Dear Internet: We, Gentlemen, envy the common hireling. Predictability! Routine! How we sometimes long for thee! For how often, dear reader, does even the most insignificant of office peons arrive at his desk in the morning only to find some stranger there, doing work similar but inferior to his own? I dare say, infrequently! Noble peon, dissatisfied as you may be, at least your desk chair awaits you, unwarmed by a foreign bottom!
Not so for The Gentlemen! Our workplace is the street’s corner, the public’s park, the subway’s platform; where any unpracticed interloper may interlope at his leisure. And too often have we been interloped upon! An example:
On a recent summer morn, The Councilman and I strolled through Central Park, quite content with ourselves for having arrived there before noon (a rare achievement!). Surely, we thought, our favorite performance spot awaits, unoccupied. I am pleased, The Councilman declared.
But how quickly the dew of pleasure ferments into a viler juice! For as you might suspect, our beloved Gentlemen’s Corner sang a stranger’s melody this day. And whereas a passerby might normally delight in the spectacle of two handsome young men, clothed in the well-tailored fineries of yesteryear, playing a most American brand of music at a most unreasonable pace; this day, said passerby found only a middle-aged fellow, in casual dress, tickling Russian melodies from an oversized accordian.
Sputnik, I cried, we are beaten! The Councilman said nothing, and I worried that he might betray his girlish nature with a public display of tears. We collapsed onto a nearby bench, dejected.
What is this, you ask? Do The Gentlemen wilt before such minor adversity?
Indeed! For on this particular morning, as on many mornings before and since, our blood ran particularly thick with the previous evening’s grog. Of course, had our innards been unburdened with the Lord’s poisons, we’d have scuttled off to an alternate location posthaste. On this day, however, our waifish frames had little strength for scuttling.
But, oh how the Lord did punish our loafery! For as we scowled in silence, we discerned a celebrated television quipster wandering past our bench. Is he, we wondered, trolling for talent? Is there a spot for our modest duo on this man’s late-night variety program? ‘Tis our big chance! The Gentlemen shall be discovered! Our gospel of musical gentlemanliness shall blanket the earth!
Alas, the strolling funnyman passed us by with nary a word. There is apparently no place on the small screen for seated, silent, glowering drunkards (in suits!). We watched in horror as he instead stopped before the accordianed Russian, swayed for a bit with evident delight, and dropped an untold sum into our rival’s basket.
The Councilman shuttered, then slumped beside me. I removed my suit-coat and draped it over his head. Weep, dear friend, the world shall not see your tears.
-S. Andy Bean