Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dandy Rumble

After the dust had settled, the street was a heap of torn britches, ripped songbooks, and crumpled innocence. A pleasantly harmonized chorus of groans -- mostly in falsetto -- filled the air. In the distance, one could hear sharp cries of "That was cracking!" "Smashing good joust that was!" "Oh, I'm not worried, Father will clean up any unpleasantness!"

The city was San Francisco. The night was New Year's Eve. The happenstance was the worst dandy rumble since the Princeton polo team crossed swords with members of the fearsome Barrington C.C. of Arlington, Va.: a group of San Francisco prep-school boys had laid waste to the famed Yale vocal group the Baker's Dozen.

The cause of the conflagration is still unclear. It's certainly not, as the cheeky Times of Los Angeles put it, "maybe over women, maybe over beer." No, the root was likely something deeper, something more purple: A crack about SAT scores? A comparison to the Nylons? Like the first shot at Lexington, it's lost to the mists of time. All we know is that, as 2006 was passing the baton to 2007, there was slapping and scratching on the streets San Francisco.

As members of workaday society, we'll never be able to understand the machinations of the rich and dandy. These swells speak their own language and abide by their own code of conduct. Like the Pashtun of Afghanistan, once dishonor has befallen one of them, revenge must be meted out -- the only difference coming in the choice of weaponry: the Pashtun employ the gun and knife, the dandy, the spaghetti-elbow smack.

So as you pack your lunchbox tomorrow, remember to keep eyes averted at first glance of a blue blazer. You never know when you may encounter the wrath of high society.

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