[Advance warning: this is a long one. Also, support my hypothetical gubernatorial campaign!]
I was born at the wrong time. I’ve always known this. I long for the olden days — not too far back, mind you, but the 1930s onwards. It would have been more fun and I think I could have made something of myself in a way that I can’t figure out now.
I heard an expression once that went something like this: “I was sixty before I was sixteen.” I loved it then and love it now. I am only now becoming young. For the past two decades I’ve been an old man. Don’t know why, it’s just the way I am. STOP EVERYTHING! MANDATORY DOLLY INTERLUDE!
Lord, don’t you just adore her? If you don’t, you’re wrong, you know? She’s the queen of my heart. Beyoncé the queen of my soul. Can you even imagine what would happen if they did a duet? My mind just orgasmed.
Anyway, I feel that I properly should have been born in 1910 in England to a titled family of rich explorers. In my youth we went all over the Empire — from Egypt to Nepal to a ill-conceived expedition to the Antarctic that left my father mortally ill and left me in charge of the family fortune. In 1930, after finishing my education at Oxford and tired of my existence, I should have embarked on a ship for New York City, where, given my familial name and loads of cash, I would have installed myself as a beloved socialite known the country over for my lavish parties in my penthouse and my good looks. Something like this would take place:
Then I’d probably join in this parade:
Tired again of this existence, I should have taken my own plane and flown out to Hollywood around 1937 where I would have installed myself in the newly flourishing city and found a delightful career in the movie business. A jack of all trades, I suppose. Acting a bit, directing some, writing lots, and being in all the magazines as an obscure and delightful English aristocrat with a lifetime achievement award from the Academy. I’d look something like this:
Yes, I would be William Powell.
Around 1970 when cinema turned to shit, I should have taken myself into retirement in Paris where I remained until my rather recent death of 2011. Over the following decades I didn’t sit idly by, mind you. I travelled the world over during the brutal Parisian winters. I smuggled a lion cub into France from one of my safari expeditions.
More like this, probably, though:
I knew India like the back of my hand. The Japanese would go into a frenzy when I came to Kyoto for the cherry blossom festivals. The Czar of Russia was a dear friend. I had a weekend home in the Czech countryside. I died one day, quite all of a sudden on my daily walk through the Jardin des Tuileries, clutching a poppyseed baguette to my breast. You can now visit my sepulchre in Père Lachaise. I’ll leave the door open. Do come in for tea. I’d like that.
Anyway, that’s what my life should have been. It’s not how it turned out, obviously and that does rather piss me off, but in my mind — that’s all real. I miss the history I never had, and that is why I would love to see these following old habits and customs and things come back to us in our modern times. Please do enjoy. And dress up to read this blog, I don’t want you sitting around in sweatpants, peasant. I don’t even want to think about it!
1. Saying “dahling” in everyday language with a Talluluh Bankhead accent.
Nobody calls each other darling anymore and I think that’s awfully tragic. It’s so chic to call somebody a doll or a dear or a darling or a dearie. It’s even more chic to do it with an affected accent and perhaps with a cigarette smoldering betwixt your fingers. “Dahling,” you purr to the person you want to do something for you, “would you be a doll and bring me a martini? Two olives. Thank you dearie.” We don’t have anything like that anymore. It’s more along the lines of, “BITCH BRING ME SOME BEER! *belch*” I cringe at the modern world. We should all be talking nonsense with the strange accents of 1930s Hollywood.
