I meet the Ultimate Gentleman at his 1-story, 1-room “evening shack” in Minsk. The room contains one large, circular couch, a black marble fireplace, and a dominating painting of an older man wearing military garb.
“Is that a relation of yours?” I ask, pointing.
The Ultimate Gentleman pinches my out-stretched finger and gently pushes it back into my fist, then spreads my hand palm down and lowers my arm to hip height. I am immediately aware of how much more graceful I look positioned in this way. Somehow the correction comes off as both empathetic and appropriate.
Satisfied, my host responds.”Oh, yes. Ducky we called him. My Great-Uncle; won a war or two. Fine fellow. But a little, shall we say..dunnish? ”
The Ultimate Gentleman winks slyly and I feel myself winking in return multiple times, frantically trying to google in my pocket what ‘dunnish’ means. Little did I notice that while I had been blinding myself with winks my host had subtly opened an Oxford Dictionary of Slang to the “Dunnish” page and left it by my shoes.
“Dunnish, adjective: janny; characteristic of a gupster.”
Well, that doesn’t help much. Yet, again, I feel my sense of inadequacy leave me as the Ultimate Gentleman nods imperceptibly at a slender butler, who takes out a laptop and somehow pulls up what looks to be my very best college essay. If I could choose one thing to be judged on, this would be it.
The Ultimate Gentleman appears surprised to find the essay in front of him, but begins reading with gusto.
“Ooh, spot on!”, “Yes, quite!” he nods furiously, face flushed with pleasure. The butler has silently begun to massage my earlobes, slipping me a picture of him nuzzling his long-term girlfriend to assure me of his heterosexuality. This is my home. Finally, I am cared for.
Suddenly springing up from the laptop, my host beams at me. “I do declare- never have I had the honor of so fine a writer under my roof! Please, a little pre-dinner duel to celebrate your company!”
Somehow sabers are in both of our hands and almost instantaneously I feel a hot-flash in my stomach. Twisting my head around I see a little bit of steel peeking out of my back.
“You’ve been run-through, old boy!” the Ultimate Gentleman declares chuckling, and graciously giving himself the same, making sure to push the sword twice as far in himself while turning on a ceiling TV to distract me from the sight.
“Friends”: a choice nobody can object to. Pleasing and tasteful, but unpretentious. I watch the ever beautiful Rachel Green give an impish smile to a flustered Gunther as the Ultimate Gentleman silently punctures his lower intestine.
A little bell tinkles from the underground servant quarters, signaling us to dinner on the roof. We are served a sort of Belgian soup which contains all the nutrients you lose from a stomach wound.
“Just keep eating this fine soup” my host assures me, ” and a scab will form in no time.”
I want to believe him, and I do.
Because somewhere along the line I have been given a gilded rhino cub as a party-favor.