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October 25, 1996
One asks one's readers (so perceptive a group that were they to close one eye and peer at the Grandiose Emeralds, presented to one's ancestors by the Archbishop of Canterbury, from a distance of full forty paces, they could still clearly discern the miniscule engraving on the clasp that reads: Shame on me for bluffing on two pair.--Bish. Generations of scholars have devoted their lives to pursuing the meaning of this mysterious phrase) to answer the following questions. What is it that a man craves as he enters his bedchamber at night? What is it that a woman desires most as she gently unlooses her bedclothes? What is it that a man aches for as he extends a questing, curious digit into an awaiting orifice? Well, in the last case, one suspects a handkerchief and an infusion of Good Manners. (One's readers know well one's views on the subject of nose-picking). But the answer to all these questions is merely: Privacy.
Yes, 'tis sweet Privacy that all men and women crave. One wishes to be alone, away from prying eyes and wagging tongues, when one is troubled, or in need, or when vulnerable. "But pooh-pooh!" one hears some scoff. "There is no privacy, in this industrialized, electronicalized, vidiotized, computerizationalized age. All one needs to know is at the push of a button."
Yet is it not privacy that separates humankind from the animals? Consider the common housecat. It will enter a room of polite society, charm those assembled in a catly way, then proceed to sit back and splay its legs whilst it munches at its naughty bits to the dismay of all and sundry. Would any human do so? Indeed not! one says. A decent man or woman would confine any moist munching to his or her own bedchambers.
Thus in the spirit of Privacy, one devotes the majority of one's preamble space to addressing several letters from correspondents who beg anonymity. Normally one does not extend this privilege to many. It is, without a doubt, infinitely more amusing to expose one's correspondents for the desperate and sad little people they are. But one will here refrain.
To Worried Wart: Now now, sir. One is certain that your neighbours will never discover your hobby unless you bandy it about. The folk on Primrose Way Lane in the quaint town of Dorrit, New Jersey, will never know that one amongst them is fond of wearing the raiment of the opposite sex while singing 'Half Breed' at the top of his lungs. Nor will one condemn this activity (it has, after all, paid one's nephew, Chauncey, quite handsomely). However, one suggests that one discreetly becurtain the windows so that the neighbours at 1218 and 1222 Primrose Way Lane not be 'surprised' when they look out their kitchen windows into your own abode.
To Anonymous, Please!: Dear Fergie: One wouldn't worry about Liz. She's just jealous. One admires your fiery red hair, oneself. Fiery as the correspondent's spirit! Fiery as the passion that causes her eyes to glint with a mocking, feminine, probing challenge . . . A challenge that promises the utter, utter surrender of body and soul to the man, the one man, the one dashedly handsome chap, perhaps a baronet or earl, who can unlock the chains that restrain this red-hot spirit. Ahem. At any rate, she and Phil haven't . . . you know . . . for years, one hears.
And finally, to Guilty Conscience in Cornwall: One hopes the correspondent feels better, having unburdened himself of those terrible, terrible crimes. And yet, one cannot help but think of the female in question, having been deprived of a position as a Lady Chemist because of the correspondent's academic fraud. Ooops! Oh dear, cries one! One's train of thought has been diverted, one is afraid, because one accidentally with one's elbow knocked the correspondent's letter (and envelope with return address) into a parcel of leftover mutton chutney destined for the headmaster of the Academy of Chemists in Training in Wodebrooke. What a pity. Now one will never be able to complete one's reply.
Assuring his readers that a certain word is one's middle name, one remains for yet another week,
Don Jorge writes:
Dear Cousin ( as we are both of the aristocracy, this applies),
I have a sad matter of the corazon weighing on my conscience. I would talk to my sacerdote about it at my next Confession but he would insist that I donate a new statue for the altar as a penance. Also, I do not want to burden any of my family, friends or anyone else I like. So that is why I am addressing you!
This summer I crossed La Linea into Gibraltar to try to convince the Governor of it rightfully belonging to Espana when I happenned upon a very beautiful older woman in kidskin gloves and tuberose parfum! Naturally, I was entranced and asked her if she would like the honor of my company. She accepted and before long, she was talking about how neglectful her husband is and how lonely she gets at her estate, having to spend her days disciplining the servants and guiding her young ward.
I invited her to my castle in the Sierra Nevada outside Granada and she happily accepted. We then danced the flamenco and poured sangria down each others throats, taking our shoes off and dancing in the fountain! As a cabellero, I cannot divulge what happenned in my four-poster canopied bed but we were both quite happy. Then, the next morning, she allowed me to lace her corset as she redressed herself and bid me adios.
I know that she is not of the Faith and is probably too old to bear the next Grande but I would so much like to see her again as she like the Vesuvius once I showed her affection. El problema is that she only gave me her first name and no address to reach her. Can you help me find her so I can duel with her esposo for her hand in matrimony? I am the best fencer in all of Espana and have kept my 500-year-old family swords razor sharp! So, please help me find her. I realize that I have very little to help you find her but, after we got quite into la sangria, she told me her name was Phyllis.
Thank you for any help!
Don Jorge de Avila, Grande de Avila
Sir Charles replies:
Ole!, vile garlicky Spaniard,
So, 'tis not good enough that we Britons proud licked your sorry hindquarters with the Golden Hind, eh? Coming back for more, are you?
The Lady Felicia, during her refreshing summer visit to El Pollo Del Mar in your country, warned one of fellows such the correspondent, who attempt to persuade English flowers to transplant themselves for an evening or two into a different bed--a bed of arid sand! She even told one tales of a despicable fellow (outlandishly named Whorehay) who cast his eyes upon her during one fetid evening, but whom she sent packing with his tail between his legs with only a single thrilling clearing of her throat.
