Thursday, August 21, 2014

Christmas Ads in August!

Tell me it's not true! In the dog days of summer I just saw the first Christmas advertisement on TV!

It was an ad for Viking Cruises on European rivers for the upcoming holiday season. While this kinda-sorta makes sense to book early for limited space, the very word 'Christmas' gets me a little agitated in the middle of August! (It won't be hours or days before we start getting hammered with Christmas music ads right?)

The truth is, retailers are already gearing up, and any minute now we'll start seeing Christmas stuff popping up on shelves at Sam's Club, Costco, and Walmart.

By necessity, in the world of the rich preparations start early as well. In July I met with our greeting card designer and things are already underway. The front of the card will be a drawing of the house with a blanket of new snow. The inside message (handwritten by our calligrapher) will say "Greetings and best wishes during this wonderful time of year." (This kind of noncommittal greeting, of course, can be sent out to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, right? My employer even has two Hindu friends who won't be offended by this message.)

I've already booked the caterers for the annual office Christmas party, and for three obligatory cocktail events that bind this crowd of old-guard rich together. Since the divorce, however, again there's no big parties or galas planned for this year.

The new girlfriend might have some events up her sleeve. But she better well have her own caterers lined up. I'm in no mood to jump through hoops at the last minute.

Our gift list has dwindled of course, since the divorce, and easy enough to handle. But our sixteen-foot artificial tree for the entry hall flopped out last year, so I need to scramble around and find a new one.

I don't mean to intrude on your last few lazy-hazy days of summer, but why should I be the only one to suffer? Christmas is on the way, whether we like it or not!

Thanks for dropping in,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Addendum to: "Board Games for the Rich!"

The question about what the super rich do when they get together has come up many times in several different ways. In the last post you may recall I was attempting to answer the question about whether or not they play board games.

In my world of the old-guard rich, the answer is no. But they do engage in another type of parlor game that requires wit, mental agility, and stamina. It's called repartee, or sparring.

They chitchat, they drink, and they banter all through the evening. There's laughter with each level of excess, and the drunker they get, the louder the laughter. These mindless conversations almost always involve a degree of self deprecating humor, poking fun at themselves (or at each other) for some stupid little thing that's happened in their day-to-day lives. Nothing too mean or probing mind you, just silly stuff like:

- "Can you imagine? Escada declined my order!" a fat lady said one evening. (which brought some serious chuckles!)

- " Forgive the way I look tonight. The minute she finished washing my hair, my hairdresser went into labor!" (more laughter!)

- "When the pharmacy dropped off my husband's Viagra, the dogs grabbed it and chewed up the bottle! We didn't dare go outside!" (which brings howls!)

Dame Covington, explaining why she was late one evening, told everyone that when she was caught doing 50 in a 30, she scolded the cop and asked him, "Why did you stop me, young man, can't you see I'm in a hurry?"

Once when I got rooked into tending bar, a few old gentlemen clustered around the bar were discussing what their actuaries said about how much longer they have to live. "Six, eight, ten years", some of them bragged. But reaching for his fourth gin and tonic, one old buzzard replied, "Twenty-five, thirty minutes tops!" Which brought down the room!

This kind of playfulness is always going on at cocktail parties and events around here. And the thing is, the laughter seems genuine and everyone seems to be having a good time. In fact, it all seems to be in the great tradition of Oscar Wilde, who's repartee among the British upper classes is well known, if not renowned.

I think it was Wilde's stage play "An Ideal Husband" wherein the lead character Sir Robert Chiltern was berating himself for something or other, and one of his old cronies said "You needn't put yourself down old man, your friends will do that for you."

Now that's the kind of repartee that legends are made of!