Mr. Manners is morose. Worse. Blue, blue, indigo blue. He – no, really the island – has suffered a setback.
Mr. Manners had taken his position of “arbiter of all things mannerly” with Pinnacle Media many years ago because of the mission – certainly not because of the paltry pay. Everyone knows that Pinnacle pays a pittance – certainly not even subsistence wages if one considers subsistence a few decent meals a month at Blue.
In fact, Mr. Manners never really considered himself an etiquette expert at all. Sure, he knew his way around a formal dining table and could easily instruct on the proper management of multiple forks and other confusing cutlery.
And yes, some of Cayman’s most notable socialites confide in him all too regularly after committing yet another blunder at some fancy affair or another. His notes of apology, by many who know of such things, are considered works of art in themselves, right up there with the best of Shelley or Keats.
Truth be told, Mr. Manners considers himself more of a social anthropologist than an advisor on gentlemanly behavior. He was particularly inspired by that woman anthropologist in Africa who has spent most of her life living among the baboons. What was her name? You know who we mean. She always wears those safari hats . . .
Makes no difference. Mr. Manners considered his “beat” akin to the African savannah where the male of the species might well benefit from a modicum of tutoring in the refinements of social interaction. Put more bluntly, Mr. Manners wanted to do “missionary work” among the rude and crude males of the Cayman Islands.
Women supported Mr. Manners in his chosen work and regularly regaled him with horrific tales about their mates, ranging from their bathing and hygiene habits (or lack thereof), their complete lack of regard for mixing plaids with stripes, and for their use of language that harkened back to seafaring days when men’s manners were honed on schooners in the company of other men.
Nevertheless, Mr. Manners thought he was making some progress. Retailers reported brisk sales of greeting cards and even flowers in the run-up to Valentine’s day, and one notoriously ill-dressed man actually upgraded to a blue suit – as opposed to his usual brown – to attend a black-tie dinner. Yes, there’s been progress.
But then the “Driftwood Monologue” took place at the Government Administration Building, a shouting match so loud and so profane between a male superior and his female acolyte that Mr. Manners realized that any forward motion he thought he had been making had been illusory.
A few days later, another incident surfaced in the same government building, again heavily punctuated with profanity.
Fairness requires us to report that in both incidents, the offending males quickly followed up their tirades with written apologies. It’s a start.
However, a Freedom of Information request revealed no government credit card charges had been made at Celebrations, Trisha’s Roses, Every Bloomin’ Thing, or any other flower emporium on the island.
(Gentlemen, when your offense involves the fairer sex, always, always send flowers – and the bigger the bouquet, the better. A single rose from a grocery store simply won’t do.)
In closing, we are irresistibly drawn to the literary bon mot of novelist Norman Mailer who in 1960 stabbed his then-wife Adele following a Greenwich Village party that got a bit, er, lively. Now that’s seriously bad behavior – not of the single-rose variety.
Mailer (soon dubbed “Mailer the Impaler” by some New York wit) explained: “As long as you use a knife, it shows there’s still a little bit of love left.”
Yes, surprise, surprise, men do act badly, and, yes, it is Mr. Manners’s lot in life to civilize the uncivil.
We’ll close with a quote (we seem to be feeling a bit literary, Mailer and all) from Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Mr. Bach was asked how one knew when his mission in life was completed.
He responded: “If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
Well, we’re alive and we’re not quitting. We’ll be back, hopefully in a more upbeat mood, in the next issue of Grand Cayman Magazine.