Nearing the end of lunch, I think of how to stick my companion with the check. Were he employed, I would try: "This can go your expense account. We did talk a little business. Wink, wink."
Given the recession and the skill sets of my friends, opportunities to employ this gambit are increasingly scarce.
My second choice is: "I think it’s your turn. I’ll get the next one." This works for the first lunch and often for the second and third. Having used it seven straight times with my present companion, I decided to change tactics and employ The Quote Gambit. When he pulled out a credit card and asked if I wanted to split the check, I replied:
As Helena says in All's Well That Ends Well:
Oft expectation fails, and most oft there/Where most it promises; and oft it hits/Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.
The astounding irrelevancy of this quote unnerved him. A Seattle native imprinted with culture of the nice, he wondered if he had offended me and quickly paid the bill.
When I’m in a fix and unable to construct a good lie, I often use the quote ruse. When I butt into a line and someone shouts, “Hey jerk, wait in line,” I may respond: "As the Marquis de Vauvenargues explained, 'We danced the minuet because we knew how.'" Being not germane and meaningless, this quote usually reduces opponents to muttering “asshole” or “dipshit.” To enhance discomfort, I may restate the quote entirely in French: Nous avons dansé le menuet parce que nous savions comment.
The above quote is fictional. I enjoy making up quotes. I attribute them to historical figures — people one is vaguely aware of and embarrassed for not knowing more. I find actors in the French Revolution — Danton, Brissot, Desmoulins, St. Just, Hébert, and Fouquier-Tinville meet this requirement. So do in 11th century Popes named Leo, Gregory, or John; and 11th century Emperors named Otto, Conrad, and Henry.
When golfing, I enjoy conceding myself six-foot puts. I am frequently asked just what just what in hell I think I am doing. I rotate between two answers:
“As Pope Gregory VII said to the Emperor Conrad III: ‘Concern with the superficial affairs of this world will never satisfy the soul. You see mysteries you do not understand and condemn them as sin. Forget these trivialities and seek the higher truth of a different realm.’”
Or: “As Danton said to Fouquier-Tinville: ‘Faites de tels triffles méritent le Guillitoine?’”
Then, with insouciance, I place my golf ball in my pocket and stroll to the next tee.
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