As we drive to school Thursday, my oldest makes this declaration, “I want a butler. And he has to have a cool butler name.” So we banter around about the name of our imaginary butler and we settle on Reginald Foxworthy. And like any good servant, Foxworthy will perfectly anticipate our needs, be waiting pleasantly with exactly what we need or want. He will be deferential and the consummate best man. I think of the man who filled Mr. Darcy’s giant copper tub so he could bathe. But I love the fact that my sons can appreciate the fine idea of having someone who attends to them, even if imaginary. It is not a desire for wealth or position, it is the idea that another person knows them well enough to take care of them and to do it without instruction.
When you feel like you may crawl out of you skin with agitation, it would be perfect to have Hill at your beck and call like Mrs. Bennett. And oh, to retire to your room until the nerves pass, Hill bringing tea and anything else that would calm the hysteria. But when there are no histrionics, Hill and Mr. Foxworthy pamper you like a member of the gentility. They wake you with a morning fire. They have breakfast ready or even bring it to your bed chamber. Tea appears at 3 in the afternoon with scones and clotted cream. The carriage arrives with all your needs for the gaming excursion. When you return, you simply walk into your home and other people collect the day’s kill, pluck the feathers and prepare dinner. They clean the guns and return them to the gun safe. Believably, someone in the lower house counts the knives and forks, lest a lower servant or questionable guest pilfer the silver. Such were the days of the gentrified life.
In the year of our Lord 2011, the gentry might as well be displayed with the other taxidermy. For all our wealth and affluence (and in this country, even the lower middle class is wealthy compared to the serfs and servants of the 1800s), we have lost so much of the leisure and pleasure in life. We are slaves to time and consumption.
Lesson #5 Ask Foxworthy: You must pamper yourself. You have to believe you deserve, nay have earned, the position to have a man servant or lady. And that you can, with absolute petulance, with the shrill histrionics of a woman feigning the vapors, call for their help and get it. You just have to IMAGINE that they come and then do for yourself exactly what you want. WANT! Not need. WANT! If you want to just crawl into bed and nap. Do it. If you want those delicate lace panties and bra, buy them. If you want the $8 wedge of artisan cheddar, buy it and get that small boule of rosemary bread to go with. If you want your hair brushed 100 times, sit and do it and enjoy the sensation. Paint your toes or better yet, go to the salon and get the $50 pedicure. Skip something else to make the butler and handmaid moments happen. Life is too full of drudgery and monotony to be bearable. If fresh cut flowers are too extravagant, plant blooming flowers in your yard. The seasonal surprise they offer mean you grow your own fresh cut flowers.
Fill your life with opportunities for beauty and leisure and pleasure and make haste. Make haste so you can get to those experiences. They should be the goal for which you do the other as opposed to the reward for having done the other. Place your desires and dreams ahead of your obligations. And just trust that Reginald Foxworthy will make it happen. He is in you. He knows what you want and exactly when you want it. Like any great servant he knows what you need BEFORE you know yourself. And it is perfectly acceptable for you to shriek for Hill…you are the Lady of the Manor.