April 24, 2000
As a public figure whose own behaviour is a paragon of virtue and good breeding, one is used to the barbs and arrows flung by others. Oh, try as various 'nutcase' members of society might to make scurrilous accusations against oneself and one's family, they will never affect the family Grandiose. We are, one and all, above reproach.
Which is why one laughed heartily at a missive brought one by the butler, early this week. One reproduces it below.
Mr. Nunn, one scorns your suggestion that one's nephew and heir, Chauncey Grandiose, is anything less than a man's man. One will herewith dispute any assertions to the contrary.
As a lad, Chauncey was always a manly little boy, interested only in manly things. His fascination with the men of the Fishampton soccer league, for example, saw no parallel. He constantly watched their practice sessions with an avidity that surprised us all. Why, the lad had to be peeled from the benches, in the summers when those brawny youth would train with their uniform shirts removed. When the team made him their official mascot, the lad was so overwhelmed with joy that he crocheted jerseys for each and every one of them.
At Eton, Chauncey formed close and dear attachments to any number of boys his age who later went on in life to prominence in their manly chosen professions. Why, two of them became professional ice skaters, another is a costume designer for the theatre, and no less than three have become leaders of the Boy Scouts. I ask you, is that the sort of job that a poofter would take?
Even now, in his high-pressure manly job as editor of Milady's Boudoir, Chauncey shows none of the unfortunate tendencies to which Mr. Nunn alludes. No man could be more interested in women, particularly in what they wear, than Chauncey Grandiose! He is a veritable fount of information about bugle beads and their uses. Do you have a question on foundation garments, their trimmings, and their uses? Chauncey Grandiose is your man.
One could go on and on with proof of the manliness of one's nephew. He is constantly at the gym, refining and toning his body. His chums are a rough and tough titled set who are always ready for an ale down at the Calico Pussycat Club. He always has an eye for a pretty woman, including his affianced, the ravishing Miss Anita Manceau-Baddeley. In fact, that divine epitome of feminine charm remarked to me just recently, "We're the envy of all the boys who read your column, Charlie." How one blushed.
Yes, Chauncey Grandiose is the pride and the future of the Grandiose clan. Were he not so manly, one would mourn the fact that the Grandiose line would die out with him. But given his youth and vigour, one suspects it will not be long before he proposes in a manly way to a waif-like, moist little thing, and plant in her his manly seed, and produce manly little heirs who one day will grow up to be manly little men just like their manly papa, and propagate their manly blood through the manliest and most noble bloodlines.
Mr. Nunn, one gives you the two-fingered salute.
For yet another week, one remains in a manly way,
Dear Sir Charles,
You know how it is at work. Well, no, you probably don't. Let me explain it to you. There are these things called offices, and you sit inside one, with the door open, doing the little tasks that are supposed to be keeping you on the company payroll.
But after a while, when you've spent so much time inside the four walls of you particular office or cubicle, you forget you're at work. If you develop a nail snag, you reach in your desk for your file and fix it. If you need to call home to tell your husband not to forget to take out the frozen ground chuck for the meatloaf that night, you pick up the phone and dial.
The upshot of this, I guess, is that I'm trying to tell you that yesterday when my boss and an important client came in, I wheeled around in my chair and we all discovered, much too late, that I had subconsciously inserted my finger up my nose and begun exploring. I was in mid-exploration when they interrupted me, and my was I horrified.
What can you do in this sort of situation, Sir Charles?
Sir Charles replies:
My dear girl,
One can immediately think of several things not to do.
1) Offer to shake hands.
In short, there is very little one can do under the circumstances save to remove the offending finger from the nasal cavity, smile, and carry on as if nothing had happened.
However, you may wish to get your resume in order, and quickly, unless you actually enjoy being called 'Nosy Poker' at the water cooler for the rest of your life.
Reminding one's readers that when it comes to nose-picking,
one should Just Say No, one remains,
Do Not Discard writes:
Dear SIR CHARLES GRANDISOE,
Do not discard this letter!
You are receiving a once in a lifetime chance to own your own business! I started my own business three years ago simply by selling a simple product that everyone needs and now today at this moment I own my own home and drive an expensive car that gets all the girls drooling.
And what is this magical product, SIR CHARLES GRANDISOE? Is it internet stocks? No! Is it an aphrodisiac? No! Is it telephone marketing? No! No! And no!
The answer is simple: Flypaper.
Sir Charles replies:
Dear scum of the earth,
One had no need to read the rest of your dreary missive. One already has all the flypaper that one needs. Apparently it is the sort that attracts and captures the flotsam and jetsam of the gene pool, not to mention the generally insane.
Dismissively, one remains,
My Dearest Lady Felicia,
I recently got married and my husband and I just sat down to write thank-you letters for the gifts we received. Unfortunately, there are two gifts without any sort of identification on them. There are also five guests who we cannot link to any identified gift. In addition, my aunt claims to have brought a gift that we cannot find. (The wedding was at a personal residence). We want to thank everyone, but we do not know which of those five guests brought those two unidentified gifts. For that matter, we do not know which of those five guests brought nothing at all.
How do we politely explain the problem to them? The five guests include people with whom we are very close: my cousin and her husband (who stayed at my house for one week), my boss (who mentioned what a great gift she would buy us), one of my bridesmaids, and two cherished colleagues.
The Lady Felicia replies:
Dear Mrs. Vazquez-Groff,
Brace yourself, my dear. My advice to you is not pleasant and will be more than a little unsettling.
I will not lie. Your situation is bad. Very bad. Could not, in fact, be much worse. Consider: Can you go, cringing and apologetic, to these guests and explain the situation? No, you cannot. It would be inexcusable to injure the feelings of your guests in this way. Can you send generic thank-you letters, carefully avoiding any mention of an actual gift : "Thank you for the gift of your presence at our wedding"? No, you cannot. I am sure your friends and family are not simpletons (in fact, I suspect that three of them have been very clever indeed) and this would be tantamount to admitting that you lost track of the gifts and, there, feelings are being hurt again.
Bad enough that in the blinding passion of your Love, you were careless enough to lose track of gifts and cards. This is why people have social secretaries, dear - but, la, I forgot - you will no longer need one of those where you are going. No, what is worse is that you have been the victim of a wedding gift bluffer - not only one, but three! A wedding gift bluffer, you ask? Yes, dear: the Bride's Bane. These unscrupulous bounders attend the wedding and the reception, partake mightily of the buffet and the open bar, and bring no gift, counting on the possibility that in the hustle and bustle, gifts and cards will become muddled. Shocking, I know.
There is, I am afraid, no recourse. You and your groom must cut all ties and flee the country together. Perhaps you might find a suitable residence in one of the smaller, uninhabited islands of Micronesia. I have heard that this answers well for couples in your predicament. Harbour no hopes of ever returning, for confusions over wedding presents are never, never forgotten. Never. Make the best of it. You have your Love for each other and that solar-powered blender - a wedding gift from your second cousin - will do very nicely in southern climes.
Serenely, one remains