March 23, 2015

The Tone of Diplomacy

A new museum devoted to American Diplomacy is under development by the US Department of State.
No indication yet of what role GSL will have.

When I was serving overseas in Iraq, one day I was called in and informed that a reassignment I had long sought was finally approved and to pack up and be ready to move out in 2 hours. Naturally, I was curious as to why this had happened so suddenly and with a tone so urgent.  I then found out that the unit I was being reassigned to had a reputation for 'problems' with lots of rumors swirling about as to the particular kind of indiscretions causing great unease up the chain of command. Since I'd be more than twice as old as nearly everybody else in the group I was joining, they wanted me to provide Adult Supervision which was very well understood by those in my new unit. I never found out exactly what the problems had been, nor was I eager to investigate, but they went away to the great relief of the higher ups and almost everyone in the group I joined.

This may surprise many of you but the occasionally irascible GSL is actually well known for his diplomatic skills often smoothing over disagreements, repairing burned bridges, and building others. And as some of you ladies already know, GSL is an absolute master at handling the female psyche.

Japanese businessmen in town crooning the newest local hit while affecting Chicago swagger.

The Den has become aware of a new trend among Japanese businessmen visiting town that after knocking back a couple of whiskys, charge to the karaoke mic and affect Chicago swagger while crooning to the melody of that Kenny Rogers ditty only with lyrics modified for local appeal with a portion of the chorus below:

                                                      GSL knows when to hold 'em, 
                                                      knows when to scold 'em, 
                                                      knows when to sweet talk bouquet, 
                                                      knows when to pun...
We are told these raucous singalongs have become quite a spectacle all over town.

The Indomitable Miss Havisham of GSL's life is actually warm and generous but sadly
enduring some health issues and now in residence at my Estella's.
 Fur will fly.

In other developments, Den staff have been preparing for a possible diplomatic mission to bring peace to the Middle East or more specifically Middle Eastern North Carolina where my Estella has a new permanent house guest in the form of her much adored (by GSL) mother aka Miss Havisham whose health and strength may be weakening but her spirit and zest for life remains undeterred with my Estella now finding herself in the position of being Miss Havisham's personal assistant, events director, and legal guardian...except on Tuesdays or Thursdays when a quick little intercontinental trip seems a wonderful idea for a woman who can't walk or remember any of the important instructions doctors gave and she agreed to only hours before.  We all likely will have or have faced these situations with loved ones and try to do our best and GSL has often served as a peace broker, go-between, and feather unruffler between these two and his services may soon be needed again.

My Estella has a new house guest. Estella is not a natural hostess. Trouble will follow.

I have told Estella no matter how frustrating or looney tunes crazy her mother may sometimes seem, please, please, please, don't use The Tone. Only ISIS is worthy of The Tone.  Every woman has that Tone they use whenever they are expressing displeasure, or more often I find, settling a score all while saying something that seems perfectly reasonable if one were looking at a transcript which they then repeat back to you and whether it be moments, hours, or days later is done in that lovely tone she only uses in an exculpatory context.

Estella can deliver The Tone like no other with a lilt of derision so debilitating another Geneva Convention may ban its use against civilians.

In fact, Estella's tessitura is The Tone she often deploys for dismissing  over-eager shopgirls delivered with withering efficiency without the slightest pretense towards eye contact. Overcharging contractors and repairmen get the eye contact in a stare so cold it can only be measured on the Kelvin scale.  Estella came by this skill honestly as I did witness her mother summon a funeral home director minutes after receiving a bill they are so often used to sneaking by grieving widows and saw his phony Southern Baptist condescending demeanor vaporized before my very eyes before reducing his ridiculous fee by 40% and scurrying out the door with his ass in a sling.

Ladies, when do you use The Tone?


  1. I already knew I that I liked your Estella but now she's my role model. Of course my rascals get The Tone and rightly so those little devils. Also MrBP but only due to his own highly irritating behaviour such as leaving dirty clothes everywhere as though he lived with a staff of thousands, or most memorably when he drops his kindle on the floor while falling asleep next me cozily readily, waking me with an adrenaline shock that brings on the nocturnal Tone, the worst kind I'm sure we can all agree.
    With your history as a soldier I'm not surprised one bit that you are an excellent diplomat. I'm sure Estella will be very grateful for your help.xo

    1. Oh Dani, I'll bet your Nocturnal Tone would have Freddy Kruger heading for the hills!

  2. Hmmm, I use The Tone usually when I finally say "that's enough", usually all it takes. Estella will need you, never easy to become a care giver. A lot of the frustration masks the sadness. Take care.

    1. T, I'm sure the timbre and pitch of your "that's enough" tone has Hunter backpedaling and readying a white flag.

  3. Oh GSL, another post that makes me laugh. I am not at all surprised that you are a good diplomat. I vote we give John Kerry the boot and install you as Secretary of State. As for The Tone, hmm, a terrible combination of being 45 and having lived for nearly 20 years in NYC (over 10 of them in Brooklyn) has meant that I forgo The Tone and head straight to, "Are you kidding me?" I say it really loud these days too. I just used it at the Brooklyn Museum yesterday afternoon on a lady who knocked into my young daughter and kept on walking. I also gave her The Stare. She's lucky I had my child with me or I would've gone straight into Brooklyn Battle-axe Mode, deploying the great Brooklyn accent I can now do on command! Ha. Oh God I am so glad I grew up as a military child, it is serving me so well now! XO, Jill

    1. Jill my dear you are so right regarding moving out and about in NYC as The Tone easily dissipates in the everyday rudeness of public interactions. The Tone is only effective in close quarters amongst otherwise polite society.
      Shame on that rude lady at the Brooklyn Museum for bumping your daughter and not immediately apologizing.
      I'd like to ride shotgun with you through Park Slope in your Brooklyn Battle Axe Mode...I'm thinking we'd look like a couple of Mad Max Thunderdome toughs in motorcycle with sidecar looking to open up a can on Spike Lee.

