Monday, July 19, 2010

The Miracle of Life

In G.'s most recent disquisition on fatherhood, much is made of how a young and mostly innocent boy may, either through calculation or mere inattention, find himself becoming a class-A rotter later in life. This brought back the memory of how I myself first strayed from the straight and narrow path out onto the wider, more comfortable roadways of the world. Suffice it to say that Gaspard's cautionary advice about employing young, attractive maids around sons is very prudent, if you wish to keep the boys in line.

My father was a widower; as some of you know, my dear mother died in childbirth. Though he was much given to the thrifty, industrious spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment, and was furthermore a dour skinflint like most of my countrymen, my mother's absence made the hiring of maids a necessary evil. For this purpose, he employed several Highlander women of various ages, who took care of all the housework. One of these was a rosy-cheeked, white-stockinged girl called Ailis. You may well imagine the type: milky skin glowing with a healthy blush, whistling a gay tune as she gathered together bouquets of begonias, dahlias and willowherb, which she picked in the countryside on her days off. Due to my constant proximity to her native sweetness, I soon developed quite an affection for this Ailis. When I was nine and she some fifteen, I began to importune her for private favors--although I scarcely knew of what I was speaking at the time. Admiring my fevered affection for her, and not unreasonably taking note of my striking conformation for such a young lad, she obliged. There are no words for the magnitude of this revelation for me--it has dictated all my actions ever since. And do you know what happened after that, my friends? I will tell you: Ailis became pregnant, and was dismissed from service immediately.

This was the only prudent thing to do. Then as now, I was not interested in the ballyhooed pleasures of home and family, and in truth (perhaps this will not surprise some of you) I am no more fit for paternal responsibility now than when my age numbered in the single digits. I was not to be like the Hindoo princeling who, married at three or four, sires his first child at seven and has an extensive brood by the time his voice breaks. No, I dodged the millstone of fatherhood as true rakes always do, and have done it dozens of times since. For those of you who feel heart palpitations or vomit uncontrollably at the mere sound of the phrase "I'm late," here is a brief set of rules concerning what to do when she starts to swell, no matter who she is:

1. If She Works For You, Or For Your Father or Grand-Uncle

This one is easy (see above). Fire her immediately. Offer to give her some extra severance pay if you must, but it is better if the break is clean. Note: as the rake almost never has a job, and rarely has enough money to get sufficiently drunk every day--much less hire domestics--it will be much more likely that she works for a friend or relative of yours. So much the better, as it is he who will be named in any civil action.

2. If Conception Occurs During a Chance Meeting, or One-Time Liaison

Another simple fix: you should never, ever be pursuing this type of rendezvous under any name or persona by which you can be legally identified. In choosing an alias, it helps if your fake profession might conceivably involve unexpected travel and/or untimely death. Somewhere in Switzerland, a once-comely ski instructor sips her schnapps in melancholy, and speaks proudly to her son or daughter of the courage and gallantry of her one-time lover: Fergus MacLeish, Capt., Scots Guards, who was called back to his regiment in the middle of the night, only to die in a firefight in the Second Falklands War.

3. If You Think She Is Faking, Or Is Having A Hysterical Pregnancy

Call her bluff. This bold play will most likely come from the rake's female equivalent, a woman of ample experience and loose morals. These are the ones, generally speaking, who will get a glimpse of your true libertinage. They will stand it for a while, but eventually they will seek to possess you solely, and will try any means to do it (see here). How to counter the gambit of the spurious seedling? Act as if you are overjoyed. Kiss her empty stomach, and ask her when you can move in to her rooms. Expecting reticence, she will be so put off and confused by your apparent pleasure (secretly, she had hoped you'd put up a fight) that she will usually drop the act right there, although it may take a few weeks further if she is stubborn.

4. If You Impregnate Your Fiancée, Who Is From a Wealthy and Respectable Family

Keep it. If you need further explanation--which you shouldn't--see here. There may be some huffiness from her parents, especially, but rather than provoke a scandal, they will have you at the altar double quick. Pre-nuptial agreements should be dealt with according to Gaspard's advice in the above-mentioned article. To diffuse any ill feeling, make sure that the baby will be named after your new father- or grandfather-in-law.

5. If You Impregnate a Fiancée or Long-Term Companion, Who Is From a Prudish and Penurious Family

This little bugger will do you no good in the long run. Fortunately for you, prigs such as these are dealt with quite easily. You needn't do anything special; merely stop covering up what you normally do. Drink heavily at family functions and then punctuate your rambling, esoteric discourse with wild jabs from your cigarette, knocking ash into Papa's morning coffee. Make indecent proposals to all female relatives, especially sisters. Even a brief glimpse at the chaotic hedonism that characterizes the Rakish Life will utterly deter the family from courting you further. Make the expectant mother realize what kind of father you would be, and she will gladly accept no father at all.

Gaspard and I have faced down or skillfully evaded many more imputations of paternity than are described here. But in the interest of brevity, I will rest my pen. If, however, you have a pregnancy-related dilemma not covered by the above, please write us, by post, email, or any of the other channels that this our modern age provides. And NB: it is not to men only that we may tender advice. Ladies, if you need help forcing a reluctant father to stick around, we know every trick in the book, and can help you beat them all!

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