned cad, notions of guilt and deliverance may come into play during the melancholic haze of a Sunday morning. Ideas of failure, evil, and sadism could very well dominate a mind that had thought itself free of ethical bondage only a few hours before.
The best medicine for such issues would be a midday Satanic ritual or sigil casting to expel any grievances lingering. While sex magick could work here, and it all truly depends on the psychological construct of our given man, the best angle to play is one of cleansing and penance. A simple black magick ritual should be enough to reprogram your mind for yet another night confronting the retina of chaos.
Lastly, when one is experiencing the tremors of the soul, a clean suit may solve most of the problems right off the bat, particularly if a poignant tie clip is utilized.
I will send more when time permits.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Considering the habits and behaviour of the rake, it is inevitable that one will eventually cross paths with some branch of law enforcement. For Alisdair and me, that time was last night on the feast of St. Valentine. We had just re-entered the borough of Manhattan after a misinformed foray into Brooklyn and were briskly striding towards a late-night club of ill repute. We were singing some old German drinking songs we had picked up on our last trip to München and swigging quite freely from a bottle of Canadian whiskey when we were blocked by an undercover squadcar and accosted by the local constabulary.
I was asked to provide identification and questioned about any possible outstanding warrants for my arrest. Fortunately, most of my debts had been settled at the New York City courthouse before the new year, and after receiving a summons to appear before a judge in two weeks, we were on our way.
Although this encounter was relatively insignificant, it reminded me of a few points of advice that I would like to share with you.
First, in the event that an arresting officer is female, it is wise to refrain from mentioning to your partners in crime that she looks "passably attractive" while she is exiting her car. It is still wiser to refrain from asking when women were allowed onto the police force. Although this line of questioning may seem to you like a polite and interested way of getting to know someone, these members of the force seem to take offense at such queries. Keep the conversation to a minimum. A simple "yes, officer" or "no, officer" should suffice to such questions as, "Are you wearing a German Hussar's Busby?" or "Did you really think it was a good idea to be shouting so loudly at 3:30 in the morning in a residential neighborhood?" and "Aren't you cold wearing only trousers, suspenders and a side cap?" (The correct answers, of course, being yes, yes and no.)
Second, when drinking in public, it is a good idea to be discreet when trying to avoid arrest. Instead of carrying a 2 liter bottle of whiskey, try a simple hip flask instead. Although you will only be able to carry around at most only a few ounces of the sweet nectar, it should be enough to hold you over on the walk from pub to club. A flask is essential to the rakes arsenal of gadgets. I myself use a half glass, half brass model with my family's name engraved on the leather case. It is a bit bulky, but can carry almost a full pint of a liquor of my choosing. Alisdair on the other hand opts for a smaller, rectangular Sterling model that is shaped discreetly like a cigarette case. An English chum of ours called Sigmund who was with us at the time of said encounter uses a steel tube that is capable of holding not only 5 ounces of liquor (always Mezcal or Navy Rum in his case) but a fairly sizable cigar as well.
Third, if receiving a summons for an "Open Container" as the ticket so ineloquently stated, one is allowed to finish the contents of his beverage. In our case, we were lucky enough to have half the bottle left after the bobbies went on their way. In accordance with a brilliant Double Jeopardy law, I could not be charged twice for holding the same bottle, so as long as I held it and poured it into the awaiting gullets of my 2 fellow cads, we were committing no error in the eyes of Johnny Law. If you happen to receive such a ticket, don't become discouraged and leave your drink on the street - instead walk proudly down the parkway holding it high, knowing that you are completely immune from any prosecution, as you have already been charged with the crime!
It may be said that the rake's life is a string of deftly managed concealments. One such secret is the cad's relationship to Change. We are speaking of course about coined money, and not the variety of change touted by this young Obama upstart. Quite simply, given that the rake is nearly always short on money, he must never let even a nickel slip through his fingers. However he must exert all his efforts never to be seen handling or known to have handled any such denomination of money, lest he sully his hard earned reputation for magnanimity and utter disregard for saving or any sort of planning beyond his next bar tab.
In order to maintain this delicate balance, he will be forced to develop a sleight of hand usually reserved for Houdini and his ilk. When exiting a restaurant, with one arm around his companion of the night, whispering sweet nothings into her ear and telling her fantastic lies about how he will treat on their next outing, he should be able to swipe any number of coins off of empty tables silently and casually. Do not worry about the waitress with whose tip you have just absconded. Remember, other peoples' needs are insignificant in comparison with your wants. Similarly, when a rake finds himself refeuling his motorcar at a petrol stand or popping into a corner bodega for a pack of cigarettes (more on that here), he should always take a penny, and should never leave one.
