O.Henry Ending

Piling It On

Where there’s smoke, there’s trash

By Cynthia Adams

I want to be Eurotrash and live in a pile.

How hard could it be to segue from white trash to Eurotrash? I’m a lover of the Holy Trinity of white trash: Jimmy Dean, Little Debbie and Mrs. Smith. And I’m devoted to boiled peanuts, iced tea (or, as we say in the vernacular, “ice tea”), sausage biscuits, white gravy, chow-chow, pinto beans and blackberry likker.

But, maybe my tribe of origin is Eurotrash. I am filled with yearning whenever I see a glorious ruin of a house, with rambling lawns, statuary and yew trees. Someone in my ancestral tree must have either labored in such a place or was deluded enough to think they should own one.

Take St. Giles House, as featured in a fancy magazine for delusional, er, aspirational people just like me. The glorious Dorset pile, as Brits call a mansion, belongs to the young Earl of Shaftesbury.

The twelfth Earl, Nicholas (a.k.a. Nick) Ashley-Cooper, is about 37. He and his wife, the Countess of Shaftesbury, are pictured lazing about at lunch in the lesser dining room. Good Lordamercy! The sconces, the candelabrum, gilded family portraits, the Italianate console! The ancestral silver! White linens thick with monograms and vintage wine on the table. But there — out for God and everybody to see is a — whaa? An ashtray?

The Countess stares pensively into the distance . . .a ciggie at her mouth! That right there is a clear sign. She may be the Countess, but there is no way she would be taking a drag with a magazine photographer in the room if she didn’t have at least a little bit of don’t-give-a-rat’s-ass white trash in her somewhere. St. Giles is the latest Earl’s home due to a series of unfortunate events that sound suspiciously white-trashical. A pile of scandal and heartbreak — some would say a pile of something else — dropped right into their midst.

The tenth Earl, Nick’s father, ran off and left his family, married a Tunisian prostitute, rued the day and ran out again. The jilted call girl hired her brother to strangle the Earl. Once the dirty deed was done, the duo dumped the body, which was soon found. The stink was really on — murder trial, incarceration and headlines. St. Giles goes to the eldest son, Anthony, who becomes the eleventh Earl and inherits the estate.

But not very long after he gets the keys to the castle, Anthony has a heart attack and the second son, Nick, became the twelfth Earl.

Like most Southern writers, I know what my kin has done, to and with whom. There are scoundrels and roués galore — a disappearing businessman who fakes his own death; a handsome uncle who marries the daughter of a department store founder, then runs off with a dishy secretary; a few unfortunate incarcerations.

But these Eurotrash clearly have a great deal more awaiting them when the stink wears off the scandal. Personally, I think my family is due for an upgrade — maybe a pile. At least, a fancy ashtray.  OH

Cynthia Adams grew up in Hell’s Half Acre where a pile of anything was regrettable.

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