Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Hospes nullus tam in amici hospitium devorti potest, quin ubi triduum continuum fuerit jam odiosus siet.
Unfortunately, for the typical rake, entertaining at home is usually out of the question, as his home is almost guaranteed to be small and slovenly, and is even likely to be structurally unsound. Why, just the other day, for reasons that will not be discussed here, Alisdair was forced to move from his garret apartment in a Harlem tenement to even meaner habitations. He now occupies apartment 1 1/2 of a tumbledown hovel in an economically depressed area of Staten Island. You may well wonder why his apartment is so unusually numbered--a walk-through or a sublet, perhaps? No, the truth is much darker: my friend has been reduced to living in a cupboard underneath the building's staircase, adjacent to the rubbish bins. Alas, though, I can't say that I'm faring much better: my current lodgings are accessible only between the hours of 7 AM and 7 PM, which, coincidentally, are also the operating hours of the Manhattan Mini Storage facility on New York's West Side Highway. So, you see, dinner parties are but a quixotic dream for us rakes. It is not very charming to open the door for a comely female guest when your door is made of bright orange corrugated steel.
As our loyal readers will now know, restaurants can be full of peril for a rake. Imagine the embarrassment of hosting a party of young bon vivants at the city's regnant dining hall, only to have them loudly informed of your habitual scurrilous check-dodging by the head waiter or maitre d'hôtel. Besides, it is wise never to be seen eating in public, for reasons discussed here. Rather, then, you will be required to convene your salon in a more private setting.
Therein lies the problem - if your quarters are as squalid as A's or as cramped as mine, you will not be quick to extend any invitations. So what to do? Simply use the home of another! A few guidelines:
In summer months, during the weekdays, it is possible and even easy to live luxuriously in the vacation homes and cottages of your employed friends. Simply head out to the house in question and locate the key under the mat or in the outdoor shower. As these chum(p)s are stuck in the office all week, they will be none the wiser.
When these friends head out to the Island for the week end, simply head back into town and use their apartments for anything from a quick shower to an elaborate fête! Here, it is essential to be on intimate terms with a good locksmith, or at the very least a few common burglars.
Next, in one of the most sinister and cunning techniques of which I have ever made mention, you should give as many framed photographs of yourself posing with friend X as gifts, for most mundane of reasons*. Not only will friends X be flattered and impressed by your generosity and kindness, but when your dinner guests see photographs of you all around the apartment, they will not think anything amiss.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should keep your social spheres separate. Invite your richest friends to the most humble and shabby apartments - they find it "charming" and "cozy." Invite your poorest friends to the the most expansive and opulent of your temporary residences - they are equally as charmed.
One last note: while Alisdair and I make it a daily habit of taking long, brooding walks, we are not, in general, outdoors types. Nor do we compost our own waste or indulge in dendrophiliac perversions like a lot of young wastrels shuffling about all over the place. But there is one philosophical tenet that we share with the granola-eaters, to which we adhere dogmatically: Leave No Trace. You would do well to do the same with regard to any homes you happen to borrow, or risk seeing a lot of B&E warrants signed by a lot of former friends. Special care should be taken with liquors: For every ounce of clear liquor (vodka and gin) taken, replace with a solution of 3:1 water/rubbing alcohol mix. For rums, the same solution with a teaspoon of sugar (ad a drop of red food coloring for dark rum) will do. For whiskeys - well, if there is any whiskey left in the place when you're done, then you have no right calling yourself a rake. Have you ever heard of the Whiskey bandit of San Francisco? He is I!
The insightful among you will have already guessed at some of the material benefits of inviting guests into your home. Opening your sanctum sanctorum--or at least what appears to be yours--will signal (falsely, of course) that you trust them, and that you are yourself worthy of their trust. The intimacy of private bread-breaking will put them at ease, and will only add to the warm and tender, if one-sided, bond you are forming. All this will make it much easier when you touch your guests for a short-term loan, as inevitably you will.
*"My friend, I heard your sister finally got married. Congratulations! Have this picture of the two of us."
Posted by Gaspard Lerâteau at 11:20 AM