Someone Broke In and Stole the Gravy Boat

File:Bow sauceboat.jpg

The jaw-dropping lack of accountability prevalent among our elites, no matter how enormous and damaging their quite public failures, has led seemingly reasonable people who ought to know better to, virtually en masse,  unintentionally embrace the ludicrous farce that in my family we call the Gravy Boat Theory. Only with them, it’s a lot less funny.  Just about every day you hear that a billion or so dollars just up and walked away, a newfangled financial “instrument” turned out to be Three Card Monte, or a war was fraudulently peddled and lost, generally from someone with bulging pockets and/or a disturbingly large Tiffany’s account.  It’s a story as old as time, but always seems fresh, whether you’re hearing it from Ken Lay, Condi Rice, or,  just lately, Jon Corzine.

What does this have to do with gravy boats?  For me, anyway, more than you’d think.  You see, my mother, Joan, became increasingly obsessed with Christmas as she got older, and tended to begin shopping by at least March.  This led to some mixups, naturally, when she got around to wrapping presents, which was usually as soon as she’d put away the Halloween decorations.  One November, my brother Turd received the following panicked call:  (dialogue recreated from repeated, and possibly embellished,  repetition)

TURD: Hello?

JOAN: (with utmost urgency) I think someone broke into my house and stole one of your Christmas presents.

TURD: (skeptically) Really?  Anyway, Mom, it’s only November 1st.

JOAN:  (apologetically) I know.  But I got you a gravy boat to match your china last summer and now I can’t find it anywhere.  I think it’s gone.

TURD:  I think you should keep looking.  Then, if you find it, it’ll still be a surprise for me at Christmas.

Of course, Joan found the gravy boat a couple of days later, but because our family is the opposite of, say, David Gregory, we never let her forget it.  Any time someone wanted to escape blame for an obvious personal mistake or transgression, particularly when Joan was around,  we’d say (in Joan voice) “someone broke in.”  In this way, everything from a vanished bottle of booze, a booger or chewing gum stuck someplace, or a stinky bathroom could be blamed on a wily and elusive intruder.  We went so far with it that my hippie friend John even came up with an imagined dialogue between Joan and the police:

OFFICER: (with deep concern) We came as soon as we could.

JOAN: Oh, thank you.

OFFICER:  Was anything else missing?  Maybe a soup tureen or a turkey platter?

JOAN:  I hadn’t thought of that….

OFFICER: (gravely) Well, you should.  These people are ruthless.

Needless to say, when I hear the lame excuses from the many banksters, neocons, and other various grifters and charlatans bandied about in the news these days, I think they’d be better off just saying “Someone broke in and stole the (WMD’s, billions, surplus, or whatever)” and calling it a day.  In the end, it’s a little more plausible, and certainly more endearing, than, say, “no one could have predicted _______.”  The key difference, of course, is that Joan was doing something sweet and generous and made an honest mistake for which she was nonetheless relentlessly teased; the more prominent promoters of the Gravy Boat Theory these days were doing something selfish and heinous and got caught, but are getting away with it.

I’d like to invite then all over for Christmas; gravy will be served.  In style.


  1. Annice says:

    I really think someone breaks in every night at my place and steals my wine! Never the dogs!

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Maybe you should dress up the dogs as wine bottles when you leave. Full ones, of course.

  3. It’s well known that persons in certain quarters suffer from Dog Derangement Syndrome. On another note, that is both a classic and hideous gravy boat.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Admittedly, Turd’s was a littler subtler and prettier. Unfortunately, in the early 90′s that involved Dusty Rose; Turd now uses Joan’s china and the ex-wife probably sold the gravy boat on ebay.

  4. Pedinska says:

    or a stinky bathroom could be blamed on a wily and elusive intruder.

    In our house that was blamed on “barking squirrels”, especially if you could hear them yourself. ;-}

    Great story. :-)

    • cocktailhag says:

      Thanks. I was inspired to tell it after listening to Jon Corzine, and muttering, “someone broke in…” It would be a lot funnier if people would treat such pronouncements as we treated Joan’s.

  5. mikeinportc says:

    “Those people are ruthless.” LOFL! Thanks for that one,CH . :)

    Barking squirrels? I’m famiiar with a subspecies, the Adirondack Barking Squirrel, and a case of convergent evolution, the Susquehanna Barking Toad. ;)

    I was reading about Jonny the Amnesiac’s testimony,as an aquaintence was telling me about his troubles with his loan shark, Uncle Sam. Seems ol’Sam is demanding $25k, toute suite, or “Joe” will be doing a stint at Leavenworth. How he’s supposed to pay from there, or why they want to spend at least as much as he owes, to reduce his ability to pay, it doesn’t say.

    See…,Joe was in the Army. He got a $25k bonus to re-up. Somtime thereafter , they decided that the knee surgery that he had before he joined, was disqualifing, so kicked him out. Now,with a wife, two kids, a less than great job, (unpaid)time off for a (uninsured) surgical fix of the first surgery, and the money spent, they want it back, now, or else. I pointed out to Joe, that he doesn’t owe enough , and that if he could somehow pull off a Corzinian feat of financial wizardry, he would be in a better bargaining position, and be treated more kindly. ( I try to be helpful ;) )

  6. mikeinportc says:

    Artur Silber , on Corzine,and James B Stewart , the NYT ‘s apparent* financial version of, Herb….er,.. David Brooks. Stewart is just shocked, absolutely shocked, that customer accounts at brokerage firms might not be safe.

    * Can’t bring myself to actually read him.

  7. dirigo says:

    Wavy Gravy knows where all the money went. He also knows where all the cracks are in the china and … the Crockery.

    Merry … Merry!

    So, as there will be no extra giblets in the gravy this season, there will also not be a way for some Dakota farmers – who had money tied up in MF Global – to get seed at a discount in time for spring planting; and, Santa’s reindeer will have to make do with expired boxes of Rice-a-Roni and water prior to their many flights, carrying the fat man and his packs.