Friday, January 12, 2007

The Art of the Duel

Ah, the reparteé...

Doom said: So Romantic! There were those times, long since past, where such things were the norm. Though, it was only in comparatively more recent times when fisticuffs became an accepted gentemanly endeavor while full dress was in order. The elegance, the splendor, the duels... sigh You were born too late, Pretty Lady. For myself, I feel very dated. Even suits were better than what passes for fashion these days. I think the world has changed from a place where people tried to move up in the world to one where people decidedly work toward the lower rungs. sigh... again...

Still, you make my heart sing with your dreams! Perhaps all is not lost!

Chris Rywalt said...

You're right, Doom. The world was a better place when two well-dressed gentlemen could take a nice walk followed by hurling lead balls at each other at a thousand feet per second. There's simply nothing to compare with having your liver blown out through your spine and then spending three agonizing days before expiring.

Although having a long piece of steel slid through your entrails followed by a few days of sepsis and then death, that's a close second.

Once upon a time, there were Guys, their Girlfriends, and Pretty Lady.

Pretty Lady read an interview with Madonna once, wherein this quintessential anti-lady mused, "I had a reputation as a slut, even while I was still technically a virgin." At the time, she was inclined to believe that a similar thing had happened to her. Even in this modern day and age, a woman who does not fit any obvious stereotypes will still be slotted into the nearest General Category, no matter how inaccurate the definition.

However, with time and distance, Pretty Lady now thinks otherwise. The fact is, Pretty Lady is one of those rare ladies who simply Likes Men, as a separate characteristic from having Indiscriminate Sex with Men, and even at an early age, this general affinity came across loud and clear. While the other girls largely kept to the side of their Chosen Male, clinging to his knee and murmuring in low tones, or gathered in groups to natter about Girl Things, Pretty Lady swanned around in solitary insouciance and made Outrageous Comments on Matters Philosophical. For the thing she so likes about men is that they like to talk about such stuff, and not just about clothes and gossip and menstrual cramps.

At times the boys appreciated this fact, at other times they were irritated and perplexed by it, particularly when Pretty Lady unwisely attempted to horn in on Guy Time. There were Dramas, there were Tiffs, there were wounded feelings all round, but by and large, in those days, a good time was had by all.

These good times were enabled and abetted by the time-honored academic tradition of the Open Keg Party, of which there were at least two or three on any given weekend. These parties quickly, that is within twenty-four hours, assumed the stuff of legend. Who said what to who, who broke up, hooked up, had a dramatic meltdown and drove off in a dangerous state of drunkenness despite the equally drunken remonstrances of his friends, were the subject of endless conversation during the following week (in between semi-learned discourse on Foucault and Burroughs and Nietszche, of course). Pretty Lady, she blushes to admit, swam through these parties as though they were her natural habitat.

Upon one memorable occasion, it was discovered far too late in the evening that Pretty Lady's last chance for a ride home had departed long since. The remaining occupants of the scene were in far too advanced a state of inebriation to even attempt the classic Texas 'I drive better when I'm drunk, because I'm SO CAREFUL' maneuver, and walking home alone at 3 AM in a neighborhood where lurked the notorious Hyde Park Rapist was out of the question.

Fortunately, this party was hosted by a True Gentleman friend of Pretty Lady's, who generously offered her the private use of his bedroom, while he would eventually (around 6) pass out upon the sofa, his flute still reclining across his chest. (Dear Octavio. What a sweetheart. Pretty Lady devoutly hopes he eventually overcame the demons of social alcoholism and went on to live a productive life; she rather suspects, due to the wonders of Google, that he did.)

Unfortunately, Octavio's roommate was an Irish individual of no gentlemanly character at all. As soon as Pretty Lady had retired, the Irishman retired with her, and proceeded to optimistically try to talk her into having sex with him.

The grounds for his optimism were that "you flirted with me!"

"I flirt with everybody," Pretty Lady replied, sleepily. "Flirting is a social activity, not a sexual one. I'm sorry you misunderstood."

"Come on, give me a chance," persisted the Irishman.

"You have not got a prayer," said Pretty Lady, in stern exasperation.

