Notes from Napa

Saturday, April 24, 2010



Back when San Francisco's Mayor was caught with his best friend's wife this seemed apropos. Of course, Tiger has since put the mayor to shame.

Now this isn't about puritanical attitudes regarding sex. It's about dissing "The Code."

The private peccadilloes of SF’s insouciant incumbent mayor, (or Tiger) have little interest to us up here in the Valley. The only connection is Plump Jack winery on the old McWilliams' property on the Rutherford Cross.

As to what goes on betwixt consenting adults, Dorothy Parker said it best: “As long as it’s behind closed doors and doesn’t frighten the horses….”

It appeares that there are actually, not only people, but professionals who feign ignorance of “The Code’s” existence.

Mr. Newsome violated the Code. That’s a gimme to most of us. But for those of you who are still in a quandary, the code is bigger than just keeping your paws off your friend’s gal—let alone wife. It’s many faceted.

You won’t find the Code written down anywhere. There is no Code Guru who mediates disputes or arbitrates infractions. There is no need.

The code is clear-cut and unambiguous.

The code is silent. Call it a guy thing. When a man violates the code, the tom toms start beating and he is forever stained. The Code is not a sometimes thing.
It works like this:

The one who reaches a crowded bar first, pays for the drinks.

If you’re standing in a group and ready for another brewski, you ask who else wants one. You pay. If you know that the one heading for the bar can’t afford it, and he asks if you are ready, you are honor bound to reply, “I’m still nursing this one”, until he turns his back. Then you go over and pay for yours or anyone else’s. This is done subtly. The one with the thinner wallet is never to be embarrassed.

When the check is being divvied up, you always over pay and over tip. You remember when you were once that waiter. A clear violation of the code is to utter, “I had a salad”. Unless you are dining with strangers or in-laws, the words “Who had the....” shall never pass your lips.

On the field of play: Suckers walk. Call your own fouls. When in doubt, say “Take Two”. Close balls go to your opponent.

In doubles, though the better player will offer you your choice of sides, you demure, for the better player always receives in the ad court.

Unless you’re playing against a Williams sister, in mixed doubles, you never poach on the man’s return of serve. Overheads are always hit away from women.

In business, never, ever gull a buddy.

Despite admonitions to the contrary, you hire friends but never borrow serious money from them.

A handshake or personal phone call supersedes all written documents.

What goes on the road stays on the road.

Never use a first name when a derogatory nickname will do. “Charlie” no. “Scum bucket.” Yes.

It’s okay to be a peace maker, but if physical violence looks real, you’re involved, even if your friend has been a jerk.

Never cross a threshold without a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer.

Racist remarks are not on--anytime, anywhere.

There’s nothing wrong with crying (funerals, your daughter’s wedding, or Brians’ Song)--but sniveling is never permitted.

If you didn’t pay for the tickets, the beer and dogs are on you. Even if you are a guest at Bill Gates house, when making long distance calls you always charge them to your credit card.

In poker, if you pull off a bluff, never show the cards.

Bets are always paid. Even those made when the booze was doing the talking. On the other hand, you always let your friend off the hook when it was the booze making his bet.

Unless talking about changing jobs, one’s salary is out of bounds.

You never ask how many head of cattle, how many acres, or how many shares of his company a man owns. The square footage of your house is of no interest to anyone. Neither is the number of bedrooms or baths.

Children of friends are always granted job interviews. Calls from college students are always returned. You write all letters of recommendation upon request.

In affairs of the heart, you always side with the man, but remind the woman how awful all men are.

If single, and on the make--it’s your moral obligation to hustle the best looking girl first. It’s unforgivable to go for the homeliest one before you've struck out with all the rest. That’s why no real man has any respect for our past president.

You clap loudly for your son’s or daughter’s opponents and congratulate the parents of your child’s adversaries.

When asked, you intercede on behalf of a friend’s troubled child.

You attend funerals.

When a guest for dinner, you offer a toast without being asked. It goes without saying you always dance with the bride--those headed for sainthood dance with her mother.

You never gossip about another man’s daughter. And though you’d be proud if your daughter married a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you’d be prouder still, if she married a New York Fireman. Most of all you make sure she knows you’ll be proudest yet, when she herself becomes one or the other.