Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Play Your Cads Right

Having grown up in unfortunately close proximity to several spoiled and worthless lumps, I have had the displeasure of knowing them now as adults.  The type is unavoidable in city life: man-children who grew up in consequence-free environments, perpetually unhappy yet striving to fulfill the unfulfillable, and endlessly revolving in a worn-out formula of social interaction and long-fatigued charm.  In doses, they can be alright for an evening, but they quickly burn through the good graces of their once-reputable family name and (wrongfully) the courtesies extended to them because of legacy.

On a recent occasion, I had the odd experience of somehow agreeing to join one particular man-child to his house in the city following a late arts event.  As a group, we walked from the event to his two floors in a nice old city home.  We were a group of five men, and all but one had successfully avoided the after-invite to his place for drinks for almost a decade.  For reasons known only to gin, I relented, and made the trip that thousands before me had.

Once inside, he encouraged us to make ourselves "at home" while he mixed up some drinks.  We were getting the more casual treatment; had there been women present, he would have activated his routine, which was notorious and predictable.  His house was a once-large but now cluttered cave.  His parents had left him the majority of their collection, and he jammed everything into his two floors.  Stacks of precious English porcelain unused in decades, framed artwork older than his building stood in fours and fives on the floor behind his large doors and camel-back couches, and more silver than imaginable awkwardly crowded every available surface.  Cardboard wine boxes were stacked in the pantry, partially opened, and his entryway was jammed with groaning bookshelves and about forty umbrellas.

The Rake's Progress

Countless women have fallen prey to his "charm" but once back at his place, only the drunk, dedicated,  or ultra-wonk art worlders stay for the final act, the majority being scared off by the evidence.

Parents and grandparents who establish trust funds for their progeny should always include strict incentives and conditions for personal, academic, charitable, or professional development.  As I sat on his dusty couch, one of the men in our group leaned over and said

"This guy's had life on a silver platter, but nobody can sit at his dining room table because of all those silver platters". [***Blogger's Note: the silver was stacked haphazardly and tarnished nearly black].

He was right.  Once the trust account began making distributions to the man, he gave up.  What's worse, it is obvious that his trust was meant as a supplement to income.  When he says that he "is on the club's board" he is right.  What he doesn't tell you is that since most clubs occasionally resort to posting a list of persona non grata for unpaid bills, he is listed there.  So yes, he is on the board, but on the bulletin board.

He sees himself as a romanticized man of leisure, but he doesn't have the personality, the commitment, the actual knowledge, or the resources to pull it off.  He rides the coattails of his parents and grandparents, referring to their country or seaside houses as "my place on the coast".

One woman told me that she agreed to go back to his place for "one last drink" following an elegant charity ball about a year ago.  She pointed to the spoked ship's helm leaning against a wall, and asked from what boat it originated.

 "Oh, it's from my boat", he said.

"So... how do you steer the boat now?" she asked, setting a quick trap that would determine her exit speed.

"We actually sold it a few years ago" he said.

"We?" she asked.

"My parents and I together" he said.

She confirmed that he was a man-child there and then, and she showed herself out amidst his protests.

Why do I write all of this?  Not because he has languished on several pseudo-academic and museum boards contributing nothing and forcing others to carry his weight.  Not because he never pays the bills he lavishly runs up.  Not because he buzzes the same cocktail parties every year and angers his hostesses.  I write this because he stuck me with the bill for the second time in the most crafty way possible.  If it had not been me, I would have applauded the chess-like maneuver, but I was bested by a cad.

As I write this, I can also think of a fast dozen or so who fit this description.


  1. It struck me from your story how people impose their personality on their surroundings. If your 'friend' had managed to salvage the quality of real grace or charm from all the values he squandered, his house would not have radiated such unpleasantness, but instead might have been seen as possessing a Grey Gardens-type atmosphere.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. You are so right! An actual friend of mine lives in a similar abode with all the fantastic clutter of past aristocracy, but because he is charming, honorable, and gracious, it all seems pleasant.
      Parnassus, you are evidence that my blog's commenters are better and far smarter than my blog itself. Well said.

