Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
Relax, big spender, we want your knowledge, not your credit card info. If you know about something you think we should know about, let us know (so we can then pretend that we knew about it all along.) Send a tip.
It's been a week since Paul Fussell died and we've mourned the best way we know how: by re-reading Class for what we believe is either the 30th or 31st time since its publication in 1983 (we read it at least once a year). No, obit writers, Fussell's masterpiece is not The Great War and Modern Memory, which won the National Book Award in 1976 and we're convinced is a very good book; it's Class, his sagacious, hilarious examination of social class in America.
We think so highly of this book that we've made it required reading for family, any prospective SO, even for prospective acquaintances with whom interactions have gone beyond "hi." If you receive this book as a gift from us — and we gift it often — consider it an invitation to a club where "What would Fussell say?" is the secret handshake.
For the rest of the week we're pulling our favorite bits from Class because, well, it helps us deal with this loss.
Fussell on elite male and female looks in the U.S.:
It requires women to be thin, with a hairstyle dating back eighteen or twenty years or so. (The classiest women wear their hair for a lifetime in exactly the style they affected in college.) They wear superbly fitting dresses and expensive but always understated shoes and handbags, with very little jewelry. They wear scarves—these instantly betoken class, because they are useless except as a caste mark. Men should be thin. No jewelry at all. No cigarette case. Moderate-length hair, never dyed or tinted, which is a middle-class or high-prole sign, as the practice of President Reagan indicates. Never a hairpiece, a prole usage. (High and mid-proles call them rugs, mats, or doilies. Calling them toops is low-prole. Both women's and men's elite looks are achieved by a process of rejection—of the current, the showy, the superfluous. Thus the rejection of fat by the elite.