2. Elegant train travel.
Travel these days is so demodé. There is no class anymore. Nowadays, I’m the only man in a suit on the planes and get looked at oddly. When did sweatpants and basketball shorts become something acceptable to be seen outside of the gym? I don’t think they ever did and that has made the world a tragic place. Don’t you dare tell me that you enjoy people watching at the airport — you might watch in horror, but you don’t take pleasure in people’s attire. In the olden days you would take the overnight train from Los Angeles — never LA, always the full name — to New York where you would exit into Grand Central dripping in fur and jewels and your porter would carry your luggage to the taxi where your dear friends would be waiting for you shouting, “Dahling! Let’s go and get a martini. My how you look divine!” We don’t even have a passenger train going through Des Moines anymore — not to my knowledge at least. There are talks of getting a high speed train from Chicago to Des Moines. I am in full favor of this. We need so much more public transportation! It’ll be the cornerstone of my eventual gubernatorial campaign. But I haven’t gotten my hopes up because people are lazy and trains aren’t classy anymore. The last train I was on got me all excited for the lounge because there was a martini glass with an arrow leading you there. They didn’t serve martinis. They served frozen hamburgers that they blasted in a microwave. I turned up my nose and left, passing by the piss-covered lavatories. What is wrong with people?
3. A time when sweatpants didn’t exist.
Believe it or not, but people actually used to attempt to look nice. They didn’t parade around in public in the worst attires they could possibly throw together. I think there is an effort going around to look as trashy as possible. I will never join in on this travesty. I think poor dressing is a reason most people are depressed. You feel good when you look good. So, lose weight, buy a suit, or a dress, or both if you’re of a mind to, and pretty yourself up before heading to the shops. I do hope you go to shops plural and make days out of shopping excursions. That helps the economy and you get lots of lovely bags. Anyway, I’m constantly appalled when I see people out in public like this:
4. Madcap cocktail parties.
First thing’s first, we need to bring back my favorite word, MADCAP. Have you used it within your lifetime? Probably not and I think that’s another global travesty. Do you even know what it means? Say that you do, please!
madcap |ˈmadˌkap| adjective, amusingly eccentric: done or thought up without considering the consequences; crazy or reckless
Good word isn’t it? I thought you’d agree. Anyway, nobody throws cocktail parties anymore and that’s a crime against society. I can’t imagine how much better the world would be if we had regular cocktail parties. I’m going to diverge. I was born with the Internet and I think that was both a blessing and a curse. It opened the world to me in a way that no previous generation could possibly imagine, but also became isolating. The Internet became a friend to everybody I grew up with and we connected to each other through it instead of through each other. As time goes on and technology grows, it becomes worse/better. Now we just text or message each other. People don’t even take the time to email these days. But, if we had regular cocktail parties, we could get together and socialize and drink and laugh about the word cocktail. Maybe that’s just me? I think they’d be a riot. I’m going to bring them back some day.
5. Society pages.
What ever happened to society pages? How do we keep up with socialites? Oh yeah, that’s right, we don’t have them anymore — they became the Kardashians. Le sigh… I think it would be marvelous to gossip about real people that were a part of your life instead of millionaires we’re probably not going to meet. You aren’t, I mean, I have aspirations. I love slander and lies and filthy gossip and I think it would be an incredibly good time to be written about scandalously in the local society page. Don’t you? Maybe not. Probably why we don’t have society pages anymore.
6. Shoe shiners, and the shoes needing shined.
At one point in history, there was a time when people actually wore nice shoes every day. They wouldn’t parade about in Crocs and Vans and those ridiculous excuse of footwear called Toms. I refuse to believe Vans and Toms are anything more than heavy-duty house slippers. What ever happened to house slippers!?!? And Crocs should be banished. They make sense for walking along the beach — but why not go barefoot, so much more romantic — or for working in the garden, but they should not be worn in the restaurants. Have you seen the people that put little decorative bits and bobs on them? They make me ill. SICK TO MY STOMACH. People need to wear nice shoes again to go with the suits and dresses and pantsuits and decent attire they’re going to start donning again after reading this post. This will boost the economy because cobblers and shoeshiners will be back in business. Thank you very much, vote for me for governor. We’re going to have a good time, Iowa.
I’m just going to come out and say it: men today look like shit. Utter and total shit. For some reason it’s gay to look good. You know what is gay, kissing boys. End of story. Looking nice is nice! Grow your hair out, give it some style, give it some class. Take five minutes in the morning and brush it. Groom your facial hair, if you have it. The stubble look is fine if you can pull it off. If you can’t, shave it. Buy some pomade, slick back your hair, feel dapper, enjoy your life.