Keep a weather eye out for these pieces of eight, so to speak: any gold coin picturing Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, Jackson, van Buren, or William Henry Harrison. (We here at The Rakish Life are ourselves eagerly awaiting the May 21 issuance of a striking John Tyler piece) Also look for Susan B. Anthonys, Gobrechts, Seated Libertys, Trade dollars, Morgans, Eisenhowers, Liberty Heads, Indian Heads, Sacagaweas, or any coin with a redskin on it, for that matter. Most especially do not confuse them for quarter dollars. One need not be a numismatist, but inattention to detail in this matter may cause you to lose seventy-five cents or more. Others' carelessness, however, can be used to your distinct advantage. In a pinch, you can pull the old switcheroo and substitute a toonie for a Tyler. Canadian pennies are, at a glance, virtually indistinguishable from American ones. Euro nickels also resemble the penny, although if current exchange rates persist, just save it for the next time you visit grand-oncle Frédéric on the Continent.
There may be many situations in which the rake is forced to confront the necessary evil of coinage, but he should always remember the cardinal rule: never, under any circumstances be discovered to have any dealings with dimes. If his pocket is ever once heard a-jingle, his reputation will be marred irrevocably. If someone you know ever observes you using petty change, you should immediately locate the nearest vagrant and give all of it to him, very publicly. If no tramp can be found, claim that you either need the coins to call a sick aunt, play a game of billiards, or purchase a prophylactic device in the bathroom of the local public house. (Note: These particular fibs perpetuate the myths that one is a devoted family member, a good sportsman, and a practitioner of safe sex, despite the fact that a true rake is none of these things.)
One more thing, gentlemen. Cell phones be damned--the CoinStar is the greatest technological advance of the past several decades, at least as far as the rake is concerned. For a small fee, this wonderful device allows one to exchange all of those terrible pieces of tin for bills. Look up the location nearest you, and memorize it. You will thank us later.
Friday, January 16, 2009
If you consider yourself a rake, you must use tobacco in one of its many forms. A rake must cultivate a Devil-may-care attitude towards life itself and tobacco, along with alcohol, are the two most visible methods of doing so. Although there are several ways to consume this glorious leaf, today's article will focus on cigarettes.
It is a natural fact of science that a man in evening clothes smoking a cigarette is infinitely more mysterious and exciting than one simply holding his hands in any number of awkward configurations.
Given the rake's typically precarious financial situation, he may constantly be needing to borrow cigarettes. "Lights" should be avoided as often as possible, and menthols at all costs, even if it means going without. If you have ever even considered smoking a clove cigarette, we ask that you leave this site post haste.
When flush, the rake should take it upon himself to spend as freely on tobacco as on alcohol because quite frankly, he needs it. One should always choose the richest blend available, including--but not limited to--Camel Wides, Camel Turkish Royals, Dunhill Internationals, Chesterfields, Commanders, and Player's Navy Cut.
Having a pack on you often gives you the power to bestow a butt on a maiden in need. (On the other hand, depending on the situation, it may be advantageous to pretend you are packless in order to borrow a cigarette from the pretty lass down the bar). For the same reason, a lighter or another incendiary device should always be carried, or pretended to have been forgotten.
Unless you are over the age of fifty, a cigarette holder should not be employed. On a man of insufficient age and rakish credentials, this gives the impression that you are light in the loafers, and while the rake may be a dandy, he is no fop.
If you are ever once publicly caught coughing after taking a drag of even the harshest blend, it will immediately brand you as a fraud. Therefore, it is the author's recommendation that you smoke constantly, as a form of practice.
Inhales should be smooth and deep, while exhales should ooze sensuality. You may wish to add variations: Gaspard, for instance, is a proponent of the French inhale, in which smoke is slowly exhaled from the mouth, while simultaneously being re-inhaled through the nostrils. Note that a purely nasal exhale is frowned upon in most circumstances.
You may blow smoke rings, but only if they are so perfectly round as to give no cause for complaint from either Euclid or Pythagoras.
