The Perfect Life #17 by Dr. Perfect
Dear Dr. Perfect,
My wife works out of town with her brother, who is married. My wife has disclosed to me that my sister-in-law’s brother, who we summer with together in Nantucket, cheats on his wife, who thinks they are in a monogamous relationship. My sister-in-law’s brother is not discreet, and texts me and our grandmother obscene images of his exploits, which are apparently all with ugly women, which is apparently his fetish.
Should I forward these grotesqueries to my brother-in-law’s wife, or should I burn down our summer house to collect the insurance, and then never see my brother-in-law again?
Desperately Seeking to De-assholify my life
Dear Desperately Seeking,
Your family sound more dysfunctional than Hamlet or the Royal Tenenbaums, though not as tragic or witty. I haven’t beheld such hedonist debauchery since the time I wandered behind a Newark Macaroni Grill at four in the morning, shocked to find the place still open.
Your brother-in-law doesn’t appear to be a particularly modest fellow. His lack of shame, decency, and/or personal ethics could become a problem. He’d make a prime candidate for any sleazy basic cable reality show. In fact, daytime television was invented for shameless louses of similar stature to eagerly divulge their exploits amid jeers from an inebriated crowd.
Despite my own erudite lineage, I am no more immune from the occasional boorish half-wit in the family than many of our US Presidents. My cousin Seymore (once- removed) ran an illegal cockfighting ring in El Paso in the 1990s. He approached me during a family reunion sometime after and asked if I wanted to place any wagers. He then asked if I was wearing a wire, despite clearly wearing a wire himself. I could see the bulge in his breast pocket and the sweat pouring down his face. The FBI apparently had a lot of time on their hands. Nonetheless, he’s not a relative I regularly engage with.
Your brother-in-law bears little relation to you beyond a simple title. He would most likely protest his well-deserved exposure by telling you to mind your own business. It would make no difference that he freely shared such incriminating behavior to anyone who would listen, including your grandmother. But I must also give him credit for thinking of her. When was the last time you or your wife reached out?
If someone sent me unsolicited pictures of their trysts, that would be grounds for harsh retribution, especially if it involved ugly people. But there is another way, a much healthier and fun alternative. I propose a macabre dinner party at the mansion of a wealthy sadist who forces guests to debase themselves for his personal amusement. We’ve seen this scenario play out in countless horror films, dating back to the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” and its film adaptation in 1932.
Since then, unwitting participants in these stories always get duped into an elaborate scheme, where they’re hunted, tortured, or forced to participate in some sinister elimination ritual. What motivates these evil rich tyrants in the first place? Is it sexual in nature? Can I participate in this? These are the questions I’ve asked myself, determining that the “evil rich man” trope is lazy storytelling, even if The Bachelor is fun to watch.
A trial run of my solution will commence this Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. sharp. Your brother-in-law and guests will arrive at my private villa for a black tie event. Guests will mingle in the parlor and be treated to the finest hors d’oeuvres and champagne a $50 Publix gift card can buy. All the while, I will be sizing them up, concealed behind a velvet portrait above the mantle of the Marquis de Sade.
The engagement will unfold with talks of my alleged philanthropy and rumors of a great reward to one lucky winner of my choosing by evening’s end. Naturally, your brother-in-law will believe it to be him by sheer arrogance. Dinner will follow at 8:30, with prime rib, asparagus, and crab cakes displayed on both sides of my long dining table. After copious amounts of food and wine, the games will begin.
I will first call on every guest to reveal an act of deception they’re currently engaged in. The greater the deception, the bigger the win. Each contestant will submit their answer on an index card and place their cards inside a human skull in the middle of the table. The winner will swiftly proceed to the next round, while the losers get rusty nails hammered into their hands or feet. The choice is theirs.
Virulent objections are sure to follow until all guests realize the hopelessness of their situation. My security personnel will enforce the rules as we go along. Your sister-in-law’s brother will be in attendance, possibly restrained in stocks for insolence. This will provide the perfect opportunity for him to come clean. It may be unnecessarily elaborate and cruel, but there is a method behind the madness: I’ve always wanted to throw a dinner party for strangers.
See you there.