  4. I use the tone when the recipient deserves it. In conjunction with 'the look' it is enough to stop most offenders in their tracks. I think a lot of men like being the recipient of such attention and derive an erotic frisson from being admonished in this way. In fact, I think a lot of men simply love being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Maybe that's why so many do end up joining the armed forces because it's a seemingly legitimate way to experience extreme obedience while being dominated and humiliated by both their peers and superiors. (Pure conjecture - I'm a strong supporter of people who do dangerous/unpleasant jobs the rest of us can't or won't do). So, GSL do you feel a naughty little tingle when you're on the receiving end of a good tongue-lashing? Do share! Claire

    1. My dear beguiling Claire, you are oh so right on the personality type of those careerists in the Army as so many do actually love the regimentation, all the drill and ceremony nonsense, and this supposed "Art of the Ass Chewing". Growing up in the late 1970s and 1980s unless you had a father in the military, you didn't even give a military career a passing thought if you had a lot going for you as the Cold War meant that there would be no more fields of battle as a rite of passage where boys could go 'make their bones' as a man.
      It's no accident that America's 2 greatest Generals: Washington and Grant hated being in the Army so their energies were focused on WINNING quickly and going home rather than luxuriating in the trappings of lofty rank. General Washington's Army was an unorganized ragtag bunch and he placed men of ability where they could be of greatest benefit therefore a 19yo Alexander Hamilton (GSL's fav Founding Father btw) was plucked from among the ranks and made GW's de facto Chief of Staff based on his towering intellect and obvious abilities. Losing back then meant you were executed by firing squad (if you lived through battle) and your wives and daughters were likely to be at least raped which are strong incentives to focus on matters relevant to winning.
      Because I was the oldest ever new enlistee paratrooper, I was never on the receiving end of those "ass-chewings" made famous and often imitated from movies with everybody able to recite all the colourful lines from Full Metal Jacket that was actually ad-libbed by a decorated Marine Sargeant, R, Lee Ermey that all sergeants poach their material from. You almost never hear anything clever and original.
      I've never been on the receiving end of a good tongue lashing but have been seeking out worthy adversaries all my life and my dear beguiling Claire, as you rightly suspect, a shapely female who can even return fire does give me a naughty tingle...

  5. I don't think I've ever mastered a 'tone' per se, but I do use words to the same effect. Faced with situations of unmitigated nitwittery I am more Hugh Laurie's Dr House than Der Holle Rache
    (mind you, I would love to be able to sing like this:)

    1. Bravo Bebe,
      I shall henceforth have my dear Bebe in mind during that Queen of the Night aria. First I've ever heard of Diana Damrau and she is excellent. Mum dressed her little GSL as Papageno with pan flute one Halloween

  6. Ever sensitive to tone of voice and it's ability to create or deflate, I have never adopted The Tone. Instead, I rely on The Look! All about the eyes for me, G! I detest a harsh tone!

    1. My Dear T,
      i'll bet your Look has Madusan qualities!

  7. How diplomatic of you! I do love your discourses on all your scrumptious friends.

    Was the FHD a "Phony" Southern Baptist, or did he display that phony Southern Baptist demeanor? Tone IS everything.

    says rachel, whose soft Southern Tones have gotten her everywhere, but who keeps a ready supply of ass-slings by the door, just in case.

  8. Darling Rachel,
    i know these fire & brimstone Southern Baptist aspiring tele-evangelist hucksters well. We had this go throgh each cost item by item with pointed inquiries how he arrived at such large costs. His down-home aw-shucks perma-grin moistened as I detected the first droplets of 'flopsweat' start to sting his eyes with the toxic hair-spray vapors.
    He quickly settled at 40% off the original bill, packed up his holy snake oil, and ran out the door.

    Love the new features you are beginning with your new cast of characters. This casket hustler would have your Marlee giving him some Annie Oakly target practice.

    1. Tell me this was not back in the day of wide white belt and shoes-to-match?

      The cast of characters is mostly old, with stage entrances off and on since 2008, when I began LAWN TEA, and fed by memory and idea since. I'm trying hard to Present-Tense them, as wavering from then to now without a definite flashback makes me want to mainline white-out, but most are from actual memory and the aura of the time comes through as mostly WAS.

      To set the time: I know where I was exactly FIFTY years ago today. Wish I had pictures, because most is a blur now..


  9. I can see you as a Diplomat, you've obviously been checking out possible wardrobe additions on Pinterest with that in mind too….
    I am so sorry to hear that Estella is having to become a carer for her Mother - it's a very difficult and heartbreaking role to have. I'm sure you'll be a good support to her.