London Houses, Country Estates, Royalty, Etiquette, Polo, and Golf – Will the Leroy Watches Jr. We Love Survive?
Leroy Watches, Jr., the hero of Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull, is getting to be known and loved. He’s receiving fan mail. People mention him in emails. “He’s my favorite of all your characters,” someone said. “I’m in love with him,” someone else said. “What’s it like to be surrounded by gorgeous men?” [That referring to Wesley of Mogollon and Leroy.]
Why shouldn’t they say stuff like that? I’m in love with Leroy, too. What’s not to love? Leroy Watches Jr., you got to know him as the polite, incredibly tall (6′ 8 1/2″) hunk with supernatural powers and great rodeo skills. He’s Grandfather’s (the shaman of Mogollon and Numenon) only blood relation. He is an enrolled member of Grandfather’s Nation, thus Native, African and European American all at once.
In Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull, Leroy emerges from a warm, loving, and full life that stunted him in many ways. He was raised on his Nation’s reservation in New Mexico, the site of the giant spiritual retreat/riot in Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem. More recently, he lived on his father’s cattle ranch near Yosemite, CA. Not much call for sophistication in either place. Or formal table manners, knowledge of etiquette, or anything but shamanic practices and herding cows.
In my upcoming Christmas book, In Love by Christmas, the unfortunate man finds himself dropped into high society, not just high–royal–society, in the UK and other (undisclosed) places. Poor thing. That’s what happens when you’re a figment of my imagination.
I have been researching things like correct deportment [behavior], use of silverware, and how to address nobility and royalty. Along with foxhunting rules and how to play polo. It’s been a hoot.
I have a secret: I once knew all that stuff, and not so I could write a character in a book. I was once a princess, as I spell out in my new, truthful bio on my Amazon page. Yep. I was raised in one of the hallowed neighborhoods of the San Francisco Peninsula. As a matter of fact, it was right here. (Or formerly right there. New owners tore the 1950s structure down.) My parents had been very poor during the Great Depression. They made up for it by being very successful. When I write about Will Duane, the richest man in the world in my Bloodsong Series, his cronies, buddies, and neighbors, I know what I’m talking about.
My dad could have been the prototype corporate founder/CEO/captain of industry. I spent the best hours of my childhood/teen years riding my horse in Woodside, where the CEOs of almost every Silicon Valley corporation now live. I lived in Woodside for fourteen years, and in Atherton for more than that. I also hung out in Palo Alto. That’s where Steve Jobs lived, the garage where Hewlett and Packard “founded Silicon Valley” is, the fictitious Numenon International Headquarters is sited, and my husband and I resided for seven years.
Living in such neighborhoods is not all formal teas and basking by the pool. No. Rules exist. If you don’t know them, they will. The people you’re trying to get to accept you know the rules. So do their servants, their dogs, and most of the large shrubs in their gardens. Everyone indigenous to the area will know the difference between a pickle fork and a butter knife. Everyone will know that a man must wear a cummerbund with his tuxedo, that a woman who shows her bare legs under a skirt has no taste. Even worse, a woman who wears a tank top with her bra straps showing is worse than than a trollop. She’s nothing. outside the pale of civilization.
Hundreds of such rules exist, and if you came up in Atherton when I did, you had to know them if you were going to be taken seriously. Everyone I knew had had years and years of dancing lessons, cotillions, blah-dy-blahs, to prepare us to be debutantes or their escorts. Making one’s debut in society was cracked up as the highlight of a girl’s existence. Coming out in San Francisco was much more elevated than being a Peninsula deb, but, hey, who can be choosy?
Was I a debutante? No. My father was a liberal Democrat. No way he’d let me participate in expensive, upper-class puberty rites. Besides, the only “coming out” ball that really mattered in the United States was in New York. What my friends were so excited about was the the minor leagues.
Several friends were debutantes; I was invited to partake of the introductory festivities, formal teas, and such, that their parents sprang for in preparation of the Big Whammy Ball. Ask me about the time I was at a deb party on a yacht at the San Francisco yacht club and got locked into the ladies room. [Known as the "head" in some circles.] It was a potentially socially ruinous experience where the warped wood of the door stuck in the jam. I could not get it open. The only way I could escape was to raise my voice. [Known as "yelling" in some circles.] That would have been worse than spending the rest of my life locked in the head. That prospect gave me super powers and I yanked that door open like one of the X-men, escaping into the festivities beyond. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were also involved with this, as party guests.
With the influx of tech money, almost all standards of decency have disappeared. Everywhere. I cringe every time I see a woman with a spaghetti-strapped top with her bra straps blatantly showing. This is wrong.
I may sling the jive here, but if I walked into a mansion occupied by truly upper class people anywhere on the planet, I would toss off my carefully affected casual demeanor, tuck in my bra straps, and behave like Leroy is going to have to. Or will he? And why?
Will we lose our primitive, incredibly attractive Leroy, the one all of us wish our daughters would marry? Or that we’d like to marry ourselves? Will he change when exposed to an unrelenting barrage of proper English and cummerbunds?
* * *
That’s why I’m researching polo and foxhunting. Some authors torture their characters with chains and hot tongs. I prefer formal teas and golf.
Searching on-line, I’ve found a series of true gems my search for deportment and proper dress. Wonderful sources of information for the upwardly mobile, or for all those Silicon Valley geeks who are rolling in money but not culture. Or, for those who worry about suddenly finding themselves in Downton Abbey, knowing that they couldn’t qualify for the lowest housemaid position.
Here is a series of articles which will solve your problems, especially if the issues above concern you:
William Hanson, etiquette consultant, broadcaster, and social commentator, has written about the etiquette faux pas in the various episodes of Downton Abbey. I know you don’t think any exist, but they do. Mr. Hanson, I am not poking fun at your work. Readers, you may think this is unnecessary. But what if that bit of software you’re working on hits it big and you get to move to the neighborhood of your dreams? What then? There still are people who know about white and black tie and why cummerbunds matter. They know all about what Mr. Hanson discusses and they live in the neighborhoods you aspire to invade. It’s true. So suck in those bra straps and listen up:
Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 6 Tons of great info throughout, but Hanson’s commentary here is stellar, as he explains proper white tie dress. I must raise a nit. In the Chicago Manual of Style, the novelist’s bible, the very few words are upper-cased. I would rather see white tie than White Tie. But my editor may say something else.
You can find the most wonderful things by Googling. A while ago, I found Rick Mora, Native American actor, model, and activist by Googling “beautiful Native American man.” Half the image results that came up were of Rick. I shot off the famous email that started everything, and now, he’s not only on the cover of my new book, Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem, I think we’re Facebook Friends. Are we Rick?
I found William Hanson by Googling some etiquette-related topic. And I found the marvelous Black Tie Guide | A Gentleman’s Guide to Formal Wear, where you can get straightened out on the difference between proper black tie and white tie apparel. Alas, the author was critical of President Obama’s formal dress. I make it a point not to criticize heads of state, especially those who control drones.
Which brings us to the point of all this: you can rise as high as you can, be as smart as you want, and be the first of your race of sex to achieve the ultimate, but if you don’t get your cummerbund right, someone will take pot shots at you.
I point this out time and again in my writing, and I do it in large print in In Love by Christmas. Will Leroy change from the informal, manly guy we know to something like the fellow to the left?
Suave, sophisticated, properly dressed?
Lord, help us.
My, I’ve gone on. I should sell this post as a Kindle short!