So, fellow cads, to use the working man's lexicon, smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Though the rake is fundamentally a gutless creature, he may decide to stand on minute points of honor when it suits his purposes. For instance, last night at the local lounge Gaspard and I frequent, a young rake of our very own acquaintance was wooing an alluring little number at the end of the bar. While whispering sweet nothings into her ear and twirling one of her ringlets about his index finger, her husband entered through the side door, noticed this scoundrel advancing on his wife and began pushing angrily through the throng to put an end to the rake's progress. The young cad, wishing to avoid any physical confrontation (as any rake would) quickly asked the bartendress what type of gin she was pouring into his martini at that very moment. She replied, "Fleischmann's - the house gin." Wasting no time, the young man spit out what he was drinking, shattered his glass on the floor and stormed towards the back exit, loudly declaring,"I don't drink gin distilled by Canadians!" Thus, he deftly avoided conflict with the cuckolded husband and conveniently also avoided conflict with the hefty bar tab he had been running up all evening.
Gaspard and I shared a knowing glance and rolled our eyes, both knowing full well he'd drink gin distilled by anyone.
He will not be able to return to that establishment for several months, if ever. But a man cannot consider himself a proper rake if he is not persona non grata at at least two bars in any given town.
It goes without saying that to successfully rake ones way through society, it is important to be (or at least appear to be) cultured. When hobnobbing with the monied, it should be remembered that while a rake may be poor in wealth, he should always be rich in knowledge. In conversation, you must be able to draw them so far into your web of charm and wit that when it comes time for a tab to be covered or an account to be settled, they will dip into their own pockets instead of expecting you to dip into yours.
One of the best topics to discuss in these situations is music. How many times have I successfully expostulated on Rodolfo's Che Gelida Manina aria from Puccini's La boheme thereby capturing the affections of a prominent society matron? Well, too many times to remember at this point.
One must have a more than cursory knowledge of the operas by the French, the Germans and of course the Italians. Knowledge of classical music should be more discriminating. Pick one of the more obscure Romantic composers, memorize his entire catalogue and be prepared to dismiss all his contemporaries as mere poseurs. It can be very useful in delicately and charmingly offending the sensibilities of young women who are only versed in the three B's.
The rake is by nature a creature of the city where so often "swing" dancing has replaced the waltz, quadrille and mazurka as the step of the day. It is therefore necessary to have encyclopædic knowledge of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller so that one may very publicly call for a tune at the next society event.
Knowledge of musical instruments is unnecessary, but it is worthwhile to invest a few hours into learning a minor work for the piano that can be played only in front of an intimate circle of acquaintances. Alisdair, for instance, is a master of tickling out "Slow Boat to China" while staring into the eyes of another man's wife. The effect is often hypnotizing.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Ideally, the gentleman-scoundrel should be chauffeured about town in an automobile of scandalous luxury. Unfortunately, in these trying economic times, such a conveyance may not be available and the rake may need to chauffeur himself. In this case, here are a few guidelines that should be followed.
1. The rake should only be seen driving a Rolls-Royce, Triumph, MG, Jaguar, or any of the established continental luxury sedans or coupés. If he lacks the funds to acquire any of the aforementioned automobiles, all driving should be done in disguise, or not at all.
2. If the rake is reduced to such a state that he is required to take public transit and he is recognized by any acquaintance (not that any ideal acquaintance of the rake would be taking public transport either), he should feign an interest in studying the sociology of working peoples; it may also be appropriate to make vague allusions to leftist or revolutionary sentiments.
3. Living the lifestyle that he does, it will of course be necessary for the rake to drive while intoxicated. However, he should make every effort to learn to drive drunk with the ease and grace that befits a man of his position and habits. This will take practice. A strong caveat here, though: only drive drunk when you are sure you will not be caught. If apprehended, you may face fines or costly legal battles that can severely limit your enjoyment of the pleasures to which you have rightly become accustomed.
4. Any car that you drive must be equipped with ashtrays (more on that later).
Gaspard and I have just received an invitation from two comely young sisters with whom I have a reasonable acquaintance--our mothers went to finishing school together--to attend an illicit late night soirée, the location of which we will certainly not reveal to you. No sense increasing the competition, is there, eh? Gaspard has gotten over his bout of melancholy. In fact, we are both in quite high spirits, considering we've finished all the spirits available at our present lodgings.
Before we dash, I want to address a question that was posed to me this evening by a whip-smart divorcée of considerable means: "What would a handsome young guy like you want with an older woman like me?"
