The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week
January 31, 1997
"To know oneself is divine," they say. Or rather, one says it, quite frequently. It is an aphorism one coined. Catchy, is it not? One repeats it often, letting the rich syllables roll off one's tongue. It is one's motto, actually. For if there is a man who knows himself, it is Sir Charles Grandiose.
But it would appear that some of one's readers (who, if they were to be laid end to end--and once again, one begs for no comment, at the point--would surely reach at least from sea to shining sea, if not completely depleting the fruity plains and making the purple mountains a little less majestic, hanging thickly from them like cranberries from a Christmas tree) know themselves as well. One refers to a letter one received from 'Bothered in Bainbridge', this week:
Gentle readers, one is quite aware that not everyone has the self-confidence, the savoir faire (if one might employ the French Tongue), or the vocabulary to stride up to the offending party and thunder, "Thoughtless parents! To bring this flotsam of the gene pool, this mewling brat, into a public establishment and ruin the peace of your fellow gastronomists! The shame! The shame! Why faugh! Faugh, one cries upon you. May the heavens curse the very day this demon-spawn spring from you polyester-covered loins!" It is a highly effective manner of getting one's point across, of course. But it is not for everyone.
Consequently, one is considering bringing out a series of cards for one's readers. No, not greeting cards. One has no wish to find oneself on a rack between 'Snoopy' and 'Garfield.' These cards, printed on good stock, would be the size of a calling card, or a business card. Or for those of you with no social skills whatsoever, a Monopoly 'Get out of Gaol Free' card. Upon it would be printed a few choice words, applicable to the individual reader's pet peeve.
Only envision! Poor 'Bothered in Bainbridge' could be eating his belarded refried beans at the local 'Taco Bell' when a large rowdy family with a teething infant sits nearby. The infant cries. The infant weeps. The infant burps messily upon his mother's shoulder. And Bothered, unable to finish his Nachos Mas Granny, disgustedly (and one must shudder at this particular thought . . . one cannot help oneself) clears his own table. But after he has assumed his coat, he stops by the table of the offending family. He smiles gently. He hands the mother a small business card, bows, and retreats. Why, he is in his motor and away by the time the family has read:
Why, one can almost hear the jaws dropping against the laminated tabletops. And Bothered, smugly on his way to the Frozen Tofutti Shoppe, has made his point without confrontation.
Of course, these cards could be expanded to fit a variety of situations.
At The Theatre: Thank you so much for unwrapping a peppermint during each act. One would much rather listen to that, than Chekov.
At The Orchestra: If you would keep your mouth shut during the concert, the rest of us might hear the music. And by the way, if you're such a bloody fine critic, why aren't you employed by the newspapers?
In The Parking Lot, Tucked Beneath The Windscreen Blade: Hello. I followed you in my motor from the point you cut me off on (insert motorway here). Poor form, old chap. Next time I scratch your damned Beemer with my nail file.
In The Queue: There are others waiting behind you, you know. One of us might set your hair on fire if you don't speed it up.
For The Public Nose-Blower: Not everyone present wishes to hear 'Opus 35, Number 3: Symphony in Phlegm". Please seek a private corner, next time you wish to drain your respiratory system of every ounce of fluid.
Why, let us all think of potential cards for distribution! One invites one's readers to send in their suggestions. Surely one's readers can contribute one apiece? And we will select the best, and publish them for the Good Of All.
A smile, a nod, the handing of a card, the gentle withdrawal, with no hanging about to gloat. What could be more polite? What could be more punctilious? Why, not only has one vented, somewhat, but one has shown a fellow being a path of self-improvement. And for what other reason are we here upon this earth, but to help one another?
Reveling in that glowing, saintly feeling, one remains for yet another week,
Dear Sir Charles,
Am Captain Mikhail Grigoriev, of Russian Navy, commander of ballistic missile submarine Novograd. Several weeks ago in column you write, you offer officers and crew of Novograd 80 cases imported vodka before next patrol. Such generous gesture from great English nobleman!
However, have problem Sir Charles must be made aware of. Day before Novograd to go on patrol, large crate addressed to me appear on dock. Sailors very excited, know about vodka. We open crate. No vodka, instead 80 cases "Pabst Light Beer," 8-track tape called "Best of ABBA," and note from V. Briceland of USA. V. Briceland says he is secretary to Sir Charles, and also says, "Party down, you cold war losers!" Not sure what this mean, but think he insult Mother Russia!
Crew very upset. Beer taste like St. Petersburg tap water, but everybody drink a case in one night anyway. Nobody pass out drunk! Instead, angry sailors throw empty bottles at reactor radiation shield. Shield broken, glass and uranium all over engine room floor. Also (pardon crude language, but am in Navy), crew overflow every toilet on board. Is very bad situation. No spare parts in Murmansk (Admiral probably sold on black market), plumber refuse to come on board, and crew confined to ship as punishment. Of course, Novograd declared unfit for sea duty.
