By Randy Cohen
“I think you can do this work aggressively and still sleep well,” said William McLucas. What work?
by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to e-mail your answer (NewsQuiz@slate.com).
Responses to Wednesday’s question (No. 28)–“Floral Tribute”:
Former House Speaker Thomas Foley is accused of being a member of the Chrysanthemum Club. Meaning what?
“Meaning that he was caught wearing lipstick, you know, down there.”–Bill Franzen
“Sounds like a new euphemism for being gay. Just like ‘Oh, he writes for Frasier.’ “–Jon Hotchkiss (David Schankula was similarly attuned to our living language.)
“My God, is nothing safe from the prying, prurient eyes of the media? If the man likes flowers, he likes flowers. Do you have to read more into it?”–Jonathan E. Snow
“He’s a gardening enthusiast. Read: total pussy.”–Colleen Werthmann
“It’s a Tokyo street gang made up entirely of Hello Kitty-merchandise-clad schoolgirls that terrorizes subway commuters by singing all the songs from Grease really loudly. Foley had to blow the entire chess club to get in.”–David Rakoff
Click for more responses.
In Victorian times, the language of flowers offered initiates a set of symbols that made bouquets remarkably expressive. Roses meant remembrance, tulips requested a kiss (perhaps from “two lips”), violets said “I’m so mad I could slap you silly” (perhaps from the aural association of violets and violence), poppies stood for daddies or very young dogs (which created many a merry mix-up), wildflowers meant an apartment had a working fireplace. I may be confused on the specifics, but the point is: An interest in gardening doesn’t make you gay. It’s an interest in clothing, opera, art, cuisine, literature, wit, and style. Few have accused Tom Foley of embodying that constellation of virtues.
Foley, the new American ambassador to Japan, is regarded by trade hard-liners as overly sympathetic to Japanese interests, hence a member of the Chrysanthemum Club. Foley defends his style with characteristic eloquence: “I think people who believe in somehow pounding the table or raising the voice are sort of not in a context that’s real either.” Yoshio Murakami, executive editor of the Asahi Evening News observes, “When he meets people here, he can be nice and soft.”
“We are not like a Brinks truck overturned in the middle of the highway.”–Steven Goldstone, chairman, RJR Nabisco, on pulling out of congressional tobacco negotiations.
“Levi Strauss is not in the human rights business.”–Peter Jacobi, president and COO, on his company’s return to manufacturing in China.
“My conscience is clear.”–Pol Pot
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