Friday, January 16, 2009

Tobacciana pt. 1

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).


Dearest readers,

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.


Aliquando Bonus Dormitat Homerus

Hello friends,

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.

- Gaspard

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Rake's Delight

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 Chartreuse et Campari: Competing giants of taste do not mingle well together on the tastebuds. Place it low on your list, if you know what's good for you.
-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.


One thing all aspiring rakes must recognize is that the true rakehell produces absolutely nothing, except the elegance of his own being. So, if he does not produce, he must consume.

The rake's rule in consumption is summed up in three words: more, more, and more. Except when it comes to food, where the rule is less, less, less. You simply cannot be a rake unless you look like one, that is, as tall and thin as one can be. Therefore, it is imperative that an aspiring scoundrel's diet should be in pursuit of that shape which he wishes to acquire.

Let us follow a gustatory day in the life of a proper bounder: he never rises before noon on any day, so breakfast is simply never eaten. This is fortuitous--it eliminates fully one third of all the meals normal people eat. After sitting in bed smoking for at least half an hour after waking, he should take a small meal of citrus fruit (prevents scurvy), undressed roughage (improves digestion), soup, and several crusts of bread. Sandwiches are of course for the working man, which the rake decidedly is not. If he is particularly peckish, he may nibble on a handful of pistachios, which may also provide essential proteins. Two pints of beer, one of the more caloric of intoxicating drinks, should supplement this meal. A dram or two of scotch may also be substituted. A multivitamin may help combat the vitamin deficiencies that one will inevitably face.

If you are living the rakish life well, you will be hungover during this first meal. But do not succumb to the temptation of overindulgence in any foodstuff. After all, we are rakes, and must rise above our baser instincts.

In the afternoon, one's stomach may begin to growl. Instead of turning to food for comfort, substitute alcohol, tobacco or women if possible. Women serve not only to satisfy the libido but to take the mind off of food in all its forms.

Moving on to dinner, it is important to be seen in the company of an attractive woman as many times as possible each week. The purpose of this is twofold. Not only does the presence of this woman increase your social standing, but there is always the chance that she can be convinced to pay for dinner ( but more on that later.) As far as food goes, eat the most well-balanced meal offered. If given the choice, always substitute greens for potatoes. In terms of meat, fish is preferable to chicken, while beef and pork are interchangeable as a distant third. If one's metabolism permits, you may occasionally opt for boar, venison, or other types of game. Not only is it delicious, but it may allow you to make vague allusions to some familial country estate that may or may not exist. Remember, always save room for as much liquor as possible, as the rake must always allow for the possibility that he will be challenged to a drinking contest later that evening - a challenge that he cannot turn down.

In summation, if you can only remember three rules, remember these:

1. When it comes to food, less is more, as in the less food you eat, the more attractive you will be.
2. If faced with the choice to consume more booze or more food, always sacrifice food for booze--after all, a rake's need to stay thin is second only to his need to stay drunk.
3. If it ever comes to the point that your tailor has to let out the waist on a pair of pants, cease all food consumption until things return to normal.
(As a rake, your BMI should fall somewhere within the white area)

The Definition of a Rake

rake, n.7

Brit. /reIk/, U.S. /reIk/ Forms: 16- rake, 17 rack (Sc.). [Short for RAKEHELL n.]

1. A fashionable or stylish man of dissolute or promiscuous habits.