August 27, 2001
'Tis the season to be jolly.
Or so some would have one's readers think. (And one has it from an unimpeachable source that the number of one's readers is so many that were each a single small Seville orange, Wales could be supplied with marmalade for an entire century, and the resultant pile of pips could be fashioned, with some ingenuity and no little amount of glue, into an astonishing scale likeness of the Taj Mahal.) One had a distressing encounter just recently that one wishes to share--let it be a cautionary tale for the wary.
One's readers know well that one rarely indulges in that activity known as 'shopping.' When one requires the season's new clothing, one's tailors arrive from London's most exclusive suit-makers, Littlefoot and Widebum. When one requires reading matter, one sends the servants to the stationers. When one is in need of a personal anniversary or Christmas gift for the Lady Felicia, such as nose hair clippers or a hot pad for her lower regions, one sends one's secretary to the shops. Naturally, one has to give the feeble-minded lad specific instructions lest he return with something as dire as an 'eight track tape' by a hard-core rock-and-roll band such as ABBA.
But one was in a bit of a sticky situation, quite literally. One had inadvertently spilled a bit of honey upon the clothing of a poor girl who happened to be doing one a bit of a favor when the accident occurred. Naturally one's gallantry rose to the fore. One immediately offered to replace the damaged garment in question after the girl mentioned that her larger older brother's best friend was in the employ of one of the United Kingdom's most widely-circulated tabloid newspapers.
So into the shops one went, carrying the garment. One met with unsuccess. When one showed it to the manageress at Marks and Spencer, she claimed they didn't carry anything tarty. A blatant lie, as one had seen quite a quantity of fruit pies on display in the comestibles department. Finally one ended up at a quite patriotically named establishment: Victoria's Secret. If our good Queen kept secrets such as those, one can only say that her lips were tighter than a squiffy spendthrift tightrope walker in tights and a straight-jacket.
One displayed the damaged goods to the shopmistress. "My, you do like 'em busty, don't you?" she said to one.
With dignity one drew oneself up for a scathing retort. And then one saw it. There upon a display of peignoirs decorated with fringe and caribou feathers, sat a miniature tree decorated with glass balls. "Is that . . . a Christmas tree one spies?"
"Why yes!" said that hard-bitten matron of mercantile. "Our customers often like to get their Christmas shopping done early."
"In AUGUST?" one demanded in thundering tones. Naturally, one had more to say, but store security was summoned and there was a bit of a row before one was escorted from the building.
But one asks one's readers. Christmas? In August? 'Tis an outrage to the very sensibilities! Christmas is a time of winter and snow, of holly and ivy, of frost and snowmen, of reindeers and grandma! It is not a time of heat and sand, of humidity and soaring temperatures, of one's psychiatrist leaving town for the month and not responding to his answering service the way he promised when one has the recurring dream of running from a large snake in one's nursery and finding one's elderly Uncle Ned sitting in one's bathtub.
Readers, one begs. Put your collective feet down. Frequent not these shops that attempt to foist upon us yearly an earlier and earlier Christmas buying season! Boycott them entirely!
Naturally one will ne'er again darken the doors of that particular establishment, one can safely say! Nor will one need to, as one had fortunately filled out a postal card requesting a seasonal catalogue, before the incident in question. One always appreciates new--ahem--reading material.
And yet for another week one remains,
Two years ago I came all the way from Europe and married an American. For imposing reasons, we married in a rush, without knowing how very different we really were.
Little by little, all the dark sides come out and I'm growing more and more disappointed. I know the classic marriage vows "for better or for worse", but I never thought that the "worse" would include name calling and total lack of respect (as well as intimacy).
I do not wish to return to Europe (at least not now), but I am also young, unexperienced, and with not much understanding of marriage. What would you say I do? Stick to it or call it quits?
Sir Charles replies:
What a facile answer it would be to ask what else did you expect, marrying an American? How could you expect respect from a man growing up in a country in which he doubtless learned at his mother's knee the phrase, "Up your nose with a rubber hose?"
Yet life is not so simple. Not every American is a brash, witless vulgarian. One found Pierre Trudeau to be quite charming, when one met him.
Simply put, young Confused. If life is not to your satisfaction, make changes to it. Leaving a spouse is a difficult decision and due to a particularly tricky prenuptial contract one that one hopes one never has to make. But it is less difficult than living a life in which every breath and thought is foul. If you cannot effect change within the marriage, effect change within your life and make it better.
With that inspirational thought, one remains,
Dear Sir Charles,
I am constantly impressed by your fabulous advice . . . so inspiring . . . by the way, what is a fortnight? Is it a night you spend in a fort? Do you feel very inspired by this kind of hobby, and that's why you keep coming up with such wonderful answers for things? Oh do tell, I'm dying of curiosity.
Sir Charles replies:
Little Betty, so full of questions,
Despite what you might suspect, a fortnight is not a particularly flatulent evening after a good meal of beans. A fortnight is a period of two weeks. Fourteen nights. See how nicely it works?
One is also constantly impressed by one's fabulous advice. As for the reason that one keeps coming up with answers for things--well. It's quite simple, really. Some people, when they retire into the loo to do their business, take a newspaper with them to occupy their time.
One hates the newsprint all over one's fingers. And what else is there to do, really?
Always ready to flush the world with one's good advice, one remains,
Dear Sir Charles,
I have just discovered you site and have to say ,with much vigor, that it is a very great site indeed.
I was wondering if one would be inclined to share where one obtains all of the graphics that are on display here. I would most appreciate finding such a vast resource of art.
Sir Charles replies:
My dear Tobias,
Greatness needs no qualifier. It is not a 'very' great site. Just as Rome was great, just as Alexander himself was Great, one's site is a Great Site. Modestly one suggests it is the greatest of the great sites.
As for the so-called graphics, they are culled from the exclusive Grandiose Collection on display in one's country estate of Blandsdown, which is open to the public on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:00, admission a mere twenty-five pounds. One heartily invites all one's readers to come view this exclusive collection, which is the finest in all of lovely _______shire.
Take the M-1 to the _____ exit, and turn right onto ______ton road. Follow to the lovely village of Fishampton, and ask any of the inhabitants for directions, except for Edna Thistle, Mrs., who has been known to mislead hapless tourists to her own chunky bracelet gift shop.
Magnanimously, one remains,