Monday, May 28, 2012

Nine Cigars, Nine Scotches and Plenty of Pink Silk Underwear

It’s wonderful to remember the service of our U.S. soldiers on Memorial Day, but today I’ve been thinking about the best half-American friend that the U.S. ever had – Winston Churchill.  I just finished reading another biography of him, and I loved mulling over all the stuff I already knew and finding a few tidbits I hadn’t run across before.

The author was another super-hottie boyfriend of mind, J. Rufus Frears, (see photo at left) who tossed in all sorts of juicy tidbits, such as the fact that my boy Winston drank nine scotches and smoked nine cigars each day, starting with breakfast. That doesn’t include the staggering amounts wine and champagne he had with meals, but I think it’s a nice round number for the man who stood alone against what he always sneeringly called the “Naaaahzees.”

Churchill's father was a bug-eyed, egomaniacal, syphilitic gasbag. His mother was a beautiful and narcissistic tramp, reported to have have slept with 200 men.  Neither of them seemed to have wasted much thought or effort on Winston. He was a washout at academics, and on the annual parents' day (Randolph and Jennie never came), the boys would enter the hall in order of academic achievment. Winston always walked in last, and people laughed at him.  From this miserable start came his incredible greatness, and that's just one of the reasons I love him so much.

Dr. Frears failed to mention one of my favorite bits of biographical data, which was Churchill’s penchant for wearing pink silk underwear. It’s one of those facts which you may not make much of at the time, but which will begin to color your understanding of every single event of World War II. Just knowing that the “Never Surrender” speech was delivered by a bloke wearing pink silk knickers just gives the whole thing another perspective entirely.

My other favorite Churchill story has to do with his dangerous wartime Atlantic crossings on the Queen Mary (he was always listed on the passenger manifest as "Colonel Warden”). On one particular crossing, there was a great likelihood that they’d be attacked by U-Boats. When told of this, Churchill got quite agitated – not about the need to keep himself safe, but over how he wanted his lifeboat to be equipped with a machine gun. Imagining himself stranded in the mid-Atlantic, with the wreck of the Queen Mary all around him and with the Naaaahzees circling like sharks, he didn't want to go down without a fight. That's my boy Winnie.

I never hesitate for a moment when people play the hypothetical living-or-dead dinner party game.  I would have Churchill to my right for all eternity (fortified, of course, by many naps on my part and a big ol’ jug of Diet Coke to help me stay awake). Perhaps I love him even more when I realize how impossible he’d be for our careful, coiffed and moderate times.  He was short (5' 6”) and he was fat (215 pounds). He drank. He smoked. He always told the truth. He never held a grudge. He did whatever he thought was the right thing, even when everyone else told him he was wrong, and even when it hurt his career.  He was much more brave than he ever was careful. It got him in trouble during his times; it would make him impossible in ours.

With a c.v. like that, he couldn’t get elected to the position of dogcatcher in the 21st century. but how could you not want to be represented by someone who understood what really matters in life: "We live very simply -- but with all the essentials of life well understood and provided for -- hot baths, cold champagne, new peas & old brandy."

On Memorial Day 2012, this Yank is lifting her glass of Diet Coke and saying, thanks, old boy. Well Done.

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