Larry Miller is a writer and actor. He famously voiced the pointy haired boss in the short lived Dilbert TV series. Here is an excerpt from a column he wrote a decade ago.
The Divine Mrs. Miller’s brother-in-law is Argentine, and we were over at their house for dinner recently. My wife and her sister were gabbing about a dress in a magazine, and Roberto leaned over to me with his manly accent, and his Douglas Fairbanks Jr. smile and said, “Ah, you know, Laddy, what does it matter? The dress, she is off in a minute anyway, eh?”
Whoa. Not exactly something you’d expect from, say, Alan Alda. I turned to see if my wife was staring daggers at him, but instead she and her sister were . . . laughing! Tittering behind their hands! My wife! The two of them giggling like schoolgirls performing “Three Pretty Maids Are We.”
I was about to take her hand gently and say, “Have you lost your mind?” When Roberto, unsure that his first foray had been sufficient, added, “And then, after you finish, on the way out, you step on the dress, eh? Try some of this sauterne, Laddy. It’s from the pampas.”
“Step on the dress.” Hmm. Quite an image, don’t you think, and not exactly one from the “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” school of thought. Their reaction this time? Howls. Roars. A real knee-slapper. “Step on the dress! Oh, Roberto . . .”
After a minute I glanced sideways at The Divine Mrs. Miller, who by now had recovered enough of her senses to begin shyly dabbing her maidenly tears of mirth away; and I seriously considered the possibility that in the last half-hour, a long-since disbanded black operations group from the fifties had crept into the living room and slipped a psychotropic drug into her wine, since the woman next to me laughing was clearly someone I had never met. So much to consider.
INSTEAD, I took my sauterne out onto the terrace, gazed at the sun setting over the Pacific, and tried to imagine a gaucho riding up to his cabin on the pampas and having his Incan wife come running out saying, “Honey, guess what? I got a new dishwasher.”
On the ride home, with the kids sugar-drugged into staring out the windows like Robert De Niro in Awakenings, I said to my wife, “So, how long do I go to husband-prison for if I ever make a crack like that?”
And she said, “Oh, you know the Argentines.”
And I said, “No, I don’t know the Argentines. Why do they get a pass on it? Is it the accent? The tradition of flirting with every woman? If I flirt with a woman, she’s likely to think, “What an idiot,” or, “God, he’s bald,” but if Roberto does it, everyone just giggles and says, ‘Oh, you know the Argentines.'”
I had a chance to think about this a lot more, since my wife decided to just look out the window herself and not respond.
THERE ARE A FEW GROUPS that can get away with murder on these things, and it’s not just the Argentines. I think French and Italian men pretty much get a pass on Planet Earth for anything they say to women.
Notice her hamster spinning. She sees the hypocrisy of her behavior, but can’t readily acknowledge it. She got a burst of tingles; and she liked it.
Larry Miller suggests,”THERE ARE A FEW GROUPS that can get away with murder on these things”. Basically it would be men that can generate tingles. Tingles Uber Alles.
Talk among yourselves.