Your Guardian, Angela

Published in the The MacGuffin Volume XXVIII No. 3 Spring/Summer 2012

Ted swaggers down the aisle, accompanied by a drum roll, packed into his bespoke suit like a sausage—coarse man, proving you certainly can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. He leaves a reeking cloud of Brut in his wake. My agent Carson says to keep Ted happy; he owns every paper my column appears in. He doesn’t own me, I remind Carson. Who smirks – irritating, irritating man. But aren’t they all.

Another drum roll as Ted struts to the podium. Such theatrics! You’d think we’d gathered for the Emmys or the Oscars. I had half a mind to boycott this entire circus, refuse to be nominated. Refuse to attend. 

Carson said absence would be commercial suicide. I don’t care about commerce, I told him, ready to take a stand, fall on my sword. I’m a writer, a professional Advice Columnist, in case you’ve forgotten. 

He warned me if I opted out it would be bad form, look as though I was upset over not winning last year. At least he made no mention of the year before, and all the years before. 

“You know I’m not a bad sport,” I told him. “I’ll be there.”

Though I’ve never complained about being passed over, last year was an especially Bitter Pill, I’ll admit it. Humiliating, bested by that young flashy flibbertigibbet who styles herself a “Specialist in Workplace Advice.” 

I pride myself on my credentials as a Generalist. Good, classic pearls of wisdom go with any ensemble—in the home or the marketplace. I refuse to be pigeon-holed into etiquette or parenting or household tips. I choose to offer a listening ear and wise counsel for all the big and small dilemmas of life. And my columns, if I do say so, exemplify the subtlety required in the profession. Perhaps I make it look too easy, like any real artist. Tone is paramount: direct but not bossy, wise but not righteous, sensitive but not emotional, morally grounded but 
not censorious, tolerant but not permissive, experienced but not jaded. Well, I could go on. Anyway, delicacy required. No one likes a finger shaker, a breast beater. I aim for Moderation and The High Road. As I always tell my readership, An Apology doesn’t mean you’re wrong, just that you value Courtesy more than Ego. 

No, I NEVER complained about being passed over. Life isn’t fair, as I tell my readers in one of my very most popular, oft reprinted and anthologized columns. How you handle injustice is a true measure of 

And tonight, whatever the outcome, I will neither gloat nor pout. A true Lady – and I’m one, representative of a Dying Breed – never looks like she’s swallowed a canary, nor tasted sour grapes. 

Oh, goodness! Now there’s a whole chorus line of dancers – in white gloves and hats with veils – shimmying across the stage. It almost makes me feel like they’re poking fun at my trademark gloves and hat, though that would be to take it too personally, of course. It’s not always about you, as I remind my readers.

“Good evening, Ladies and Gentleman!” Ted’s face, slathered in makeup, looks leathery and grotesque, projected on the screens above the proscenium. I insisted on doing my own foundation, rouge, dusting of powder and red lipstick. I want to look like myself when I’m magnified and multiplied up on the big screen, accepting my award (Think positive!! as I tell my readers.) And I’m dressed for the occasion. Carson argued for a velvet pant suit – but what does he know!? I’m not an Anglophile, but in my book Queen Elizabeth exemplifies how one should dress and carry herself in the public eye, and I’ve taken cues from her for – well, quite a few years. Real ladies, like Elizabeth and me, wear gowns to formal occasions. 

Who knows – the Queen might be watching! I’m sure she reads me. The event is being broadcast on network television and beamed around the world on the Internet, according to Carson. All my readers know I disapprove of excessive, instantaneous telecommunication. But there are exceptions and tonight might be one. And I did tell Carson just the other day I was considering getting a fax machine, as he’s suggested in the past. He laughed! He told me faxes are passé! Now he’s nagging me to learn to use a computer, to scan and email. To Tweet and Twitter. Well, I refuse. I simply refuse to take on short-lived fads – what’s happened with faxes just proves my point. 

“Tonight we gather for the 25th Annual Beeton Awards Ceremony! Tonight we crown the Champion of Advice in honor of Isabella Beeton!” Ted grins and preens. 

Really, champion conveys entirely the wrong message. As though this were some sort of athletic event, a boxing ring title. Typical Ted – cheap, so demeaning. Class will tell, I’m sorry to say, and it’s no secret 
he’s from a very Dirty Blue Collar background no matter how many gazillions he’s made. And you only need to look at his wife – number five or six. Gaudy would be an understatement for what she’s wearing 
tonight, skin-tight sequins, slit up the side. Not to mention the neckline – or lack of one. Arm candy, I’ve heard her called: a vulgar expression but undeniably apt.

“And now, a big round of applause for all our illustrious nominees!”

Oh, goodness – that’s me up on the screen. And I do look elegant, I must say. I searched and searched for these replacement frames when I lost my glasses – retro, the clerk called them. My Winged Victory Spectacles, I call them – just a sprinkle of tiny rhinestones on the earpieces, the flaring brow piece. Since the cataract surgery I don’t really even need glasses – but I feel naked without them. Treat your glasses as a fashion accessory, I’ve been counseling my readership for years. I would no more go out into the world without my glasses than skip jewelry and lipstick. 

I disappear from the screen, replaced by The Car Boys who mug and wave. Disgraceful – the Beeton Academy permits just anyone at all to be nominated now. Carson tells me it is the principle of Inclusivity. 

Well, I say it’s ridiculous and reflects a lower and lower common denominator. Common being the operative word.

It’s an Equal Opportunity world, he says. 

Now Heloise the Younger is up on the screen—really, that hair. If her mother were alive she’d set her straight! I do miss her mother – a real lady.

Oh, look at Chatty Cathy. What in the world is she wearing? A nightgown? A slip? She’s the darling of the tabloids and totally inappropriate. Wouldn’t you know it—she’s brought that daughter with her—shameless. She flaunts being a single mother! Sets a bad example for all her readers. Carson tells me her numbers are astronomical. He says she tweets and blogs and I should, too, to remain competitive. I remind him a Lady never competes. And that I certainly don’t have time for such gimmicks. A Writer writes.

Those infernal drum rolls again, and the chorus line vamps across the stage. One girl simpers up to Ted holding out a huge gold envelope. How tacky.

Ted is opening The Envelope. 

In spite of everything, in spite of what a circus this has become – I want to win so badly I can taste it. And it tastes like the very best martini – my favorite drink, another classic that simply cannot be improved 
upon – so long as it’s made by the right hands.

“And the Beeton goes to…