The obvious answer to this question is threefold: money, social respectability, and an eagerness to please in the boudoir. However, the rake must always preserve extreme discretion. How can one lie without it? Therefore, the correct rakish response to such a question is, "[Insert name here], what you should be asking is, 'Why should a goddess such as yourself be dilly-dallying with a pup like me?'" This will both flatter her vanity and distract her feeble mind from the reality of her own advanced age. N.B.: If you have already forgotten her name, or never learned it, you may substitute "Darling" or "Beautiful."
That's all for now. The twins are getting impatient.
Alisdair and I have just returned from a long evening (which began early this afternoon) in the American capital. Despite having visited more than a dozen bars and more than one society event, I find myself decidedly sober, and what is worse, without female companionship. The inability to get drunk after several dozen drinks is the unfortunate and unique scourge of the rake. This is why he spends so much of his time either trying to get drunk or trying to procure funds which he will use to get drunk. My lack of inebriation is made all the more painful that I, Gaspard Sébastien Lerâteau, have fallen in love. The raven haired siren that captured my affections earlier this eve possesed the ample wit and charm that a rake cannot help but find appealing. However, I was unable to secure her company for the early morning hours and my heart now trembles with the thought that I must somehow replace her, as I never even learned her name. At this point, music is the only art form that can express the turmoil of my inner soul. For further information, please refer to Chopin's Nocturne No. 13 in C minor.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Recently, in a quest to supplement our repertoire of libations, Alisdair and I decided to hold a mixology trial in order to find a cocktail worthy of the name "The Rake's Delight." While it is true that any cocktail is in fact a rake's delight, we wanted something that spoke specifically to our tastes and reflected the elegant pretention of the discerning dipso.
Here are the combinations we've tried so far:
-Gin et Lillet Blanc et Chambord: The sweetness of the Chambord totally overpowered the sweetness of the Lillet. Decidedly a drink for louche persons and ninnies.
-Gin et Lillet et Campari: We both love Campari dearly. This tasted like Campari slightly watered down, and therefore does not meet our standards, but will do in a pinch. Avoid if possible.
-Gin et Lillet et Pernod: This tasted like watered-down Pernod, which nobody should ever drink (unless there's nothing else around).
-Gin et Cream Sherry et Dry Vermouth: Do not drink this.
-Gin et Campari et Kirschwasser: Should only be drunk from a shell (would improve the flavor).
-Gin et Lillet Blanc et Kirschwasser- Tasted like watered-down gin in the proportions we poured it, and watered-down gin is a sin at The Rakish Life.
-Gin et Chambord et Pernod: Tasted like a distillation of Rue la Saint-Denis.
-Gin et Chambord et Campari: Utterly boring, and therefore not worthy of the title of Rake's Delight.
-Gin et Chartreuse et Kirschwasser : What were we thinking?
We should note that although we did not genuinely like any of the mixtures listed above, we drank every single damn drop of the lot.
The night is but a newborn, and we have many bottles and many permutations left to try. It will be a trying road, but we will arrive on the (far) other side of tomorrow with the Rake's Delight, the cocktail most agreeable to the rakish constitution.
Unfortunately, for some a strict diet is impossible to adhere to. In this case, it may be necessary to raise the heart rate in order to keep the silhouette that a rake requires. Ideally, a rake would only require two forms of strenuous physical activity in order to maintain a trim figure: long brisk walks or a more private form of exercise that requires the participation of the fairer sex. Sports involving copious amounts of running or rowing are simply too vigorous to participate in. In the event that walking and making the beast with two backs are not enough to reduce the unwanted weight that one may acquire in the course of his rakish dealings, some other sort of calisthenics may be needed. In this case, it is imperative that absolutely no one witness this undignified activity. Although gymnasia are temples of vanity, a man vain enough to call himself a rake would never want it to be known - by anyone - that he is doing any work to maintain his trim physique.
There are exceptions to this rule. One may participate in the more social forms of exercise such as fencing, fisticuffs, or any sport involving a racquet. Such activities generally put one in contact with persons from whom money can be borrowed or favors extracted. Also, in the moments before backing out of a fight, it may be helpful to inform your opponent that you are a trained boxer. If it comes to blows, you will not be completely defenseless despite your complete lack of muscle. Yet keep in mind that the rake is not in the business of breaking jaws. He is in the business of breaking hearts.