  2. What a wonderful explanation for why we need to tax the hell out of inheritances, inter vivos familial gifts, and investment/trust income. Our current regime is fundamentally at odds with American values. People like this, who we all unfortunately encounter, are a greater drain on society than welfare recipients.

    As for the charming, graceful ones--well, they damn well should be! And grateful, too. But take away their monthly distributions, require that they purchase a home for more than $1 by quitclaim, and re-route their inheritances to worthy charities. I suspect they'd not be so charming and graceful.

    1. Taxation for purposes of social engineering is misguided and leads to many unintended, negative consequences; not the least of which is the tendency of some to treat other people's property as societal assets to be allocated or redistributed as the majority directs. Taxes, beyond the purpose of funding the basic functions of limited constitutional government, are morally reprehensible.

      Rather than steal under the guise of government through confiscatory taxation, your underlying premise should be an appeal to those with money to spend it, donate it or otherwise utilize their wealth in their lifetimes for their own benefit or desire, and not leave it to their irresponsible and shiftless offspring.

    2. Anon 11:49 - You are exactly correct.

      Best regards,


  3. Gee "Anonymous," were you done with the Lenin-Marx-Trotsky blogs for the night and then came here?
    The man described in the article is a relatively harmless fop. Despite his less-than-honourable demeanor and sticking Yankee-Papa with the bill, he represents no real trouble except in a social setting.
    Your "eat-the-rich" attitude and calls for excessive taxation put you in the same tired character class as the man-child in the article. Socialists and Communists are an unfortunate and petty lot.

  4. The #final act you refer to lasted only 3-4 minutes according to a few women I know. But that was a while ago so I assume we're now down to about 2 minutes if at all. He is on the #bulletin board all over the eastcoast.

  5. Somehow I'm reminded of the lines, "You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely, but you know you only used to get juiced in it"

    The dude seems like a waste of good air.

  6. This makes me anxious. I hate clutter. I also hate bill stickers.

  7. "he encouraged us to make ourselves "at home"
    Good Lord, horrifying. I need a drink when I hear "nice" humbug.

    "His house was a once-large but now cluttered cave"
    Not necessarily a bad thing? More in the execution, I imagine.

    "Stacks of precious English porcelain unused in decades"
    Is that like those towels you aren't supposed to use in some people's bathrooms? Or those things some people keep "on display"?

    "framed artwork older than his building stood in fours and fives on the floor behind his large doors and camel-back couches"
    I don't mind rotating the art and having extra bits around, particularly if you know some artists, but whatever a camel-back couch is, it sounds terrible.

    "Cardboard wine boxes were stacked in the pantry, partially opened"
    People at the wine shop say that there is good stuff in boxes now. I prefer liquor, but I imagine there must be something in it.

    "his entryway was jammed with groaning bookshelves and about forty umbrellas"
    Suddenly I feel like this is a veiled attack against me, except YWP is coming next week, not last. Moreover, where are all my umbrellas? I can only find three, and one of those is apparently now a toy for the dog.

    To respond to the other commentators, the problem with the man described isn't his class position or inheritance, it's the part of him that is all his own. Don't know the cad personally I think, but we all know the ilk, from any walk of life.

  8. There are chaps (and chapettes) like that here, in Southern California, believe it or not.

    If Gin could talk...

  9. Don't feel bad for getting stuck with the check -- a guy like that has a lifetime's practice. There's no shame when an amateur loses to the pro.

  10. Don't feel bad for getting stuck with the check -- a guy like that has a lifetime's practice. There's no shame when an amateur loses to the pro.

  11. Sticking people with bills is one thing, but selling boats without helms...that's just wrong.

  12. Fascinating.
    I have absolutely never met anyone remotely like this. I have met plenty who share his lack of character, industry, and taste, but none with his historical resources.
    In the world of those from my financial background, what you call a cad, we call incarcerated.


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