Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Happy Birthday George Ade

February 9, 1866 – May 16, 1944. American humorist, often overlooked. Been dead sixty-five years and I still can't pronounce his name. Gave Aesop a run for his shekels with his fables.

A man is tempted by ambition as a child. We join him in his later years:

"The Exercises up to this Time have been Preliminary," said Ambition.
"What is the good of a Bank Roll if you cannot garnish it with the
delectable Parsley of Social Eminence? Get a Wiggle on you. Send for
the Boys with the Frock Coats and the Soft Hats and let them dig in to
their Elbows. Tell the Press Agent to organize a typewriting Phalanx.
Assume a few Mortgages on fluttering Newspapers. Lay a Corner-Stone
ever and anon. Be Interviewed."

"What are you leading up to?" asked the Financial Giant, a sickly Fear
creeping into the Region formerly occupied by his Heart.

"The Logical Finish," replied Ambition, with a reassuring Pat on the
Shoulder. "You must go to the Senate. The White Palace, suitable for
entertaining purposes, now awaits you in Washington. The Bulb Lights
glow dimly above the Porte Cochere. A red Carpet invites you to climb
the Marble Stairway and spread yourself all over the Throne. On a
Receiving Night, when the perfumed Aliens in their Masquerade Suits
rally around the Punch Bowl, your Place will resemble the Last Act of
something by Klaw & Erlanger. You will play Stud with the Makers of
History and be seen leaving the Executive Mansion."

This Line of Talk landed him. He Fell for it. That year the Christmas
Tree drooped with valuable Gifts for the Boys who stood after they
were hitched.

He went up to Washington with an eviscerated Check-Book in his Pocket,
and a faint Odor of Scandal in his Wake, but he was a certified Servant
of the People. His Cut Flowers were the Talk in Official Circles. The
most Exclusive consented to flirt with his Wine Cellar.

To a mere Outsider it looked as if Ambition had certainly boosted his
Nobs to the final Himalayan Peak of Human Happiness. He had a House as
big as a Hospital. The Hallways were cluttered with whispering
Servants of the most immaculate and grovelling Description. His Wife
and the Daughter and the Cigarette-Holder she had picked up in Europe
figured in the Gay Life of the Nation's Capital every Night and went
to see a Nerve Specialist every Day. The whole Bunch rode gaily on the
Top Wave of the Social Swim, with a Terrapin as an Escort and a squad
of Canvas-Back Ducks as Body-Guard.

Notwithstanding all which, Father was the sorest Hard-Shell that
motored along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Dime Denouncers printed his Picture, saying that he was owned by
the Interests and hated the sight of a Poor Working Girl. When the
High Class continuous Show in the Senate Chamber showed signs of
flopping and the Press Gallery became impatient, some Alkali Statesman
of the New School would arise in his Place and give our Hero a Turning-
Over, concluding with a faithful Pen-Picture of the Dishonored Grave
marked by a single Headstone, chiseled as follows: "Here lies a

Ade's Fables

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