Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

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.

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