"I have prayers, I have hopes, I have dreams..." retorted the Irishman, in a state of maudlin melodrama which deceived no-one.

At this juncture, Pretty Lady was reminded of that line in Pride and Prejudice: "that if he persisted in considering her repeated refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her father, whose negative must be uttered in such a manner as must be decisive, and whose behavior at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female."

Forthwith, she departed to the living room, and requested of the True Gentleman: "Tell your roommate to stop making moves on me so I can go to sleep."

This did the trick, not because the True Gentleman's word was actually required, but because her departure from the bedroom effectively convinced the Irishman that further remonstrance was futile.

Of course, this amusing tale made the rounds of Academic Society the next week, particularly as Pretty Lady had left a charmingly urbane little thank-you note before her early-morning departure, which was passed around and exclaimed upon. In the course of all the chatter, it was discovered that this was neither the first nor the second time that the Irishman had tried such a thing. In fact, the man had a veritable habit of entering ladies' bedrooms uninvited, late at night, and showering them with suggestive blarney until they thumped desperately upon the wall, or threatened legal action if he did not desist.

So what did Pretty Lady's gentleman friends do? Did they challenge the man to a duel? Did they take him out by the dumpsters and work him over? Did they even put some Strong Words of Warning in his ear?

They did not. They waited until he was safely back in Ireland, and then they satirized him.

Indeed, posted anonymously upon the wall at another late keg party, there appeared "The Tale of R. G." It tracked the movements of the dastardly Irishman across the continent, leaving a string of rape-crisis centers in his wake. It dwelt upon his methodology, his apparent preference for ladies half-awake, his excess of florid blather. It was rather well-done; Pretty Lady wishes she had a copy today.

At the time, Pretty Lady rather wished her gentleman friends were more decisive, direct and forthright, rather than wittily passive-aggressive. Some part of her reptile brain genuinely would have liked an indignant swain to punch the fellow in the jaw, and warn him away from Decent Ladies.

But by and large, she now approves the behavior of her gentleman friends. Their point was made, her reputation was intact, and nobody went to jail. Thus a happy ending.


Crom said...

I had unfortunate luck one time when I stood up to a man who was abusing a woman verbally in a pub, and when I told him to cease and desist, he took a poke at me. I knocked him down and was advancing to finish the job when the bouncers grabbed me, delivered a few swift strikes to my groin and rather unceremoniously dumped me in the back alley. They seemed to be of a mind to rearrange my face when the girl burst through the back door and told the encroaching gentlemen that I was indeed not the villain, and saved me from what was shaping up to be a fairly decent ass-whupping.

I wish the story had a happier ending, like I at least got her phone number, but alas - I walked (rather unsteadily) home and called it a night.

Anonymous said...

That is so weird, Crom. My last two entanglements were while I was a bouncer and involved women getting hit by men. I decided I should leave the bouncing to people who don't actually hospitalize people, even if they hit a woman first.

I will say, I was voted the nicest bouncer, in general. I never just tossed people around or out. I would spend time talking a drunk out, taking as much care as I could not to hurt (or even hit) people. One made it out the door fine but decided to come back in and hit me in the back of the head... oops. The other I dragged apart from the girl and out the door, but he was swinging from the start. I even received a thanks from one of the women. Anyway... I hope you don't hate all bouncers (or ex-bouncers).

Crom said...


Not a bit. I spent some time as a bouncer myself, and did security at the arena and at the stadium when I was in college. Most of them are decent guys, all they saw was me deck the other guy so I understood their motivation.

I was back at the same pub the next night, and all they did when they saw me was nod and grin.

Pretty Lady said...

Pretty Lady's dream has indeed come true! Her friends are various incarnations of Vin Diesel in his prime!

Let her breathe a deep sigh of contentment.

Chris Rywalt said...

Alas, I am more like Willard Gasohol than Vin Diesel.

Pretty Lady said...

Ah, Chris, but you order a mean shoelace. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I had unfortunate luck one time when I stood up to a man who was abusing a woman verbally in a pub, and when I told him to cease and desist, he took a poke at me. I knocked him down and was advancing to finish the job when the bouncers grabbed me, delivered a few swift strikes to my groin and rather unceremoniously dumped me in the back alley. This also happened to me.