July 24, 2000
I, Lady Felicia Grandiose, normally would never thrust myself to the forefront of my husband's concerns. However, a timely question from a reader, combined with a lingering exhaustion prompted by a certain 'joke' in last week's column, has prompted me to encourage Sir Charles to take a break from his usual prefatory comments today.
I reproduce the letter below:
My dear Anna I have been giving this topic a great deal of thought lately and only last week completed a lecture series with my local Dorcas Society on the marital applications of the cattle prod! The girls were very enthusiastic about my little lectures and were eager to try the techniques outlined in the pamphlet I wrote to accompany the lectures, A Bride's Guide to Effective Cattle Prodding. This handy booklet covers all the important topics, including:
To briefly summarize the lectures: Cattle prods are a particularly effective marital tool in the early years of a marriage when the husband is young and trainable. (Please note the use of the word "tool" as opposed to "weapon". I believe that a husband must be cultivated, not subjugated.) Again, in the later years of a marriage, the cattle prod can be helpful when the husband has become too senile to profit from his early training. (Higher voltages may become necessary as the husband ages. They do become remarkably stubborn and can seemingly sleep through anything.)
In the middle years of a marriage, however, when a husband is in his "prime", if you will, the cattle prod loses some of its effectiveness. Of course, by this time, a wife will have developed other more subtle techniques for handling her husband. If his early training has been successful, one will not need to resort to the prod at all. A glance, a raised eyebrow, or occasionally a low buzzing murmur of "Dzzzt! Dzzzt!" for his ears alone should really be all that is required to keep one's husband at heel.
In those rare instances when the subtle reminder does not work, a wife should have other equally jolting tools at her disposal. The tool I prefer above all others is information. You will agree, I am sure, that a wife is in a unique position to obtain information about a husband. Good will and a steady stream of information can be obtained from valets, secretaries, and chauffeurs if one treats them with liberality and largesse. In addition, the wifely duties of straightening the sock drawer, glove drawer, hat shelf, bedside table, coat pockets, and the inside linings of luggage can also yield a fund of information. And information - shocking, painful, secret information - freely shared by the wife in a public forum, is something husbands fear above all else.
Shall we take an example of this from my own marriage with Sir Charles? Readers of Sir Charles' column in recent weeks will have noticed no doubt a sort of barbed feistiness in his commentary - particularly in his comments about oneself. One happens to know that these episodes of fevered derring-do most often occur in the days immediately following Sir Charles' monthly visit to his hairdresser. One has learned that these ministrations make Sir Charles feel young again. He feels quite the dashing buck and so he indulges himself in connubial banter with Jason, his gaily boyish young hairdresser. One might be inclined to forgive this out of wifely generosity, but the references to "wasp-like barbs" and "poison stingers" and jokes about age have left one feeling unforgiving. This, Anna dear, is clearly a case of a husband getting a bit out of hand, don't you agree? Some correction is required, yes? Allow me to demonstrate how one uses information to encourage good behavior in Sir Charles:
One would just like to mention that one thoroughly approves of Sir Charles' choice of hairdresser. He is a charming boy and obviously very talented.
So you see how a resourceful and observant wife can acquire and apply the information necessary to keep her husband in line. For my part, I am confident that the readers of Sir Charles' column will be hearing from a kinder, gentler Sir Charles in future weeks. If, however, Sir Charles is feeling defiant and vengeful, Sir Charles should know that one has withheld some useful information. A wife should be careful not to expend all of her precious information on one episode of correction! For example, one happens to know all about the night Sir Charles spent marooned on the island in the lake with Edna Thistle, Mrs (Edna Wortbottom, Miss, at the time in question), and how he . . . ah, but I must follow my own advice and keep something in reserve.
Good luck with your own beast, Anna. I have a feeling you'll need it.
Serenely, one remains,
My wife can't cook or clean and she's getting older by the second. I'd leave her out in the backyard for the vultures, but even carrion birds have their standards.
Got any advice for getting rid of the old bag of bones?
Sir Charles replies:
Cherish your old bag of bones. Hold her near and dear to your heart.
A wife's good name is not to be bandied about with callous, cold words. One should never refer to her as 'the bottom nine-tenths of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic,' or 'somewhat like the concept of Absolute Zero, only a bit more nippy.' One should not say that her face brings to mind 'tender memories of medical waste rotting in the sun.' One should not say that her dulcet voice remind one of 'the post-gorging workings of a particularly flatulent bowel of hell.'
However tempting it may be, refrain. For it is unseemly, ungentle, and unkind for a husband so to do. Besides, your wife may have recently been reading Chapter Six of the Lady Felicia's A Bride's Guide to Effective Cattle Prodding: "Tender Parts for High Voltage Smarts."
Still applying unguent to the welt, one remains,
hello my name is erik, my girl friend used to kiss me and now all of the sudden she says that she doesnt injoy kissing me. she also said that i am smothering her, like that i am spending to much time with her and i am getting on her nerves.
Sir Charles replies:
If you can hear them talk when you're smothering them, you're not pressing down on pillow firmly enough.
With fond memories of great-aunt Marthe, one remains,
A Curious Entrepreneur
Sir Charles replies:
One's story is of hard work and diligence, of study, concentration, and application. As a boy, one always had an eye for an opportunity, so one collected gooseberries and sold them by the road for tuppence a pint. When one had amassed the princely sum of two shillings, one created the first Sir Charles Grandiose Manners Cards, and sold them to members of the gentry for a discreet amount that one promptly invested into shares in British Rail. A change of investment strategy forced one to conclude that Curry futures were the wave of the future, and one was proved right when one's portfolio zoomed to an astonishing near-fourteen pounds at the mere age of twelve!
And then one's father met with an unfortunate accident in the bathtub involving an electric radio, and left one several million pounds, the estate, and holdings in several third-world countries, including Canada.
Looking back upon one's glorious rise with nostalgia, one