I have had a very strange day. On a tip from Sean—who has been irritatingly pleasant to me ever since I had a fit of regrettable (but entirely justified) temper and publicly referred to his new ladylove as a “nasty, controlling dragon-woman”—I went to see an acquaintance of his who has some experience in the Hospitality business. I had been hoping that this gentleman (who Sean has called the preeminent expert in the field) would help me to develop a strategy for opening a second whorehouse in London to build on the success of the Crimson Unicorn. I was deeply mistaken in this hope.
When I walked into the gentleman’s home, he flashed me a smile that was eerily similar to my own Emergency Smile No. 17 (for when a new mother insists on making me look at her child), gestured to a daybed in the corner of the room, and bade me recline upon it. Not wishing to upset this eccentric—who, if Sean speaks truth, would be an exceptionally valuable business contact—I acquiesced and lay down upon the divan, at which point we engaged in the following utterly baffling conversation:
Me: I had been hoping, sir, that you would be so good as to help me solve a problem that I have.
Him: My, my. You are in much better shape than I expected after speaking with Sean. If you can admit that you have a problem, we have already taken the first, halting steps towards a cure.
Me: [stalling for time with Emergency Smile No. 3 (for halfwits)] Yes. Very good. Yes, I see that. ... Perhaps we can start by talking about “syndication”, which, as you know is all the rage amongst London merchants nowadays. What I’m trying to do …
Him: It’s very interesting that you should use the word “rage”, is it not? What made you choose that word?
Me: It’s a fad, a fashion. A trend. A method that is first practiced by thinking men who have a pragmatic need for it, then blindly followed by blithering idiots in search of a substitute for thinking.
Him: [serenely] Very interesting indeed. And how does that make you feel?
Me: [my dudgeon suddenly rising] Sir, if your intention is to waste my time, I would thank you, respectfully, to stuff it. I am a busy man, and I do not suffer fools unless I stand to make a considerable amount of money out of them.
Him: Let it out. Just let it all out.
By this point, I was so incensed that I was unable to speak at all and just sat there working my jaw muscles and blinking at the man, who was clearly either drunk or mad. After we had sat like this for some minutes, he turned to me with that same chilling smile and said, quite matter-of-factly: “We’ve made some real progress here today. Please come back at the same time next week, and tell Sean that I will take on his case pro bono. Very, very interesting indeed.”
And so I left, considerably more confused than when I had arrived, and headed back towards Hampstead, making a brief stop at Smithson’s Emporium to buy a sturdy walking stick with which to beat Sean about the head when I returned home.