A New Year's Proclamation
by Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Readers! Friends! Working People and associated middle management! Pay heed and attend to the following PROCLAMATION:

Whereas each of us is forced to expend much effort on company time that often extends from dawn to dusk; and

Whereas this sponging off our span on the planet represents hours that will never return no matter how much money we may make; and

Whereas the evenings we have to ourselves are therefore precious, enabling us to recreate ourselves from the husk of what is left after the workday is done; and

Whereas you can't count lunch, because a lot of the time we eat it at our desks, surrounded by aggravation, or at a restaurant in the company of people who, while they may look good in a suit, would not be our first choice of companions; and

Whereas the black-tie dinner is an invasion of our personal time and space and is odious in more ways than can be mentioned, including the following:

●Black-tie dinners calcify our standing within the corporate structure, which is not a good thing a lot of the time, clarifying who rates an invitation and who doesn't; and

●Even those "lucky" enough to be invited know by their seating where they rate with the guys who put together the tables, who are the right-hand advisors of senior management; and

●If there is more than one table and you're at the B table, it is better not to be invited at all; and

●Therefore the black-tie dinner can be a career killer in addition to a huge time waster during a period of the day that should belong not to endangered species or the Committee to Protect Laplanders but to you and your sweetie, who were planning to spend a quiet evening with your toes in the bathtub; and

Whereas it is not just the social obnoxiousness of the situation that is odious, but the garb one is forced into, viz.:

●Black-tie apparel does nothing to make the average man feel good about himself, because any tuxedo that has been purchased more than a week ago seems to have shrunk three sizes during the dry-cleaning process; and

●The stupid frilly shirt has a neck on it that also has contracted radically since it was last worn; and

●What's with the stupid studs that have to be inserted in weird buttonholes, which anybody with human thumbs has serious problems with? and

●How about the bow tie? For most of us, it's the only time we wear a cheesy clip-on neckpiece, because we don't know how to tie the real thing, and don't tell us to learn--that's why we're making this PROCLAMATION, because we don't want to learn how to tie an object around our gullets that seems to work only for guys like Charles Osgood and Tucker Carlson; and

●What about the whole cummerbund issue? I see fat guys use them as girdles sometimes, and they look like walking couches! and

Whereas the food, ladies and gentlemen! The food! At what age do we get to choose our own meals? Chicken or fish! Fish or chicken! Phooey! and

Whereas these meals are very often "plated" for the arrival of guests, meaning that the entire dinner is already on the table turning staler by the moment, from the salad to the bread and butter to the sad, spongy, runny dessert, the only thing left to be delivered being the polystyrene chicken or flaccid salmon; and

Whereas you never get enough to drink at these things, so you're always being forced to suck on your napkin to see if you spilled any merlot on it; and

Whereas black-tie dinners cost our corporations hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be spent on executive bonuses or other worthy things; and

Whereas not a single person I know under the age of 80 likes to go to these things, and the only reason the elderly like to go is that they really don't have anything else to do at night, don't eat much, and fit into clothes they bought 20 years ago; and

Whereas this is a new century, and the time is right to reevaluate dead customs and shake off the husks of past traditions that no longer have meaning;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that from this date forward ALL BLACK-TIE DINNERS SHALL BE ABOLISHED and the savings be given to whatever good causes would have benefited had the events been held.

Now tear out this column, sign it, and send it to President Bush. Okay, I know, he's got other things to do. But given the number of times he's forced to put on a monkey suit, I'll bet this gets his full attention.

Wouldn't hurt his approval rating either.

STANLEY BING's latest book, Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the REAL Art of War (HarperBusiness), is available at bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at stanleybing@aol.com. Top of page

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