Fortunately, we have door on engine room that we keep closed, water in Murmansk harbor already polluted and smell bad anyway, and crew enjoy ABBA music with brand new Bulgarian stereo system First Officer buy last year. Anyway, Gospodin Charles, V. Briceland of USA is typical Amerikan boor. Insult Russian sailors and send them Amerikansky beer. Worse, cheat Sir Charles, who pay for vodka! But, problem can be solved. First, Sir Charles ask if Novograd available for tour. Yes, Sir Charles, Captain Grigoriev himself offer tour of ship at any time of Sir Charles convenience! Novograd stuck in Murmansk for long time. Second, can Sir Charles bring eighty cases of vodka himself when he comes? Or perhaps eighty-one. We have party in honor of English ally, and curse cheating Amerikansky! Look forward to seeing you.
Sir Charles replies:
Godspeedin Mikhail (and they say one does have not the ability to learn a foreign language!),
Shocked, one is. Shocked and appalled. However, after a long association with one's secretary, one must assure you that the lad did not likely mean harm. Oh no. Calculated malice would assume the presence of two brain cells rubbing together in that empty cranium of his, and one can assure you that they're simply Not There.
One has dispatched both of one's minions, who several rungs higher on the ladder of humanity, to Mum . . . Mim . . . Mummyosky, or whatever it is, via second class rail with the requested items. They are teetotalers. And they believe ABBA to be a rhyme scheme. One trusts that they, at least, will not fail one.
Thank you for the enticing photographs of Second Lieutenant Olga 'Boom Boom' Tsoulkis. What bulkheads! (On the Novograd, one means.)
Happy to be acquiring these nautical terms, one remains,
Professor Birdington writes:
My Dearest Sir Charles,
Please excuse this little intrusion.
As an avid reader of your work I came across a slight 'boo boo' on your part.
In a recent letter in reply to Randolph St. V. you stated that the observer of birds was an orthodontist. I do beg your pardon in this correction, but the observer of birds is an ornithologist. An orthodontist is one who enjoys torturing his patients by putting braces on their teeth. (One went to one of these people; it is most unpleasant.)
I do hope you will forgive me for this little indiscretion, in drawing your attention to this but one feels that one can not hold one's tongue.
Yours most respectfully
Sir Charles replies:
Braces on one's teeth! One was not born yesterday. Where does one button them? And if one's braces are on one's teeth, wouldn't one's trousers fall down?
As for holding one's tongue, it is not difficult. One merely pinches between the thumb and index finger, and there one has it. One does not suggest doing so in public, however, as reaching in one's mouth is general considered an activity best done in the privacy of one's bedchambers, preferably with the eyes closed and the lamps off.
Always glad to oblige, one remains,
Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe writes:
Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe
Mr. Charles Grandiose
Dear Mr. Grandiose,
My firm has recently been retained by PepsiCo, Inc. to ensure that certain libelous comments about Taco Bell, a PepsiCo Inc. subsidiary, be stopped immediately. It has come to our attention that you have made disparaging remarks about Taco Bell's products, and have even stated openly that you wish for the destruction of Taco Bell property. Your remarks are both fraudulent and incendiary, and made with clear malice. As your comments are made via the internet, we have already drawn up an injunction to prohibit your column from being distributed in the United States. We are also making arrangements with the London office of our firm to have the same done in the United Kingdom. Further, we have alerted the American FCC and its U.K. counterpart as to your actions.
Mr. Grandiose, my client is reasonable and does not wish to be forced into having these injunctions granted by a federal judge. Further, our client is greatly concerned that your ill-considered remarks may have an adverse affect on the planned major expansion of Taco Bell restaurants in the United Kingdom. We would prefer that a more peaceful resolution to the problem be found. Our client has indicated that the following actions on your part, performed before February 15, 1997, would forestall an injunction and possible civil trial for damages:
1. Removal from your Website of any previous columns mentioning Taco Bell;
As a gesture of good faith on the part of PepsiCo, Inc., and its subsidiary, Taco Bell, I have been instructed to send you by express shipment 20 Bean Burrito Platters, 20 side orders of chips with cheese dip, and 10 2-liter bottles of Mountain Dew. I trust that you and your family and friends will enjoy these delicious and wholesome PepsiCo products, and will enjoy frequenting the Taco Bell restaurant that my client has plans to open in Fishampton by June of 1997. We look forward to hearing from you soon on these matters. Otherwise, we will be forced to take action that I am sure neither you, our client, nor our law firm wishes to take.
Sir Charles replies:
My dear, dear, dear Mr. Cheatham,
One can barely pen this reply, so fizzy and buoyant is one after all that 'Mountain Doo.' And how pretty it is, all neon green in one's Queen Anne goblets!
After the correspondent's little--heh-heh, let us not mince words here, 'friendly note of admiration'--one forced one's little family to sit down at the dining table to sample the . . . well, one supposes it is safe to call it 'food.' And what a success! Why, the Lady Felicia managed to indulge in an entire Bean Burrito before succumbing to the vapours. And young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, ordinarily plagued by a tender palate (she is eightieth in line for the throne, you know), declared that if she closed her eyes and thought of England, the lard went down more smoothly than she would have expected. And as for oneself! Well, what can one say without lying outright? One had never had a more extraordinary gastronomic experience. One will remember it always.
Of course one apologizes! One takes it all back! Why, one is considering firing one's kitchen staff so that one can eat the . . . oh, who is one kidding. The stuff's rot. Sue one.
Anticipating a costly lawsuit, but with one's conscience intact, one remains,
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