On the fifth day of Turnip, my author gave to me… the day Turnip crashed the Ballroom Blog.
Does anyone remember the Ballroom Blog? It was a short-lived collaboration between Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, Miranda Neville, Katherine Ashe, and me, in which a weekly Regency Ball was held under the auspices of the formidable Lady Beaufeatherstone. Authors and characters tended to wander in and out of the ball, sometimes with hilarious results.
Sadly, the archives have been lost. But I did manage to retrieve, from my own files, Turnip Fitzhugh’s star turn at the ball, on the occasion of the 2011 relaunch of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.
Without further ado– Turnip.
Ballroom Blog, September 2011 (aka Sometime in the Early 19th Century)
In the ballroom, our esteemed hostess, Lady Beaufetheringstone, is putting the final touches on the decorations for the evening’s event, when a rather large, blond man in a gaudy waistcoat blunders into the ballroom.
Lady B: Carnations…. Pink ribbons…. Pink biscuits…. Pink punch…. Ooph!
Mr. Turnip Fitzhugh, as he hauls Lady B up and enthusiastically brushes crushed biscuits and flower petals off her dress: Terribly sorry, didn’t mean to knock you over and all that! I say, are you Lady B? Just the person I was looking to meet!
Lady B, frostily: May I be of assistance, sir?
Turnip: Frightfully excited to meet you and all that. I’m Fitzugh? Turnip Fitzhugh? M’real name’s Reginald, but everyone calls me Turnip. [Taps the side of his nose.] M’author tells me that turnips are inherently amusing vegetables. Not quite sure what she means by that, but it sounds like a deuced good thing, don’t it?
Lady B: I’m sorry, Mr., er, Parsnip. I don’t believe we were expecting you….
Turnip, eagerly: I’m here for the book toss thingamagummy.
Lady B, frostily: My dear sir, if you were looking for a caber toss, you’ll find that about four hundred miles to the north. Books are for reading, not for flinging. [She thinks about it for a moment. Her lip curls.] With a few notable exceptions.
Turnip: I say, it’s not all the way in Scotland, is it? Shouldn’t like to go there. Vicious creatures, haggis. Not to mention that those kilts are deuced drafty.
Lady B [trying to shuffle him out]: Yes, lovely, thank you for sharing that. Now, if you don’t mind trotting along, we do have a book launch we’re trying to prepare for here in the Ballroom….
Turnip: Book launch! That’s what I meant. Can’t think where I got this idea about tossing, but, then, haven’t been to one of these before. Not that I haven’t been in books—been in quite a few, actually—but this is the first time I have a book of my own.
Lady B: If you mean the book launch, yes, we do have one of those here this evening, but it certainly has nothing to do with—
Turnip, waxing lyrical: It’s all Arabella, you know. Miss Arabella Dempsey. Without her, I’d still be a comic side character, there to fall out windows and natter on at inconvenient moments. Not that it isn’t a valuable job and all that, but I was getting a little tired of being stalked by misguided French spies and poked by the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale. That cane of hers is deuced pointy.
Lady B: Mr. Parsnip—
Turnip: Haven’t seen Arabella about, have you? Blonde woman, about this high, well-furnished in the brainbox? She’s the plum in my pudding, the holly on my ivy, the ringer on my bell….
Lady B: Mr. Parsnip! This is all very touching, but I’m afraid you have been misinformed. We aren’t expecting any Arabellas this evening, and certainly nothing resembling a root vegetable.
Turnip: But… but… it’s my book, don’t you know. The Malefactor of the…. No, wait. The Murder of the…. No, not that either. Well, something to do with Mistletoe, in any event. You know the sort of thing, daring escapades, amusing larks, touching love scenes, and all the pudding you can eat!
Lady B: It sounds… special.
Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, stalking into the room (and modeling some truly alarming purple headgear): I’ll show you special! [Pokes at Turnip with parasol.] What’s this cretin doing at MY book launch? He doesn’t even appear in the first Pink Carnation book! He first shows up in Book Two. [Sniffs] Not that anyone would bother with Book Two. I hardly appear at all. It was a lamentable oversight on the part of the author.
Lady B, edging away from Miss Gwen’s parasol: I can assure you, I have nothing to do with—
Turnip, cheerfully: Hullo, here for my party?
Miss Gwen, stalking towards Turnip: We are here promoting breast cancer research. What do you think you’re doing?
Turnip, quickly: Er, nothing to do with breasts! I mean, that is, unless they were Arabella’s breasts. Don’t think it would be the done thing to do to have anything to do with anybody else’s. Not that I’m sure yours aren’t terribly, er—ouch! I say, that wasn’t terribly sporting of you.
Miss Gwen: This is MY party and I’ll poke you with my parasol if I wish to do so.
Turnip [scratching head]: Your party?
Miss Gwen: This is the book launch for the special Read Pink reissue of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation—[prods him with parasol]—not the All Too Obvious Tale of the Man With the Gaudy Waistcoat.
Turnip [looking down]: Don’t you like it? Thought it was deuced fetching, if do say so m’self. Wait? The Pink Carnation? It’s not the party for the Mischievous Mistletoe?
Miss Gwen: You, sirrah, must wait until 1 November for your happily ever after. [Looks Turnip up and down.] If I were you, I would use that time to find some new garments.
Turnip: Er, is that a spy over there? (Flees as Miss Gwen is looking the other way.)
Author’s Note: Since I couldn’t remember when any of my books were coming out this fall, I figured there was no reason my characters would. And wouldn’t it be just like Turnip to wander right into Miss Gwen’s book launch? (Miss Gwen seems to labor under the delusion that Pink I is all about her, and not, well, the Pink Carnation. I prefer not disabuse her. Like the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale’s cane, Miss Gwen’s parasol is, indeed, deuced pointy.)
Miss Gwen does have the right of it about one thing: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation has just been reissued this week in a special Read Pink edition as part of Penguin’s program to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Huge thanks to Lady B and all the Ballroom Bloggers for hosting a Pink Ribbon ball today—even if it did get crashed by a rather confused Turnip.
What’s your best—or worst—party faux pas?
And now back to December 2016!
As you can tell, that’s all from a long time ago, but I’m still curious. What IS your best party faux pas story?