Told Between Puffs, December 2017

In which our hero uses a few too many italics

As Verily took a seat at the table, he was struck by the particular ambience of the restaurant where he had been brought. It was so happening, so trendy, so ethnic. The Maître D’ and all of the waiters, and he assumed the chef as well, were unmistakably foreign—no, wait that wasn’t right, that’s not an observation one can make anymore. ‘Well, they certainly weren’t white in any case. I suppose,’ thought Verily with a hint of defeatism that perplexed even him, that just about anyone can be American these days.

The turkey tonight, he soon learned, had been prepared in a tagine, and would be accompanied by a couscous stuffing seasoned with all manner of North African spices. Initially dismayed by the departure from traditions to which he still clung with signature naivété, Verily composed himself with the aid of some Stag’s Leap, and rummaged in his vast reserves of conceit for a salient remark. Isn’t the cosmopolitanism on display here so remarkable and overwhelming, he remarked to his companions, isn’t it just so divine to live in New York and witness the fusion of cultures on such a visceral, sensory, holistic level? He looked expectantly at the lovely Ms. Henrietta Ingram, whose illustrious family were his gracious hosts on this night, and she seemed to attempt a half nod in his general direction.

Her brother, Richardson Ingram III (known affectionately as ‘Triple Dicky’ to his friends and colleagues), who had been Verily’s supervisor at Morgan Stanley over the summer, and who clearly felt empowered by his role in the decision to extend a full time offer to our young hero, scoffed. You are, he said, pointing his greasy knife at Verily, the personification of an in-flight magazine: very good at presenting a semblance of knowledge and refinement but in fact a culturally destitute fraud trying to sell me something. This comment, vicious as it was, drew an indiscreet guffaw from Richardson Ingram II (‘Double Dicky’), a tacit and ample man who did not sit in a chair so much as fold himself into it.

“That is,” began Verily, spearing a large hunk of turkey with his fork as if to refute their performative masculinities with his own, “such a foul thing to say.” This elicited a reaction from Mrs. Ingram (she was mo n o n ymo u s , like Plato and Ronaldinho), who smiled with her thin lips in the same way, thought Verily, that an au courant serial killer smiles when they have succeeded in fashioning the entrails of their latest victim into a headdress or some other chic accessory. The intervention of this fearsome and dignified woman defused the tension, and the revelry recommenced.

After a hazy series of events that precipitated a return to the Ingram abode in Scarsdale, Verily was finally able to bond with the men over schnapps when, reserves of confidence replenished by copious liquid fortification, he waded into a heated conversation between the two generations of financiers about the general tendency towards inefficiency in the developing world. “The only humanitarian intervention I’d support,” said Verily, drunk, “is one that goes in there,” and he motioned with his hands to emphasize the penetration he envisioned, and runs their factories for them.” All three beamed; it was a funny one. Everyone is a closeted Republican until they turn 65.

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