As the countdown to 2023 ticked away, wanting to usher in the midnight revelries ‘with a bang’ took on many interesting connotations around town. Numerous were the lovely events organized by not only the hotels but also restaurants, bars and gathering points. House parties were organized, and Chefs pulled out all the stops in creating, inventing, and re-inventing fabulous items which made for seemingly endless varieties of gastronomical goodies to be on offer to suit every possible palette. How lovely this all was, and how truly exciting to see so many folks ready to dust off the old and welcome the new. It is when the ‘with a bang’ gets literal, that quizzical frowns cross our brows and unbridled laughter follows.
As I have said in past articles, we have had men from all societies, nations, and backgrounds who have indulged in a little bit of ‘slap and tickle’ on the side, and these dalliances are simply the result of bubbling friskiness that just warrants a smirk, and a side-ways glance of disapproval. As my wonderfully astute Psychology teacher at FIDM so eloquently put it, “most men grow out of puberty at death!” This very same ‘pubescent itch’ that can so easily be overlooked when within ‘actual puberty,’ becomes increasingly distasteful as the chronological years go by, and the itch just seems to escalate into an outright ‘scratch.’ Marriage in many a society is a just a suggestion of fidelity and having a mistress or two for one’s ‘side cardio’ is not usually considered a big deal. It is of course expected that, as part of structured society, certain proprieties are adhered to, and behavioral boundaries respected and maintained. From the mythologically infused courts of Babylon to the ancient Egyptians, to the Middle Ages in dark dank Europe, to the Renaissance and the duplicitous courts of 18th century Versailles, Men of any intelligence knew how to keep mistresses and wives ‘separate.’ One does not ever mistake the role of mistress for the role of wife and at the same time never did the ‘wife’ look to downgrade herself into the role of someone’s ‘mistress.’ Queen Maria Therese of France was ‘Queen of France,’ and as much as it may have irked her to see the endless parade of pretty faces prance in and out of the boudoir of her husband King Louis XIV, she never forgot that her status was elevated by birth, marriage and thus rank. She would not demean herself by even letting the perfumed air around her waft in the direction of Madame de Montespan, or any of the other ‘official Mistresses’ that Louis maintained. The King also had the sense to know that the Queen was, is and always would be “The Queen” and no passing fancy could prove a hindrance to the same. This same ‘unspoken code of conduct’ was maintained in all social ranks, nations, and hierarchies. This after all, is what kept the peace and stopped wives from going on many a murderous rampage!
Cut to the here and now and to say that the boundaries that kept a sense of decorum and refinement have been blurred, is an understatement. The boundaries resemble Hadrian’s wall in England after the marauding hordes had rampaged. They have been left in ruins! We see men, and not just the self-titled ‘great and grand,’ but men of all societies channeling their worst inner jugglers as they try to seemingly juggle the many women in their lives while walking the precarious tight rope of ‘life.’ From trying to have the double, and sometimes triple ‘families’, with multiple ‘matching’ lifestyles, to attempting to have wife and mistress at the same event, to having the same vendors supply to both, the distasteful disrespectful disasters always seem on the ‘brink’ of marvelously monumental meltdowns. We have of course been witness to some of these ‘mock horror hilarities’ where the mistress is peeved at not being in the ‘seat of honor’ at a gala event, and decides to publicly beat the offending man, much to the amusement of his wife, to the wife accosting the husband and his mistress at the airport resulting in a wonderfully raucous exchange of words followed by a beating, to a mistress ‘catching’ the offending man ‘in a lie’ at a dinner with his wife and family, and again a superb slanderous exchange of words taking place. The entertainments certainly never seem to cease. Add in the sheer ‘greed’ of the men who want to have the wife, the mistress and the added distraction of concubines? These are men coveting the worst possible torturous fates.
Most men can barely manage to get by with the simplest of white lies without being caught and subjected to ridicule and a loathsome ‘time out’ for their misdeeds. Throw in the ‘flutter of floozies’, the most-vapid and shall we say ‘least cerebrally endowed’ of the bunch, and the ticking time-bomb just goes into double time! These ‘side dishes’ would be with a man for a free club membership, a handbag, and pair of shoes, a paid utility bill, or even a free meal. Never shall they be upgraded to mistress and never would they ever leap-frog to wife. They are satisfied to offer horizontal entertainments simply for the simplest of material gifts. To use a simple jewelry analogy to clarify their places in the scheme of things, the wives get Cartier and Bvlgari, the mistresses get some ‘no name’ albeit beautiful jewelry pieces and the floozies get some trinkets from the Pettah pavement! Also, a minor note to keep in mind is that the men who think they are ‘players’ are usually the worst at the game, and if the man who cannot balance his own bank account tries to balance multiple dalliances, well, more entertainments for us to sit back and enjoy!
The past few years have been a literal rollercoaster ride for all of us, and it seems like we have become somewhat immune to the predicaments that have seemingly thrown us around. Welcoming 2023 with unabashed positivity has been the goal of many. This is to be applauded as it is always a wonderful sequence of events when we bid adieu to the previous year and look with renewed hope towards the dawning year. Let us also look at the new year with new clarity and ask that people simply have some sense of propriety, some level of respect, so that the journey we are all on together is one of mutual upliftment, ensconced in collective happiness and well-being.