September 24, 2001
When one was a young lordling, a mere stripling of a noble thing barely out of knee-pants, one's Pater sadly passed away. What a terribly sad time it was for the Grandiose family--and how terribly inconvenient it was to be without a usable bathtub or toaster, after that unfortunate accident. One recalls how one's Aunt Arachne came for a month to look after onesself and one's younger brother. A terrible woman, Aunt Arachne. Fond of laxatives and cod's liver oil.
We were but lads then, not even yet in our teens. We had no thoughts of mischief in our hearts, during those sad and heavy days. But the day of the funeral Aunt Arachne came upon us playing a game of Snap in the parlor, and laughing a little the way boys do. "You should be ashamed!" she cried. "Your father is dead! And here you are laughing as if nothing has happened!"
"Is it so wrong to laugh?" asked one's younger brother.
"It is a disgrace to laugh in a time of grief!" she replied sternly, and separated us forthwith. For the rest of the time she lived with us, we work black clothes, somber faces, and miserable expressions that corresponded exactly with our inner feelings.
Yet is it a terrible thing to laugh in a time of grief, even if that grief is on a monumental scale? Readers, one thinks not. Death is the most extraordinary event, and in extraordinary times, we humble humans yearn for nothing more than ordinary lives. There is nothing wrong with yearning to laugh in a time of horror and fear. It is a reminder of why we live.
Those among the living who would deny us that enjoyment mourn in their own way, much as Aunt Arachne mourned for one's father. But one rather pities these poor creatures whose self-righteousness leads them to deny others an enjoyment of life even in difficult times.
What a strange creature is man--and how fragile is each one of us. Let us tread but lightly upon each other in the coming days. But let us not begrudge laughter. It should be a valued commodity.
With a bit of a smile, one remains for yet another fortnight,
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 camaraderie 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,
dear sir charles:
i am wurried about my sister. she seems too fond of lesbeans. her house is full of them all the time. she drinks lots of erbal tea now and wears berkinstocks and went to a K.D. Lang concurt. if she sees your advise she will stop i am shure. please tell her.
Sir Charles replies:
By all means, you should be worried for your poor sister. This insidious influence will tear her from the bosom of your family! She will no longer be your sweet sister, but a despised outcast, should you allow her to continue on this certain path to depraved ruin!
Legumes, or as the French call them les beans, are notorious for the noxious vapours they can induce in the ingester. Why, after indulging in a three-bean salad, one's own third cousin four times removed, Eugenia Grandiose-Boosey, was disinherited for a particularly vile display of flatulence during a Guy Fawkes day celebration. (She quite drowned out the family's squibs and sparklers, and even the Catherine-wheel.)
Surely, madame, you would not wish your sister also to remain, for the rest of her life, known as 'Miss Fonda Frijoles and Her All-Gassy Revue.'
Poor cousin Eugenia!
Smelling only of a masculine toilet water, one remains,
Lady Amanda writes:
Dear Lady Felicia,
I can't tell you how refreshing it was to hear someone remember me from the ball! Some people, though I shall mention no names, are of the opinion that I wore the same dress as the Princess Anne, not vice versa.
Mother was thrilled to hear from you again! She so looks forward to reading your column every week. I hope this letter finds you in good health, my lady, as my mother and I so dearly hope. It has occurred to me that I haven't had the pleasure of your presence since the ball at Derbyshire. I do dearly hope I will meet with you soon, as Lady Sara Wilson has invited me to a party of hers. Of course you shall be invited, for what sort of party would it be without you?
I want to thank you for your kind advice also. I have not given up the young gentleman (though he is not an ambassador) and I shall listen to my heart. Thank you so kindly.
The Lady Felicia replies:
My dear Lady Amanda,
Who has faced the jibes and barbs of many a self-styled critic more than I, I ask you, when it comes to the affaires du couture? Jealousy. That's all it is, my dear. Jealousy.
Do you recall the time, Lady Amanda, that I wore to the Somerset Heart of the Dark Continent Themed Ball and Whist Tournament my stunning gown trimmed with tigerskin and ivory beads, with matching elbow-length gloves of baby seal and my alligator purse? Why, you yourself said you had never seen me look so radiant. And one could tell, by the talk and the whispering, that one had aroused not only a sensation, by wearing the most scrumptious confection at the ball, but that one had aroused envy as well. Thus the comparisons to this 'Cruella de Ville' woman one has never heard of. One cannot find her in the peerage.
And oh, the shame, when the dirty 'animal rights activists' attempted to toss buckets of red paint upon one! Thankfully they missed completely, and hit one's husband instead. There's plenty of silk to be had for men's suits, but tigerskin and ivory are so dear in these sad days. Between you and I, Lady Amanda, one does believe that these ruffians were hired by the Honourable Lavinia Phrumpp, with whom both you and I have had contretemps in the past.
But one rises above the fray, when it comes to dress. And thus, my dear, should you.
Serenely, and with best regards to your mother, one remains