Death of the Nobleman
A wise man once told me that nobility has nothing to do with the family one is born into and everything to do with character. He defined a nobleman as “someone who leaves people and situations as well as he found them or better.” If anyone knew how to define this vestige from the past, this man did; he could trace his French lineage back to the ninth century.
As I listen to the horror stories my daughter, Devon, regularly recounts to me of her experiences on the LA dating circuit, I often think of this man. For, as elegant as he was witty, as cultured as he was intelligent, he was also my husband for forty years.
Our daughter is gorgeous. Five-foot seven, weighing 120 pounds, with alabaster skin, crystal blue eyes, and legs that rise to her neck, she is also intelligent, ambitious . . . and about to give up on her belief in the nobleman described to her by her father: a man who, at the very least, knows better than to lie about his social position, economic status, family origins and objectives, in his quest to find a woman who will stand by him.
“Why can’t I find someone like Dad?” Devon lamented to me not long ago. “Was he the last of a dying breed?”
That day, she was particularly discouraged by a recent dot-com rendezvous with an LA “film director” who claimed to hail from the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock. Although he was a bit wide around the girth, my daughter doesn’t discriminate based upon looks—at least, to a degree. Besides, the middle-aged scoundrel in question had a pleasant smile, twinkling eyes, and an amiable nature. He also had a decidedly mytho-maniacal bent—one that left him spinning yarns that would have Pinocchio blushing. Upon arriving in LA while still in his early twenties, he told my daughter he just happened to hook up with Brad Pitt who, strapped for cash before achieving ultimate success, had “roomed” with him for a couple of years. According to this modern-day Gatsby, in spirit if not in form, he had also become “a great friend of Will Smith’s” as well as a bevy of other Hollywood notables. It took Devon all of three dates to catch on to this fabulist; yet, having been deceived on a couple of occasions by others like him, she just chalked the episode off to the numbers game women, seemingly, have to endure to find Mr. Right.
But her experience left me perturbed. How have we moved from a world where a man’s word was his bond—the evidence of his honor—to one where his need to “win” justifies any means employed in order to do so? And, why do these men think that women today are so dumb that they won’t see through their tapestry of lies . . . quickly?
It used to be, in close-knit European societies, that gossip served a purpose. Women regularly engaged in it—not because they were catty or vicious, or saw it as some form of perverse entertainment, but because, in doing so, they were given the chance to warn other women of perceived male predators: Lotharios with less than honorable intentions. These same men, once proven to be of ignoble character, systematically were banned by women of standing from attendance in their salons—a penalty similar to death, at least, economically speaking, as the great salons of Europe served as the lieu de rencontre where lucrative business deals could be explored with other “gentlemen” and, eventually, agreed upon with no more than a handshake. Thus, a reputable woman’s seal of approval of a man’s character, as evidenced by the extension of her invitation to mingle, served as a triple-A rating of the businessman’s dependability and trustworthiness. No wonder women were placed upon a pedestal.
To alleviate the everyday stress of LA life, Devon spends a fair amount of time each week at Burke Williams where, relaxing in the sauna, she is given the opportunity to listen to the dating disasters of other young women.
“The last guy I went out with,” a spa acquaintance recently told her, as they sat sweating out their pent-up frustrations, “actually told me that he was a multi-millionaire and was going to buy me a condo in Malibu. It turns out his ‘millions’ are invested in junk penny stocks—in Russia, no less, and they can’t be sold. There’s no market for them.”
“So, did you dump him for lying to you?” Devon asked.
“Not until he gave me some line about being best buddies with Brad Pitt and Will Smith,” she laughed. “Can you believe it?”
The author is a writer presently seeking a literary agent for the memoir of her forty-year love affair with her husband. To read excerpts from the manuscript, click on the photo of the Dust Jacket, below