8. Gorgeous public architecture and stunning private design.
Public buildings and private homes used to be gorgeous. They weren’t identical bores. A week or so ago, I drove past a housing development and wanted to collapse in a heap and weep. There was no soul and no heart and no character and no joy. It was like being stuck in an endless loop, the only variation being the kind of fencing. Some had that prison-like metal link shit and others had plastic meant to look like a white picket fence. It was tragic. In the past, buildings like this one above were normal. Elegant moulding and plastered walls were to be expected. A marble floor would not raise an eyebrow. Now you go into a new home and fear that you’re going to tear the cheap carpet or dent the wall when you jubilantly throw open the hollow-core door. Oh, reader, living in one of those homes must put a person on suicide watch. I couldn’t do it. Let’s bring back stunning buildings that are worth standing up for centuries, not what we can put up on the cheap. It might take some more tax money, but wouldn’t you rather be surrounded by art than sadness? I would.
9. Victory gardens.
People are gardening more these days, but I don’t think it’s as common an endeavor as we are led to believe. When I go on my annual fifty-mile bicycle ride, I pass through a lot of backyards and see the weed patches that are called gardens. Everybody gets excited to plant and grow their own tomatoes, but soon the weather and the bugs and work becomes too much and we go to Walmart for our potatoes. It’s sad really. Many people have backyards and even people who live in cities can have window boxes. It’s not hard to grow a tomato and a bit of basil. It’s not hard to plant a crop of potatoes. I love the idea of a victory garden and I think we should really push to have more of them — not reprints of classic victory garden posters. I’m so sick of vintage. Actually bring vintage back if you love it!
10. Joan Crawford and her ilk.
We don’t have movie stars anymore. We just have sluts on parade. That’s what the old stars were, too, mind you, and I applaud them, but they had publicity. They also had class. You wouldn’t see Joan Crawford going to the gym in sweats and Uggs — I forgot to mention that horror story earlier. You wouldn’t see a tweet from Bette Davis calling Jean Arthur ugly. They would think it of each other, but you wouldn’t see it. Interviews would be charming and thought-provoking, not some poorly told story about that one time so and so got high at the club and got into a fender bender with a paparazzi. When I’m famous, I’m going to be the classiest bitch in town in my custom suit, slicked back hair, hosting my weekly cocktail parties with my fans — whom I shan’t be afraid of and plan on returning every fan letter. Did you know that Meryl Streep, whom I admire, doesn’t respond to fan mail! I was so upset by this. How ungrateful! Bring back classy stars like Joan and Bette and Jean and Cary and Myrna and William and all the rest.
11. Elegant evenings on the town.
People don’t go out and have a nice time anymore. Now it’s all about whoring yourself up and getting drunk at a bar. This applies to both sexes. It’s sad and there’s no fun in sweating in a club when a meth addict starts grinding on you. Trust me on this. People used to put on suits and dresses and go dancing. They’d listen to a lounge singer and make pleasant chitchat. They’d have thoughts and ideas and everybody could rhumba. I don’t have a clue how to rhumba. I can barely waltz. It’s a tragedy, reader, and I think we can all agree on that. Wouldn’t it be nice to go out in your nicest shoes with people you love talking to, drink too much pink champagne, and cha cha until three in the morning? I think so.
12. Cursive penmanship and letter writing.
Nobody can write anymore. Adults write like children and children write like animals. At work, I can rarely decipher the sentences they struggle to scratch out. I was horrified when they stopped teaching cursive. It’s an archaic, yes, but necessary skill! Teach typing and cursive at the same time, why not? I’m so confused with where the world is going. I struggled to write beautifully in cursive, but now I can do it with ease. This is an art that we are close to losing and it needs to return pronto. I love when I get a card from my grandmother because she has the prettiest penmanship. I’m jealous of it. So many loops! If people knew how to write, maybe they’d write letters again. When was the last time you received a letter? Was it in this decade? The last piece of personal correspondence that I received was in January — well-written, too, so I cherish it with almost maniacal pride. I love writing letters, but nobody responds. People don’t even take the time to write proper emails anymore, like I said before. I received a text once that read something like this: “r u there ;))))) itll b gr8” What is that even supposed to mean? When did these hieroglyphs start passing for English? So, start practicing your cursive, start writing letters — people love getting letters! I don’t know anybody who would be annoyed to receive a letter. Hell, send me one and I’ll write back. I’ll be your pen pal if it helps you write better.
