Preparing for the Best

Thanks to the mega-selling Worst-Case Scenario handbooks, we now know how to cope with charging bulls, plunging elevators and runaway locomotives

How to be a Nobel Peace laureate

1. Feign astonishment when the media call at 3 A.M.

2. Hint that the prize money will be used to "further the cause." Don’t worry, this in no way legally obligates you to actually share it.

3. Resist the temptation to intervene in disputes outside your expertise. Participants in bar fights, domestic disputes and traffic accidents may not appreciate your attempts to mediate. Trying to reason with them—"Yo, I’m a @#$%ing Nobel Peace laureate!"—may only inflame the situation.

4. Exercise discretion when wearing the Nobel medal. It is often an excellent ice-breaker but is best not displayed on first dates; hanging from the rear-view mirror to get out of speeding tickets; or at job interviews.

How to cope with a polite teenage child

1. Ask, "What’s wrong?"

2. Inspect your car for fresh dents.

3. Look for telltale signs of drug use: persistent smiling, hugging, laughter, insistence on smelling the roses, generalized delight in life.

4. If you find no dents or drugs, accept your good luck.

5. Make sure the teenager is present whenever other parents are invited over. Act nonchalant when the teenager stands as adults enter the room, shakes their hands while looking them in the eye, and makes effortless small-talk. ("Gosh, Mrs. Smith, that’s a gorgeous dress!") When jealous parents express amazement, shrug and say, "We really can’t take any credit for it." If they press you for your secret, tell them, "Love. Just love."

6. Innocently ask how their teenagers are doing, such as: "So, how many nose rings does Sydney have now?" Listen to their sad tales, interjecting supportive comments:

- "Oh, I wouldn’t be too hard on him if I were you. They all go through a Satan-worshiping phase."
- "They’re not really going to prosecute Bob Junior, are they?"

How to be a British monarch

1. Go to the nearest balcony. Wave. For the properly tight wrist motion, pretend to unscrew a light bulb. If you have no idea how to change a light bulb—and why would you?—pretend you are polishing an orange.

2. Always carry scissors. If you pass a hospital, school or agricultural research center, open it.

3. To keep the Continent “on its toes,” hint that you are making military plans for “another crack at the Hun.”

4. If anyone tries to start a conversation with you, turn to staff and announce, “Off with his head!” In the modern era, alas, your order may not be obeyed. But you will have reminded the public that no one is supposed to speak to a monarch without being spoken to first. It’s the job’s best perk. Don’t waste it.

5. View skeptically your oldest child’s suggestions for “exciting” new recreations. Do not redeem gift certificates for lessons in skydiving, Grand Prix auto racing or rock climbing.

6. Once a year, generate a scandal to keep the respectable media interested. You owe it to the British economy. A year without a royal indiscretion could trigger massive unemployment among the empire’s journalists, ink suppliers and mug manufacturers.

7. Once a century, abdicate.

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