A Touch Of Class
By Margie Keane
They are at their favorite Italian Restaurant and Frankie smiles as he watches Millie twirling pasta around her fork. They have been a couple for six years and today he is going to propose.
“Whaddaya say, doll, wanna get married?”
Millie sighs. “Frankie, you’re great lookin’ and all but ya got no couth.”
“Cout? What’s this couth crap? Ya want some I’ll buy ya a truck load.”
Millie’s blond curls bounce as she shakes her head. “Ya dummy. It’s “couth, ya pronounce the ‘th’. It’s class. Rich people are born with it but we gotta learn it. See how I hold out my pinky when I drink? That’s class.”
“Huh! And I thought ya had a stiff finga.”
“I’ll give ya stiff finga! Get some couth then ask me again.” She grabs her fake rabbit fur jacket and stomps off.
Frankie sat and pondered his situation. Suddenly he jumps up, threw some bills on the table, runs out, grabs a cab and heads to “Big Patsy” Nuzzo’s office.
Big Patsy is about five feet four inches and weighs around 200. He’s wearing a navy blue pin stripe Armani suit, a pale blue shirt with French cuffs and gold cuff links the size of ice cubes. Frankie notices that his uncle has given up his pin up girl ties for ones with red and blue stripes.
“Hey Frankie! How are you? How’s your Ma?”
“Good, Unc, good. Listen, I need help. My girl won’t marry me ‘til I get some couth. You got plenty of it, so can ya help me get some?”
Patsy throws back his head and laughs. “So you need some class? I know just the guy. Come on.”
Patsy takes Frankie to “Patricio’s,” an upscale men’s store that Patsy owns. As they enter the shop a tall handsome man appears from the back. He’s well dressed, and his hair is perfectly styled. Frankie guesses he is some years older than himself but in better shape.
“Patricio, nice to see you. We have some beautiful new cashmere jackets. Interested?”
“Not today Andrew, I have a job for you. This is my godson Frankie and he wants to learn your high society ways. Have your assistant run the shop for awhile so you can teach him like you did me.”
Andrew eyes Frankie skeptically, noting the collar turned up on his polo shirt, his jeans and jelled hair. “Hmm. “Let’s start with your wardrobe Francis, then we’ll go see my hair stylist.”
When Frankie is suitably dressed and coifed, Andrew gives him their agenda. He introduces Frankie to the best restaurants, operas, plays, and museums. He teaches him proper table manners and arranges for elocution lessons. They become inseparable.
Occasionally, Andrew sends Frankie off with his niece Cecelia to practice his manners. Cecelia is beautiful. Frankie loves everything about her; the way she talks, the way she dresses, her graceful walk, her wonderful fragrance. They shop together in both expensive and funky stores, dine in small bistros and go to clubs that Andrew would not have approved of. They even go to a Jets game, drink beer and eat hot dogs. ‘This couth stuff is okay,’ thinks Frankie.
Finally Andrew deems Francis ready so he arranges to meet Millicent at Anthony’s for lunch. The maître de escorts her to his table. Francis stands and takes her hand.
Millie can’t believe her eyes. Frankie is attired in a navy blue Versace cashmere blazer, beige linen trousers and caramel brown Berluti loafers.
“Frankie! Oh my God! Ya look like a movie stah!”
The waiter serves the champagne Frankie had ordered earlier, and Frankie says, “Millicent, may I order for us?”
For once Millie is speechless but nods her agreement.
After a sumptuous lunch, Millie kisses Francis on the cheek and squeels, “Yes, Frankie! I’ll marry you!”
Frankie hangs his head. Finally he looks up at her. “Millicent, this is very hard for me to say, but I can’t marry you. While I was learning about couth I fell in love with someone else who introduced me to a whole different world. I’m really sorry, Millicent. I hope you can forgive me.”
Millie stares at him in stunned silence. Finally she stands, glares at Frankie, and said, “Ya big phony, take your new life and shove it.”
Frankie gets up, kisses Millie on the cheek and walks out.
The following week, Francis and Andrew move in together and Francis is now managing “Patricio’s.”
And Millie? Millie is enrolled in the Mr. Andrew’s School of Culture where she is getting some couth.