So, sirrah, if the words you speak are truth, and if you are in the habit of seducing elderly British women, one can only assume that the 'ladies' in question are no better than common trash (as if the words were not redundant!) and deserve what they get.
The Lady Felicia is fond of both kidskin gloves and tuberose scent. One fears she will most likely abandon them upon discovery that the common elements have appropriated them.
Chili con carne, one remains,
Reynard Okshum writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
We of the Bedminster Cheery Octagenarian Glee Club and Prostate Problem Support Group (Our motto: "Awake at night, and sing!") are pleased to announce, thanks to substantial contributions from one Augusta Windover-Midden and the British Dairy Council, that the Bedminster Little House of Drama and Performing Arts has been rebuilt, and once again during the first weekend in April (with its showers even sweeter, now that we no longer have a leaky roof), the Bedminster Geriatric Madrigal Singers' Regional Competitions will be held.
Indeed, this marks our silver anniversary, and we're certain you wouldn't want to miss it, as you expressed such sorrow when we phoned you that our humble performance place had burned. Naturally, knowing what a fine supporter you've been in ages past, we have taken the liberty to reserve seats for your family at only a slightly higher price than last year. Lest you expect your usual private box, we are pleased to announce our new egalitarian seating arrangement--"festival seating," whereupon all seats are equal. This should prevent those frightful disputes that frequently broke out amongst the lower class patrons who felt slighted that their seats were not of the same quality as those of the more privileged classes. (I trust you will not mind bringing your own lawn chair.)
We have several special events planned for the occasion. Augusta Windover-Midden, our principal contributor, while not officially geriatric, has insisted upon honoring us by singing what she advertises as "rap madrigals" for a few hours. The British Dairy Council is sponsoring a special category of competition, "Madrigals to Milk By." Many infirm geriatric madrigalists, who were previously prevented from competion because they were confined to wheel-chairs and/or life support systems, are now able to compete thanks to our new handicap-access ramps and improved electrical receptacles. Consequently, competitions and entertainment will continue practically non-stop for the whole week-end. We are certain you share our excitement in this and wouldn't miss it for the world!
Looking forward to having you grace us with your presence, I remain
Reynard Okshum, Esq.
Sir Charles replies:
My dear Mr. Okshum,
One is afraid that one has a previous engagement that very weekend. One has been persuaded--nay, begged--to provide one's expert opinion that weekend in quite a different sort of fete than the jolly festivities your Bedminster Cheery Octagenarian Glee Club and Prostate Problem Support Group have laboured to produce. Quite different indeed. A sort of horse-and-rider judging competition.
One is dreadfully sorry, of course, to have to miss the Bedminster Geriatric Madrigal Singers' Regional Competitions. Oh, what larks one could have, in a 'lawn chair', mingling with the proletariats and scruffy chip shop workers, listening to the endless rounds of one's mother-in-law singing 'rap madrigals.' (A helpful hint from one chap to another: 'Gusty's' singing voice has an unusual side-effect that many of the groundsmen of Blandsdown exploited during her interminable stay here. That is, if you wish the paint peeled off something, merely place it within twenty feet of the stage, and within seconds of her first melodic phrase, the deed is done! No muss, no fuss, and a minimum of clean-up afterwards!)
One begs, however, that the Cheery O's will think sympathetically of one as one judges filly after filly in the town of Cheeke during the re-creation of Lady Godiva's ride. Running one's hands over their smooth shanks, and dispassionately judging the parade of smooth, fine manes . . . objectively assessing the dressage and form . . . remaining firm while observing the mandatory jumps . . . not allowing a single bead of perspiration to bedew one's manly brow as one breathlessly watches the obligatory fence-jumps . . . inspecting the side-saddles. . . .
Good G-d! Where is a glass of water when one needs one?
Thirstily, one remains,
Although I am one of your exceedingly large number of regular readers, I have been content with merely perusing the noble advice that you offer. However, I now have a problem of my own.
I am a teenager male who has been overly fond of the Internet, or so my parents believe. As they have caught me 'red-handed' browsing web sites of which they do not approve (as you are a recipient of a certain catalogue, you surely sympathize), I can no longer utilize my computer to connect with others. The material in question is not a problem, since I can step outside to the corner magazine store, but I do miss the comraderie found in the teen chat rooms; thus I ask you for help.
I have read your previous column on a similar situation, but patricide is, unfortunately, not an option for me (at least, not a possibility. I have tried). What can I do to convince him of his grave mistake? Or, at least, to whom of my own age can I speak of busty broads?
Rather frustratingly awaiting your reply,
Sir Charles replies:
Ah, the 'teen-aged' years. How stirring the pulse of the blood in the veins! How immediate the hungers! How hot and pressing is every urge! How quickly matters seem to pop up with the brush of every little breeze!
Fear not, lad. It will pass. One day you will wake up in your solitary four-poster, shave, dress, and pass beneath the portraits of your illustrious ancestors in the great hallway of the east wing of your manor, when you will notice that a servant has left the door ajar to your wife's chambers. The blood will quicken; the heart will beat faster. You will venture forth on tip-toe, to take a peek. Will your lady wife be a dishabille? Will she espy the naughty husband through the crack in the door, and summon the bad boy in for a spanking with the backs of her tortoiseshell brushes?
No. She will be in a 'mud pack' and terry-cloth robe, eating mutton chutney on water crackers, reading Mme. Berlips' Guide To Mastering the Spanish Tongue. And then, dear boy, you will never have to fear a suddenly-pitched tent again, if you know what one means.
Still shuddering, one remains,
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