Advice from the queen: Don’t be that guy

Most Sundays, the most revered queen of France stops whatever she is doing to answer your questions on love and life. To ask your own question, email at whatwouldmarieantoinettedo@gmail.com.

My Queen, 

A friend of mine has some annoying habits. He belches loudly, wears wrinkled clothes and eats with his hands (spaghetti included). He’s up for

a promotion and I want to say something to him but don’t know if it’s my place. What do you recommend?

Unsure

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Dearheart,

I feel for you. And realize any help I can give you might relieve your tableside problems as well. I sympathize. After all, who would someone want to pick for a position of responsibility? A dashing, tall drink of water? Or the sloppy fat man who shot pellets he rolled from the dirt on his own feet?

Pretty much a no-brainer, right? Nobody would choose foot-pellet guy. But in my day, no one had a choice. Louis Auguste  (my hubby) was their guy. And he was sweet, he was. But he continued to do stupid, stupid things. Like tickle his valet. And lift people in the air for no reason. Dearheart, He was that guy.

Add to all that an awkward doughiness and you have a bit of a disaster on your hands. Some even said he “looked like some peasant shambling along behind his plough; there was nothing proud or regal about him. His sword was a continual embarrassment to him and he never knew what to do with his hat.”

But Louis didn’t mind being the annoying guy. And he didn’t mind that it overshadowed his useful qualities like his fluency in English and competence in history and geography.

Shouldn’t a King know what to do with his hat? Wouldn’t it be reassuring for his people if he had some of that easy stuff down pat so he could master things like fiscal discipline and running the country?

Yes.

Help your friend. Take him for a trial business lunch where you can help with his interview questions as well as his table manners. Have the right intentions and the results will usually fall in step.

What do you think? Did the queen get it right? What would you say? Tell her in the comments.

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Advice from the Queen: Your Accountant Shouldn’t Wear Furs

Usually on Sunday the former queen of France tells you about the mistakes she made so you won’t make them too. I say usually because lately she’s had some trouble making her deadline. See this as a virtual “Sunday” that travels with you throughout the week. If you find yourself in need of advice from the former Queen of France, please email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

Marie,

A friend is always asking me for money, and usually I don’t think twice about helping, but we are talking about going on a trip together. I really feel like this will be a bad idea (for me) since I feel like I’ll be footing the bill for everything. She is pushing me to give her money for a deposit. What do you think? 

Miserlee

ImageDearheart,

I can relate. In my day, I had my share of friends with open palms, but also, remarkably, some ministers as well. I don’t have to tell you that it’s a bit of common sense that if your minister of finance lives as nicely as you do, and you’re the king of France, you probably should find another minister of finance. Monsieur de Calonne’s art collection included paintings by Rembrandt, Titian and Fragonard. His coach was lined with furs. At his legendary feasts, he needed to hire three people just to supervise the roasted meats.  Calonne meant well, but was not a thrifty man. He even released the state’s expenditures to the people, touting a surplus, leaving out the little detail about the 530 million-livre debt the crown had accrued since Louis XVI’s accession. The minister wanted to encourage creditors to think well of France and tried to spend his way out, supporting public works, and a new East India Company and other state expenditures. To reduce the deficit, the minister managed to increase the debt. By 1786, France owed 650 million livres. 

When people show you who they are, believe them. Don’t go on this trip and tie your finances to hers. Go on your own and travel first-class, four star. From what you’ve said, you’ll save money. 

What do you think? Did the Queen get it right? Give us your take in the comments. 

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Advice from the queen: Cut, then burn the purse strings

It’s Sunday. That means that the former queen of France tells you about the mistakes she made so you won’t make them too.  If you find yourself in need of advice from the former Queen of France, please email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

Madame, my Queen, 

I have a sister who can’t quite keep it together. She’s very lazy and manages to get other people to pay her bills. She lives at home but manages to get my parents to pay for her car insurance and has recently started to use their credit card to shop for elec

tronics and other things she doesn’t need and that my parents can’t afford. It drives me crazy. She’s asked to move in with me to see if she can get a job in my town. I’m worried that she’s just bored and will start to suck me dry as well. What should I do?

Overdrafted 

Money. That’s something that can throw us all asunder and I know that better than most. People without money depend on people who have it though. In my case, my husband, Louis XVI, paid all my extravagant bills. He was used to it by then.  He’d long paid his brothers’ own 31 million-livre gambling debts. His aunts lived on more than 1 million livres each a year and spent 3 million livres for 6-week spa outings to Vichy. I had no idea about the country’s financial straits and once explained, “Whenever I asked for 50,000 livres, they gave me 100,000.” Louis kept me in the dark about the crown’s finances but should have told me or those like me “no.”  Thousands of livres could have probably been saved just by refusing every other request.