13. Chain gangs.
I honestly don’t know if we have chain gangs anymore. Probably not. Prisoners are so whiny. I don’t know what they’re complaining about, at least they haven’t been gassed, yet. Prisoners are an undervalued resource in this nation. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world! There are 2,266,800 prisoners right now just begging to feel accomplished. Instead of letting them make shivs out of cigarette butts and fight gang wars, make them make things! Think of all the free labor! Think of prisoners as cash (as long as you treat them humanely, of course). You could rent out prisoners and open up safer sweat shops. Think of the economy! Yes, there will be displaced workers when their jobs are replaced by convicts, but as governor, I will find them new jobs. The shoe industry is going to be massive, remember? And I haven’t even brought up my fashion police innovation. We’re going to fine people for sweatpants. Five dollars for each offense. Uggs are ten. Exposed flabby flesh is fifteen. If you’re fit, you can show as much skin as you want. Keep the genitals covered, though, cheers. Anyway, chain gangs need to be reinstated for the good of America.
14. Chivalrous and gallant antebellum South.
Not a lot of you are going to agree with this one, but I adore the old south and wish it hadn’t gone off so badly. Slavery was awful, yes, but with the industrial revolution and all, I say with considerable confidence that it wouldn’t have lasted much longer than it did. As if the Civil War were about slavery, but don’t get me started. I had a relative in yesteryear who had a plantation and I like to think of myself at the ancestral home (I need to find out if it’s still around), sipping a mint julep on the porch, smoking a cigar (which you don’t actually smoke, did you know?), going horseback riding, wearing a top hat which you tip at the ladies, there would be lots of bourbon, wild nights in New Orleans, socializing at a barbecue, having a mammy, daydreaming about Ashley Wilkes, trying to deny your newly discovered passion for Rhett Butler…hold on, I’ve gone all Gone With the Wind on you. I love that book. Let’s bring back the good old days of the South.
15. Zest for life.
This image is a terrible example, but it showed up in my Google search and it made me laugh, and it kind of works, so I’m throwing it in. After chain gangs and an old South revival, I’ve probably lost my campaign chances, so screw it! Back in the olden times, the early 20th century mainly, it seems people had a zest for life and an eagerness for the future. They would find any job they could and work to move up. They weren’t forced into college from the time they were in elementary school, they could work as vacuum salespersons or encyclopedia dealers. They’d move up a chain based on merits not certification. It seems a more honest system where people were given a fair chance. Nothing’s fair anymore and everything’s impossible. Admit it, reader, it’s true. You can’t follow your dreams anymore because you can’t afford your dreams. You can’t do what you really want because society will judge you. You can’t be yourself because it is not normal to be yourself. It’s normal to be somebody else. It’s normal not to know what you like and what your passions are. It’s normal to be a boring clone. Back then, that didn’t seem to be the case. Farm boys would throw down their shovels and say, “I’m going to Broadway!” Then their grandmothers, who always harbored dreams of a better life, secretly give them fifty dollars for a train ticket and room for a few months (fifty bucks could get you the world) and off they’d go. They would work and work as a stagehand and a ticket taker, but eventually Mr. Ziegfeld would see them and they’d be doing a duet with Fanny Brice before turning into an alcoholic, but they’d recover and have more fame. Yes I just blended Funny Girl and A Star is Born, but so what, who cares? I have dreams, I have aspirations, I have goals, I have plans…but they’re so hard to make come true. Let’s bring back carefree hope.
SO, the world isn’t as awful as I might think it is, we’ve got a lot of good things like: Beyoncé, equal rights (kind of), iPads, fast airplanes, vaccines, Target, espresso machines, and rare cat breeds — but we could make the world so much better by incorporating the past into the present. Just because we’ve moved forward doesn’t mean we have to forget the past!