“Do you think,” asked my friend, “that Hyacinth Bucket, I mean Bouquet, on the BBC show Keeping Up Appearances is a narcissist?”

“Well, I’ll reserve the show from the library,” said I thriftily, “and I’ll let you know.”

Hours of laughter later, I have a new favorite show and you have my answer: Yes!! Hyacinth Bouquet isn’t just a narcissist, she wrote the book. And yet I still find the show hilarious. Cathartic but still hilarious!

Then a thought occurred. I wonder if Hyacinth would be willing to write an article about narcissism for Narcissism Meets Normalcy? It wasn’t hard to find her number in the directory. In fact, it was in bold type! So I rang her up.

“The BOUQUET residence. The lady of the house speaking!” a falsetto voice answered the phone. Even at eight-eight, Hyacinth hasn’t lost her joie de vivre.

“Mrs. Bucket, please,” I asked innocently, winking devilishly at my husband.

“It’s Bouquet,” the voice sounded tired and peeved.

“Oh, hello Mrs. Bouquet,” said I. “I’m a blogger for PsychCentral based in the United States. I was wondering if you would consider writing an article about narcissism to be featured in my blog?”

“Well, how flattering, Dear!” she squealed. “Of course, I’m not sure what ‘narcissism’ means. Are you referring to the candlelit supper circle of society in which I am most influential?”

“Uh, yeah. That’s what I meant,” said I, smiling wickedly.

“Well, I would be delighted!” she cooed, “but I must run. Just have to catch the postman.” I heard her try to replace the handset of her private slimline pearl white push-button digital telephone with automatic last-number redial, miss the cradle and her receding footsteps echoing on her lacquered woodblock floor, then her strident tones, “Is this really all the mail you have for this residence? Are you quite sure? The name is Bouquet, B-U-C-K-E-T, Bouquet. Dear me, that’s a terrible twitch you have. You really should see a doctor about it. But won’t you just check in your mailbag again? I only received one hundred and twenty Christmas cards last Christmas. I’m sure the sorting office must’ve misdirected at least thirty or forty cards. You will have a word with them, won’t you?!”

I hung up quickly before she could hear my laughter. Sure enough, two weeks later her article arrived in my mailbox, written in an elegant hand on the poshest of stationery, along with a standing invitation to pop in anytime, should I find myself in Great Britain.

Yeah, that’ll be the day!

So, here, for your reading enjoyment is Hyacinth “Bouquet’s” Guide to Narcissism for the Discriminating Narcissist.

Dear Americans,

Should you aspire to the rarefied social circle in which I find myself, you may find yourself at a loss on how to proceed. After all, we are not all “to the manor born.” I was myself born of the most honorable parentage, but have risen even further in society through my winsome personality, charity and hospitality. The old-age pensioners (Senior Citizens to you) simply clamour for me to sing for them while my neighbor, Emmet, is so in-love with me that he turns pale and searches for the nearest exit when our eyes meet.

There may be a moment when, in your social climb, more humble members of your family intrude themselves. I myself had one such instance occur in the very first episode of the first season of my reality show, Keeping Up Appearances.

As an aside, I will add that while many people consider Kimberly Kardashian to be the first reality television superstar, it was in fact myself. Members of the lower classes labour under the delusion that Keeping Up Appearances was mere fiction. Au contraire! It was actually the interesting reality of my day-to-day life starring myself as the first reality television star. But alas, the hoi polloi were unable to recognize my brilliance and the show was canceled after only five seasons. Still, I console myself that the Kardashian’s borrowed the “Keeping Up” title of their rather pedestrian show from mine.

But I digress.

As I was saying, it is imperative that your rise in social stature not be marred by lower members of your family intruding themselves. I myself had one such embarrassing instance occur in Episode 1 of Season 1 when Dear Daddy was admitted to hospital sustaining serious injuries from a most heroic act. My sister Daisy, who married beneath all of us when she tied the knot with that bounder, Onslow, will tell you that Daddy is senile and chased the milkwoman in the, erm, ahem, “altogether.”

This cannot possibly be the case. In reality, Dear Daddy was simply rescuing a Damsel in Distress when he dove into the canal and all his clothing were dissolved by the toxic industrial waste. Now that is what really occurred. Should you have such embarrassing events occur in your social climb, I urge you to follow my example of finding a much more reasonable and sophisticated explanation for the events and strike from your mind anything else. Cling to your reality. I believe in America you use something called BleachBit to remove negative data. What a jolly idea!

My second piece of advice as you reach for what my friend, Lenora, calls “narcissism” is simply this: don’t be stingy with the pounds sterling. That would be “dollars” to you in the States. My husband, Richard, is apt to be stingy, especially when it comes to Mummy’s darling boy, Sheridan. But you absolutely cannot Keep Up Appearances without laying out some money! My son, Sheridan and that nice boy, Tarquin, he lives with sleep in the finest 100% silk pajamas. I insist upon it! My own wardrobe is ready for any contingency. I could never countenance embarrassing Richard without the perfect dress, the perfect hat, the perfect handbag and spotless white gloves for every occasion.

My house is also beyond spotless. You can pop in at any time of the day or night and every dish will be washed. Or would be, if my neighbor Elizabeth, was not constantly dropping my Royal Doulton china with the hand-painted periwinkles and dribbling biscuit crumbs on my floor. Did I tell you that she’s all thumbs?

But we must do something about the car. My sister Violet, you know, the one who married a turf accountant, with a large house, swimming pool, and room for a pony, has a Mercedes. I do hope Richard will stop being so tight with money and show more ambition in his career. Then, certainly, we could afford a Mercedes too. Do you know I actually found him reading a newspaper the other day. Just imagine! I feel the role of a good wife is keep your husband motivated. I motivate Richard constantly.

All that to say that with a little careful management of the less savory members of your family and a little outlay of money, you too can aspire to the esoteric and recherché circles of “narcissism” and the candlelit social circle which I myself enjoy.

Cordially Yours,

Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet)

Photo by internetsense