Count yourself lucky: You know how this story will pan out. If she stays, be prepared to support her. It will be thankless and frustrating. She can’t support herself and you can’t teach her. It’s not your job. If you can’t grin and bear this and tell her the truth: that you simply can’t afford it. Tell her what you would need from her to consider her a better roommate. She’ll be angry with you, your parents will be angry with you, but someone needs to tell her the truth. I know I would have appreciated it in my day.

What do you think? Did the Queen get it right? Give us your take in the comments. 

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Advice: How Do I Look Like I Belong

It’s Sunday, and regular readers know what that means. Today Marie Antoinette helps Modern Maries of all walks of life navigate life’s social minefields. If you find yourself in need of advice from the former Queen of France, please email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.


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My Queen, 

I’ve been asked to attend a party but I’m thinking of backing out. I’ve discovered what the other women will be wearing and I don’t have anything like it. I’m worried that I’ll embarrass myself and be self-conscious the entire night. I also don’t have the cash to buy something I’d only wear for this party. What would you do? 

Dressed down

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Darling, 

First off, congratulations. Problems about parties are the best type. This is because the other hot buttons — health, love — are likely going more swimmingly. Let all our problems be about parties. 

Allow me to tell you a little story about when I was in jail. I apologize for matching your party story with a jail story. Once a girl has been in jail likely everyone starts to groan “Oh god, there goes Marie, talking about jail again”  but I think this might be useful to you.

My jailers at the Conciergerie were loathe to send me, now the former queen, new clothing. Which I understand, but nonetheless my shoes were caked in dirt and grime from the mildewy rust streaked prison floors, since they feared that even a shoe might hide a secret message or aid in my escape. All I had left were my black widow’s weeds. My clothes were worn and frayed and dependent on the employees of the prison who took pity and pitched in on the mending. Still, I wore my mourning clothes even to sleep, hoping to wear them to the scaffold. When I wore them to my trial the black fabric heightened the pallor of her pale, sickly skin, making this supposed monster a surprisingly sympathetic figure. I was forbidden from wearing her mourning clothes to the scaffold.

            Instead, I wore a white déshabillé dress my sister-in-law had sent me, along with a white chemise I’d managed to save just for the occasion. I pulled the black ribbon from my widow’s bonnet for a ruffled coif as pale as my hair, skin and entire ensemble. There I was, a figure stripped even of her right to mourn. My white skin, the color of the monarchy, was also the color of a ghost. I dressed simply, cleanly and plainly and held my head up high in that outfit in the rough cart the revolutionaries had brought to humiliate her. The spectators were stunned into silence.

I bring this up to mention two things.

1. There’s always another outfit. There’s a solution for what to wear that will work if you want to find it. Lean on your friend you invited you. She could help you sort through your closet for some solution or lend you something of her own. Surely you have a simple top and bottom that with the right necklace or brooch will seem as chic and 100 times as inventive as anything you’ll see at the party. 

2. It’s only an outfit. What matters more is how you carry yourself. Don’t hold back from anything because you can’t hold head up high. You belong to be anywhere you believe you belong. You might need some convincing of this, but I don’t, and I know you’ll prove me right.  

 

 

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The Ultimate Makeover: How I Transformed from Awkward Teen to Glam Dauphine

Each Sunday, Marie Antoinette takes time from her own personal afterlife to help Modern Maries like yourself navigate life’s social minefields. If you find yourself in need of advice from the former Queen of France, please email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

ImageMadame my queen, 

I’m starting school next week and while I’m excited there’s a little problem. I fell riding my bike and am not only all scratched up but I have a chipped tooth. I do not want to be seen like this. At all. I’m thinking of bowing out and pretending I am sick. What do you think? 

Not up to scratch

Dear heart,

I’m so sorry about your fall and am so happy to hear you’re (mostly) fine. I’m also so sorry to hear you’re considering bowing out on this all important first week. It would be a shame not to be part of these all-important first days.

I’m one of the most famous princesses who ever lived, but I wasn’t always princess-worthy. My teen glamour required not just some hard work but some core rules.

1. Fix what’s broken.  I had crooked teeth and at 13 was hardly worthy of the French prince’s hand. That is until mom hired one of the best French dentists to straighten my teeth. After a number of horrendous oral surgeries performed without anesthesia throughout three months, my smile was finally perfect.

