In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

How Patrick Henry Speaks to Me From Beyond The Grave: By Text Message

This is my Colonial Boyfriend, Patrick Henry. He kept his first wife in the attic. She was crazy.

I am not kidding. Many years ago I taught in a civic education program called Close Up. High school students came from all over the country to spend a week in Washington. If Congress wasn't in session we had to do something else -- so usually we went to Colonial Williamsburg, which I once told the kids is like Disney World without the rides. This is a rather a stretch, but it worked to get them on the bus.

Anyway: We were upstairs in parliament or whatever they called it, where the above painting (and many others) hang. I was guarding the stairwell so the kids couldn't sneak out, because you know they would. I once found a bunch of kids at midnight up the street from their hotel playing video games in a local bar. Brazen!

My mind was wandering a bit because I had already heard the spiel from the historical interpreter 18 times (this is not an exaggeration. I went to CW 19 times, 20 if you count with my family when I was little. It is a wonderful and annoying place, wherein if you see George Wythe -- a historical interpreter playing him, anyway -- and you try to get your kids interested in talking to him by saying "Mister Wythe! Tell us about young Thomas Jefferson!" because he was TJ's teacher and mentor and the kids at least know who TJ is, George Wythe will say "I know not of Thomas Jefferson" and you want to kill him, because he's pretending like it's 1750 or something, and Tom hasn't arrived at William and Mary yet. )

(George Wythe would later go on to be killed by his nephew I believe -- poisoned -- and the nephew got off scot-free because the only witness was Lydia Broadnax, a female slave, and they wouldn't let her testify against a white man. Serves all those bastards right.)

So back to the upper house: the docent is talking about the paintings, my mind is wandering, and someone whispers in my right ear "Listen to this" just as the docent turned to the above Patrick Henry portrait. I turned around to see who had snuck up behind me and there was no one there -- no on the landing, not down the stairs, not up the stairs. Clearly Patrick Henry, my Colonial boyfriend, who didn't want me missing the talk about him. I like the little glasses he wears.

Fast forward to Wednesday. The Boyfriend and I go back to CW to talk to a class at William & Mary about writing. We were in the Wren building, which dates back to I think the early 1700s. Oldest building on campus, where all of our Virginia forefathers attended class.

Class is just about to begin so I reach into my purse to silence my phone. The screen is on to text message. I had not locked my phone so it is being purse-dialed. And what was the word on the screen?


It was either Patrick Henry, who has learned how to text and remains concerned about our British overlords, or 1000 Monkeys typing Hamlet who accidentally hacked into my phone. In any case, I am like Jennifer Love Hewitt but without the terrible Victorian nightgowns or overly dramatic eye makeup.

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