Monday, April 12, 2010

At a Soiree

As a nubile and dutiful niece, I am sometimes called upon to attend soirees in which flowered sundress, heels, and gloves are de rigeur. Plus a nice straw hat. That explains my being there, much like a rooster wearing socks. My aunt is in a lather to get me "married off," as my brother charmingly puts it. Anyway, here's the dialogue. I'm trying to write of manners, but I'm not cool or observant like Jane Austen.

"Miss B., I would like to tell you about my nephew, Mortimer.

"He is a very fine lad, and a very eligible from the finest of old New Orleans families. I have always believed that good genes make the man, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Blood will tell. Here is his picture (one of a fortyish, epicene male without a chin). He's a good boy, he lives at home on St. Charles Avenue with his mater and plays the organ at St. George's Episcopal every Sunday. He went to Tulane for a while, and found it too serious; so he transferred to Loyola and found it too Catholic for his tastes. Still, he helps his mother manage the family money, and they have a splendid time vacationing each year. The three of us get along famously; he's so mature and cultured. He knows the lyrics to all the Broadway show tunes and will sing a wide repretoire of them while playing the piano. Yes, you will enjoy their trips to the tropics, or daring to go to Europe; which is, you know, so European. Two weeks ago, he said while we were dancing at the Yacht Club, 'Auntie Mae, I think I must marry soon, as the family needs progeny to carry on. Oh, be a dear, and look for a likely young woman of quality stock and exquisite breeding. Someone who has refined tastes. Someone who is presentable when we go to resorts and associate with others of Our Set. Really, I need someone who knows how to pour coffee and serve petits four. Mortimer's full name is Mortimer Le Tremblay Du Bois-Reymond Willchester _____________. [old families]" He has lineage. But he is so accomplished. He makes his own vichyssoise, and is president of the local ikebana society."

"Ma'am, I have experience with pouring coffee. I have been working as a barista!"

"Oh, my goodness. What's that? Some of you college girls are so accomplished.

"Angel, Dear: when did you come out?"

[Oh. My. God. Does she think I'm a lesbian?]


"When and at what cotillion did you make your debut?"

"Ma'am, I didn't."

"Well, what school did you attend?"

I named a garden variety Catholic girls' high school.

Wrong answer. Or, upon reflection, right answer. She suddenly found my skirt to be too short and my hair and general appearance too modern.

"Mortimer really doesn't care for modern girls. As he puts it, 'Mama, no modern girls for me. They are too flashy and no amount of firmness will make real headway with them.'"

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