Thursday, May 1, 2008

Peer Pressure

Dear Friends,

What would happen if an elephant and a bee opened competing tea houses across the street from each other? The new Hard Taco song, "The Agony of the Leaves,” attempts to answer that question without relying on profane redneck tirades, paroxysms of weeping, and other gimmicks employed in most elephant- and bee-themed reality television programs.

Consumer Alerght
Don’t be duped by websites offering to sell you “real” Scottish titles. My brother-in-law was hoodwinked into buying a Scottish title, and while I am the first to admit that “Highland Laird Glenflichich Cock O' the North” looks neat on his driver’s license, I doubt that justifies the $750 he spent on it.

I, on the other hand, have decided to invest splendidly in my family’s future by purchasing a British title. Unlike the Scottish equivalents, British titles are a safe, legal internet commodity. Most importantly, the British variety confer all of the rights and privileges of the peerage.

Tantalized yet? Let's take a look at the benefits of lordship.

Trial by Peers
One benefit of becoming a God-sanctioned peer-of-the-realm is that all British lords are entitled to a “Trial by Peers.” Once I purchase my certificate of aristocracy, I intend to exercise this right all the time.

Picture this: A meter maid (or as they call her in England, a “just-o'er-a-yard maid”) catches me parking my MG in a bike lane. She's furious, but since I am a card-carrying peer, she can't do anything about it. Instead, the Earl of Gloucester, the Earl of Breastminster, and Baron Coventry of Rowington-Upon-Hull must slip on their wigs and convene at the House of Lords to write me the parking ticket.

Unfortunately, the Queen has spearheaded a lobby to abolish the privilege of Trial by Peers. I think she was just steamed about being called up for jury duty for the third time in as many months.

Coat of Arms
All British Lords are granted the right to a coat of arms. My family crest consists of a simple shield flanked by two lions with goats wrapped around their torsos. In the center of the shield, there is a gauntlet holding a bejeweled hammerhead shark by the tail. Below that flies a banner with our family motto, “Ever Fierce,” both in English and in a form of Gaelic that replaces all vowels with the letters cgh.*

Most families display the image of their crest on T-shirts and such. However, if I drop a wad of cash on a genuine legitimate lordship, I want my family crest to be genuine too. I’m mentioning this now, because I may need your help in locating goats that are flexible enough for lion-wrapping.

Audience with the Sovereign
As if you would need any more convincing, the price of an authentic legitimate lordship also includes the right to mingle with the Queen. When it’s my turn, I will not waste the HM’s time by prattling about faith-based taxes and which counties in North Ireland have the mealiest currants. Instead, I will ride with her out to the countryside, place her gently on an outcrop next to a gurgling brook, and ask her to close her eyes. “Your Majesty,” I will say, “Is it not truly magical how many wondrous sounds the world around us makes when we simply stop to listen?”**

The guy selling the titles on eBay hasn’t gotten back to me on how many times I am entitled to demand an audience with the sovereign. If it is only once, I may hold off until Prince Charles is coronated, because QE2 has a touch of high-frequency hearing loss, and might not get as much out of this exercise.

(Dude Looks Like A) Lady Chatterley
Choosing a title is both rewarding and challenging. Not surprisingly, the monikers that come with more vassals or bushier eyebrows tend to be more expensive. Here are some of the ultra-legitimate British titles that I have been considering, divided by price point:

Lord Swift Whitekirk of the Mount
The Right Honourable High Falconer Chaddington Kerfuffle of Foxley
Baron Saint Mortimer Blythe-Cornhole

Lord Bishop of Thrupennies-upon-Tyne
Baronet Regional Accountancy Lord Protector Thorton-beneath-Thames
Earl Buffingshire of Buffingshire-Buffingshire

Dowager Bathgate Fenster-on-Bimble
The Duke of Butterwiggle Ironmongery
High Lord Marquess Floorchester Saint Wets-his-Pants
Her Grace Duchess Slapping Tatties
née Wixhamderry of the Fine Fettle

If anyone is interested in going in on one of the pricier titles, please let me know. I would be cool with going halvsies if I could wear the robes of Viscount Wentworth Fop-in-the-Hole on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternate Saturdays.

With warmest regards,

* Gaelic family motto: “Cghvcghr Fcghcghrcgh.”
** Once I am a peer, I may find myself saying “verily” instead of “truly.”