The Baroque Beauty of Deception: Little White Lies, Elaborately Embroidered

Last week I wore a pair of six-inch Lanvin sling-back stilettos while hosting a fashion show in Dallas. They looked great with my new Band of Outsiders jacket. I told the assembled crowd of socialites that it was the only way I could see over the lectern, which was true-ish. It was all fairly transparent. Anyone could see that I invented this excuse in order to walk the runway wearing those insane shoes and have my Linda Evangelista moment.

I’m a big believer in excuses. The more baroque, the better. I see them as a form of politeness. Running late? Tell them you accidentally ingested a small bird while riding a bicycle. Forgot to show up? Tell them your pantyhose spontaneously combusted. Anything but the boring truth! If you are looking to bail on a date, then at least have the decency to fabricate an entertaining and outlandish excuse. Nobody wants to hear that you have a headache or a dental emergency. Yawn!

I once worked with a bloke who attributed a bout of tardiness to the fact that “a squirrel came in through the window and nibbled through the electrical cord on my alarm clock.” When I heard this cheeky excuse it took me back to my gritty postwar school days. One wet morning, the scabby-kneed troll who sat in front of this scabby-kneed troll foolishly told our teacher that “our hamster ate my homework.” A well-deserved spanking followed.

When it comes to dreaming up baroque excuses, schoolboys have always shown great inventive panache. However, the trolls have nothing on today’s celebs. Whenever they decide they don’t feel like doing what they are supposed to do, the red-carpet gals always pull out the big guns. There’s no “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to dine today, Madam.” It’s more like “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to dine today because her mother has leprosy and her husband’s testicles exploded, all three of them.” It’s never a cold. It’s never jury duty. Poisonings, car crashes, bubonic plagues—these are the things which prevent these hard-working troopers from fulfilling obligations.

The logic is quite simple: If a celeb offers up a really bonkers excuse of the my-bum-is-radioactive variety, the excuse recipient is much less likely to challenge it. It’s also a great way for the celebs’ handlers to convey the impression that their clients are unimaginably busy and unimaginably “special.”

The problem is that the excuse-fabricators have cried wolf. Now, anytime a well-known person reschedules on me, I just assume they are having an everyone-in-my-family-has-Ebola moment and respond with cackles of uncaring derision.

In the past month, two separate celebs have both offered up family deaths as reasons for rescheduling little ol’ moi. In both instances I poo-poo’d them with a “Yeah right! And I’m the Queen of Sheba” response, only to discover subsequently that they were both telling the truth. I cannot tell you who the celebs were, but here’s a clue: one was Anne Hathaway and the other was Kimora Lee Simmons. In both instances, a well-deserved spanking followed.

As a general rule I will say that the higher up the celeb totem pole you get, the less likely you are to encounter people whose alarm clocks are being eaten by leprous squirrels. Dame Edna, the self-proclaimed international giga-star, was coiffed and punctual for our appointment last Monday. (Historically, she always offered up her husband’s “rumbling prostate” as an excuse for canceling.) And then there’s Madge. No I’m not talking about Dame Edna’s old bridesmaid and sidekick, I’m talking Ciccone.

When I interviewed Madonna recently—crash, bang, clang!—she was on time. No buggering about. No excuses. If any family members had kicked the bucket recently, she wisely chose to prioritize her rendezvous with yours truly over any shivas or wakes. Look for our tête-à-tête in next month’s Elle.

Oops! Gotta go! My clavicles have just turned to chalk and my pet iguana is eating through my computer cor— The Baroque Beauty of Deception: Little White Lies, Elaborately Embroidered