Lessons in Etiquette, Vol 3

Dear Internet:
As the reader is likely aware, the gentleman of old settled his disputes with fisticuffs, sabers, and pistols. And rightly so, say we! For what better way to punish a brute’s vulgar language or peculiar glances than to offer him a thorough pounding?

But alas, dainty forces have overtaken the judiciary, and a Gentlemen responding with appropriate firmness today will soon find himself brooding in the penitentiary. A shame! Gentlemen of the world have thusly tempered our righteous instincts. And to what end? Legions of louts stroll the land, unpunished for their loutishness; whilst we gentlemen laze in our homes, white gloved, seething in passive acceptance.

Today, The Gentlemen say no more! While it is perhaps favorable that men no longer draw their weapons willy-nilly, there remain some offenses that a proper gentleman can not ignore. We describe one of these presently.

We invite you to picture The Two Man Gentlemen Band as we entertain passersby on a subway platform. It is an abnormally steamy day and the traveler finds himself generally foul-tempered. “It is steamy and I am foul-tempered” mutters the passerby. Until he spies The Gentlemen, of course! “What luck, a two-man novelty band to give me cheer!” he says. “Take this dollar as reward!”

The scene is repeated dozens of times over and The Gentlemen soon find themselves deluged by dollars, gifts, and good cheer. Ladies drop in their phone numbers with a wink. Prospective benefactors slip us their business cards with a smile. Wealthy persons donate large bills befitting their wealth. We offer a hearty thank you to each.

But not all hearts turn our way, and several hours into our outing we encounter a surly customer indeed. He is a sweaty, lurching man with a sour countenance. Upon disembarking from his subway train, he pauses before The Gentlemen briefly, scowling. The Gentlemen take little notice of him. We have lost ourselves in song and have little time for skeptical, perspiring persons. The man listens for a bit, his ill-tempered expression worsening.

Deciding that he has heard enough, our sweaty patron makes to depart. A defeat for The Gentlemen? Could it be that we have brought no joy to this fellow’s day; that we have, in fact, aggravated his already bad humor? Impossible!

Impossible, indeed! For as the scowler makes his way toward the exit, The Gentlemen watch with glee as he removes a wad from his pocket and tosses it into our case! Dear reader, is there a frigid heart that cannot be thawed by our gentlemanly song? Oh, I think not!

But, wait! (The reader will now pardon us as we transition to the past tense). I sensed something peculiar about the man’s donation. Accordingly, I addressed my good partner, The Councilman. “Friend, I sense something peculiar about that man’s donation.”

“Your instincts are wise!” declared The Councilman. “Inspect!”

And inspect I did, for The Councilman’s advice is always sage, befitting his title. It took little inspection to determine that things were indeed amiss. Monetary donations come to us in two forms: the shiny coin or the greenish paper. The wad in question had a paperish consistency. It’s coloring, however, was a sickly yellow and white.

“This is no dollar bill” I cried, and thrust the crinkled wad into The Councilman’s view.

“A mustardy napkin? To arms!” declared The Councilman.

I jabbed my banjo into The Councilman’s outstretched hand and headed off in pursuit of the offender. Fueled by righteous bloodlust, I tore through the afternoon crowds towards the station exit. The Councilman remained behind, armed with our two instruments and a nasty look, to dissuade other passersby from discarding their refuse similarly. I followed the offender’s trail of greasy sweat drops up the station stairs to street level. A pummeling was in the offing! How I will pound this man, I thought! Once for myself and once for my man-partner! I arrived upon the street with some perspiration of my own! And fists!

Readers familiar with New York City may predict what transpired next. In the afternoon heat, there strolled not one sweaty, ill-tempered citizen, but thousands! Was I to pound them all for their likeness? Our antagonist was lost! Alas, there was little for me to do but return to my man-friend, with hands still curled in manly rage.

So, dear reader, what is a gentleman to do when the scoundrel wins the day? Pummel him with written words, of course! They are a gentleman’s fists!

Yours, ever devotedly,
Andy Bean


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