Lord Gray has invited you to the annual ball at his mansion. But being a socially awkward person, there's nothing you could dread more than being called upon to dance in a huge bright hall filled with all sorts of people. However, Lord Gray is a boisterous and insistent chap who won't take no for an answer.
You're not the only invitee who feels insecure, though. And you've heard that he's left a way for people like you to excuse yourselves. Lord Gray will stand at the gate as he introduces each guest to his wife. If you show up and give a reason for not attending that satisfies him, he'll let you go.
On the appointed evening, sure enough, Lord Gray awaits, along with his wife in her signature spaghetti-string dress. Feels like a recipe for disaster, if there ever was one. You decide to wait behind the others to figure out what you should be saying.
Albert is the first one up.
"Meet Albert, dear!" says Lord Gray, playfully poking Albert in the belly. "Nice lad, but it doesn't take much to frighten him; he's a real scaredy cat!"
"Ulp... I'm... I'm sorry Lord Gray," says Albert, "I... I think I'm coming down with something... The doctor said it... it might be jaundice... So I need to... to... er... rest."
"Very well," replies Lord Gray as Albert quickly slips away.
Hmmm. That seemed pretty simple.
Percy is next.
"Ah, Percy! Percy!" Lord Gray greets him with a full-blooded warm hug. "What a wonderful family he comes from! Truly a noble man."
"I beg to take your leave Lord Gray," says Percy, "I've just been feeling so gloomy and downcast these days, I'm really not in the mood."
Lord Gray nods as Percy bows and shuffles across.
This looks easy.
Dennis strolls up.
Lord Gray mutters to his wife, "Be on your guard, dear. This one is a wolf in sheep's clothing."
He then asks, "Why Dennis, you despicable cad! What are you down to these days?"
"Oh, a little smuggling, a bit of extortion," Dennis replies, "But just this morning I got into an altercation and had my eye bruised, so I can't stay."
And with that he walks off as Lord Gray smiles.
Okay... Just about any excuse seems to work.
Finally, it's your turn.
"Welcome!" says Lord Gray, as his valet hands him a little horn. "This greeting is just for you!" "Toot, toot!" goes the horn.
You look at him, confused.
"You're new here, aren't you?" says Lord Gray, "Still learning the ropes, eh?"
"Why... Uh... yes," you reply, "And there's really a lot of work that I need to get back to... So... ummm... I'll just be going then..."
"Oh, but we really can't let you leave now," he says as he firmly grips your arm, as his wife tugs you by the other one.
As you're helplessly led inside to the agonizing bright lights and the infernal sounds of squeals of laughter, you wonder:
What should you have replied?