Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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November 8, 1999

Picture: An Imperfect Match. Still, You Sit Upon ItIt is an undoubted human tendency to simplify the complexities of everyday life. Our existences are fraught with intricacies and imbroglios. Our personal lives are a warren of dark and complicated passageways, each fraught with memory and danger. Naturally, it is easier to think of them as straight and narrow paths.

One cannot condemn this natural urge. When a loved one dies, it is easier to simplify and explain to one's children that Grandmama has gone on to heaven, where she is wearing wings and playing canasta forevermore, than to verbalize the inchoate feelings of loss and anger and desertion against a cruel world that has taken her from the family.

And yet.

It started with the Lady Felicia interrupting one's reflections by shouting "WAKE UP!" at top volume in one's ear. Ignoring one's protests that one was not sleeping, but rather resting one's eyes while ruminating upon one's next column, she proceeded to (and one's gentle lady readers might wish either to close their eyes at this point, or remove themselves from the room entirely, for one will be discussing a topic so rude, so modern, so very brutal that their sensibilities may be adversely affected) lead one to the downstairs loo near the third-best parlour. Upon attaining the room, she gestured to the (and again, one's gentle lady readers are twice warned to vacate themselves from the premises, lest they burst their corsets with the gasp sure to results from the next noun in the main clause of this sentence) porcelain fixture with disgust. "What could be wrong, lady wife?" one inquired in puzzled tones.

"You've left the seat up again," said she. "'Tis emblematic of everything that is wrong with men--they are thoughtless and stupid." Whereupon she marched out of the room in a high dudgeon.

One's point, readers (and save for perhaps seventy to eighty percent of one's two hundred odd columns, have one's readers ever known one not to have a point?) is thus: It may be the universal tendency to simplify one's woes, but this toilet seat issue (oh dear . . . one forgot to warn the ladies, this time) takes things a bit too far.

Why is leaving the seat up a sin? Why has it been made emblematic, in today's culture, of the alleged inconsideration of the male sex? "Oh, Sir Charles," object many of one's female readers. "You don't know how awful it is in the middle of the night to sit down in the dark and find one's bum adhering to cold, clammy porcelain." Well, ladies, one has this to say: Turn on the bloody light.

Firstly, the female sex does itself no favours by portraying itself as unintelligent sorts of beings. Ask a lady whether or not it's worthwhile for a woman to go to college, and she'll lecture your ear off, but then she'll turn around and willingly portray herself as having a bovine mentality that can't take the trouble of looking to see whether the seat is up or not.

More importantly, why is it the imperative to the male sex to lower the seat after every use? Is it really so inconvenient for the ladies to swing the seat downward upon its hinges? It is, after all, an equal amount of work for the man to lift it when he needs to do his duty. Moreso, if one takes into account that the man is working against the natural tendencies of gravity. Therefore, why do not women lift the seat after every use? It seems as equally sensical an argument.

At any rate, for the sake of peace between one's wife and oneself, one has now employed a girl to stand at attention in the loo near the third-best parlour, whose only duty is to lift and lower the seat for the occupant. One strongly suggests that other households follow one's lead.

Happy to have solved the sources of so much domestic discord, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Cheryl writes:

Picture: A Final RepositoryDear Sir Charles,

I was reading through your past columns and saw you don't believe in miracles or superstitious nonsense. Well, I am going to prove you wrong. A miracle happened in my family and there were many people who witnessed it!

My grandmother died at the age of 70 a few decades back, and when they were carrying out the coffin the pallbearers accidentally hit it against a wall when they were rounding a corner. Then there was a sound, and when they opened the coffin to see what it was, my grandmother was still alive!!!

They took her out of the coffin and she rejoined her husband and lived for ten more years.

This is a true story. Over twenty of my relatives witnessed it. So, what do you think of that, Mister Smarty-Pants?


Sir Charles replies:

Dear Cheryl,

What does one think? One rather suspects that your grandfather, when they were carrying out the casket at the second funeral service, probably called out, "Watch out for that wall!"

That's what one thinks.

Thinking that it is always the best sartorial move to wear trousers as intelligent as possible, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Tabu writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

What exactly is the sound of one hand clapping?


Sir Charles replies:

Dear One Whose Parents Were So Singular Uninventive That They Named Their Offspring After A Particularly Vile 'Perfume' So Cheap And Noxious That It Makes Squeezing The Hind End Of A Muskrat Into A Bucket Seem Like Chanel In Comparison,

One begs the correspondent to place one's ear against an ordinary household fan. Does the correspondent hear the whistling noise that comes out the other ear, amplified by the vast enclosed empty space between the two organs?

That is exactly what one hand clapping sounds like.

Wishing for the good old days when parents could actually use the dictionary, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: The Elevator AlternativeBetty  writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Thanks SOOOOOOO MUCH for your last answer to my letter! I was making a squash casserole when I read it, and I just got all excited and put in DOUBLE the required amount of sour cream and Funyuns! It made the casserole turn out so much better! I didn't really understand the part about the monkeys, but I assume it's some kind of great British metaphor! Wow!

I have another question for you, which I know you'll be able to answer in just as whimsical and charming a way as you did all the other ones I sent! And besides, I was even more excited, while reading the last answer you gave out, because I found out from someone who KNOWS, that, were your readership any more massive, it would cause a huge hole in the planet, making an instant underground railway all the way to China! Wow!

Here's my question: If you're all by yourself when you get on an elevator, and there's a bad smell in there, and then you ride all the way to the top of the building to get off, and there's a whole bunch of people waiting to get on, do they all think you were the one who farted in there? Wow!

I'm just really excited thinking about what you might say to this!

With love and violets,
Mrs. Betty Eveready,
formerly of Jujube, Mississippi

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Mrs. Eveready,

One is often puzzled by issues raised by one's readers. The questions can be thought-provoking, challenging, and evocative of the many dilemmas that beset today's society. Some are philosophical in nature, and some require so much thought that one retires to one's bedchambers, fatigued by the sheer effort.

Of course your letter, Mrs. Eveready, is none of these things. In fact, the biggest puzzle of the letter is: What topics did you ultimately reject as 'too distasteful to write about'? The mind boggles.

Feeling in need of a hot bath, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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