2. Hide flaws. As a young girl, I had a high forehead that was made more visible by a tendency to pull all my unruly reddish brown curls on top of my head with a scratchy woolen band (that also pulled out my hair). The cure was lower updo that softened my “unacceptable” hairline and prevented more baldspots.

3. Celebrate charms. In early portraits painted for Louis XV, paintings showcase a charming smile, a slim physique, and a skin that rivaled porcelain for whiteness.

These tips are all to say that even I had my awkward days. Get yourself to a dentist stat to fix that chip, don a maxi dress to hide the scratches on your legs, and remember your real friends will love you any way — and refrain from photographs until you’re smiling again. Keep the sick days for when you’re not feeling good, not when you think you’re not looking good and enjoy those first days.

What do you think? Did the queen get it right? Let her know what you’d add in the comments. 

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A reader asks: Games and a ideas for a 21st birthday?

 

Each Sunday the former queen of France answers your question on love and life. She’s got a bit of a backlog after a time away, but she’s working her way through them. 

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Hi There!

I am about to turn 21 and I’m going to celebrate with a Marie Antoinette party! 

I was just wondering if you have any ideas for party games on the night? It would be cool if it was Marie Antoinette themed, but doesn’t have to be. So far I only have charades and poker as ideas, I need some exciting activities to get my guests excited!
 
The party will be in a private function room at a club, and there will be around 10 guests.

Any ideas would be appreciated, thanks!

-K.S.

My darling girl, Happy Birthday! Every day is an excuse to celebrate but birthdays include cake so they are extra special. I’ve pulled together some ideas that aren’t historically accurate but should be fun and easy to replicate.

kir royale

Food: Offer food to pass. Something simple and decadent. Finger foods people can take with ease, sweets so small they can’t help but indulge. Ask if the club can create a signature cocktail in your honor — something bubbly with a sparkling win — that lightens everything.

Dress: Keep your hair up and your decolletage bare. This is a good rule for life, but especially a good idea at your own birthday party. Whatever you do, dress like you mean it. Someone from across the room should know it’s your birthday.

Details. Make everything special. Don’t just light candles, blow out a birthday candelabra. Send a digital invite that sets your fete apart.

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Games: These are not games I played as queen, but they’re ones you might enjoy nonetheless.

1.) Birthday Bingo. You mentioned that you’ll have your event at a private club. Create a Bingo board from a sheet of poster board. Create squares for the things you think will happen at your party (a wish made, a toast said) and the things might hope for (a peck on the cheek, a wish granted). For fun, leave a square or too free for your friends to fill in. That night, ask your friends’ help to get you to BINGO.

2. Oui ou Non. Give everyone a ribbon. They can loop it around their wrists or their necks but if they say “non” (or perhaps some naughty word that will make your group roar) they need to give it up to the trickster who got them to say it. Those with the most ribbons make their own wish on your big day. Or grant yours. It’s your pick, depending on the winner.

3. Tattoo scavenger hunt. Give your friends each a slip of paper. Tell them each to ask you find a different tattoo at the club — a lover’s name, the ultimate tramp stamp, a foreign phrase the wearer can’t pronounce — and snap a shot with your phone.  You get your gifts when you are finished. (You could also ask them to give you tasks, a task, preferably PG rated, to accomplish at the club.)

Photos. Make sure to take some. Your faithful blogmistress will feature them in this space so we can give you the birthday extension that you so very much deserve, my dear.

Of course, for more ideas you can always go here and here.

Do you have party ideas (for games or cocktails) that you would like to share? Write them in the comments. 

And if you get a chance, your Marie is now on Pinterest. I find it dizzying but I remain undeterred. Follow your queen and she will follow you. 

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What we’ve missed

Darlings, I’ve been gone, which should be no surprise to you since you haven’t seen me. There’s no good excuse for it. Life, I suppose, but that’s not quite a fit. Mostly, I’d been focused on things that seemed somehow more important than a blog that shares the lessons of a not-forgotten 18th Century French Queen. As you well know, this was pure foolishness, and I will rehabilitate myself and the blog. 

Until our next post, I leave you with these three wonderful things: 

 

A dior scarf: 

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My new afternoon snack — the Pistachio Macaron (I prefer the ones at Macaron Cafe): 

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And this movie about a much-brushed under the rug moment at my former house in the country. [Read more here]

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Much love, and more to come, 

 

Your Blog Mistress. 

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