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!