Thursday, July 15, 2010

7/15 - Tied, Taken - Anything but Shaken

Well, after the left elbow has decided to be questionable for the past six weeks, the shoulder has decided to be painful as well. At this rate, who knows? Still, at least there's St Andrews, where John Daly is wearing lavendar paisley trousers and playing well (so far), and Rory McIlroy is compensating for poor play at the Masters and the US Open with a nice little 63 at age 21.

Monday seemed to have promise of a good week. Bride of Stupid was actually posting under the column, and as usual the Social Worker Types were out in full force emoting all over her without saying anything one could remember for five seconds. It brings to mind Kitty Aldridge's first scene as Sarah Harding in *To Play the King* when she spouts the typical Tory line of the period about Whether We Would Pay for various services currently provided by the government - doctors, of course; teachers, probably; social workers?

As usual, I was mildly surprised by one of the rather neglected questions. Although I am not fond of Mr Savage's favourite advice, I would likely have given Bride of Stupid a DTMA, the M standing for Moron. Another probable DTMA would have gone to the Housewarmer, who had been a co-worker with the boyfriend until getting fired, and now Boyfriend wants to invite Boss to the housewarming. The Prudecutor advised the usual sort of Incredibly Obviously Insincere Social Lie that makes any reasonable person require the immediate assistance of a Barf Bag. With very little required in preliminary cross-examination, I feel confident of being able to apply another M to this boyfriend. It is just possible that the workplace is the sort where social finessing not only runs to this extent but is also a de facto requirement for success, it being technically impossible to prove. Think of a worse version of Norman's workplace in *Cheers,* when his rival for promotion was having an affair with the boss' wife; Norman opted not to tell and was phoned at Cheers to be told he would not be promoted because Vera had not made a sufficiently good impression at some company function; later, phoning Vera to give her the bad news, Norman had an unusual attack of Good Spousemanship and told her they'd said he wasn't the right man for the job, earning rare accolades from Diane. (That always reminds me of Mr Wendt's later appearance on an early celebrity version of The Weakest Link. He was voted off after the fourth round, and the eventual winner told Ms Robinson that she thought he could have gotten more questions right. Ms Robinson then asked if she knew how many questions George had missed for the entire show thus far, and supplied the fact that the answer was None. Ms Robinson then saw him off with an unprecedented compliment, "You are the Strongest Link. Goodbye, Sir.") It is also just possible that the asker knew the firing to be well-deserved at the time and has never been bitter about it. If either of these unlikely lines of questioning happens to strike gold, the asker might attempt coffee or lunch with Boss, with or without Boyfriend, to see if the path can be smoothed sufficiently first. Otherwise, I have two possible courses of action. One would be DTMA. The other would be to take a page from *Rumpole and the Old, Old Story* when Claude Erskine Brown accompanies Soapy Sam Ballard to a Lawyers as Christians meeting featuring an address by the Bishop of Sydcup, gets Ballard tanked up on half a dozen sherries and then drives off, leaving Ballard obliged to spend the night in Chambers, where Rumpole, who had nearly been caught living in Chambers before Phyllida Erskine Brown took him in as a guest, is conveniently able to find him the next morning. Asker can invite Boss to the party, get Boss sloshed, and stage a Compromising Situation which will lead to Boyfriend's rapid rise through the corporate ranks.

Well, the preamble might be longer than the Thursday Address. What piffle. The only good note is that LW3 provided me with this week's theme, which will be supplied at the end.

L1: Is this a joke? Please tell me this is a joke. People like LW1 are almost enough to make me think that, were the country somehow to be ruled by Schlessinger Law, it might not be the greatest conceivable disaster. Now, perhaps, just perhaps, LW1 intends to raise her daughter to be Apparently Popular but Really Just Busy in high school, to refer to a fairly early episode of The Facts of Life, a kinder alternative to how Johnny Weir would term it. She is, after all, trying to raise her daughter to be proud of her body. But, given the ease with which her grand ideals are punctured, I suspect a Push Poller could make mincemeat of her and get her to declare herself an Extremely Moral Person, or at least someone with High Moral Standards.

If LW1 really intended things to turn out this way, then more power to her. As it happens, we have a four-year-old girl, however adorable, who has been raised for three years with Mummy and Live-In-Not-Daddy having sex once or twice a day and Lindy regularly watching porn, presumably at home.

I so sincerely regret premiering the line, "Holy Jon Benet Ramsay, Batman!" in a non-serious vein as a comment to the Submariner a couple of weeks ago. The only thing missing from this letter are the pageants, and we can only surmise that Adorable isn't a Pageant Girl because Mummy and Lindy spend too much time having sex to have enough time to take her to those ghastly events. One plus for the bunnies.

There is only one thing wrong with painting a picture of Adorable eight (or possibly six) years from now as a guest on Tyra horrifying the audience of single mums with her casual description of how it's not big deal for her to perform in the French style for the benefit of her male acquaintances, and that is that Tyra presumably will not be filming in six or eight years.

Now, perhaps in such a situation, LW1 will be the mum who won't react with tears and horror and distressed claims that she didn't raise her little girl to be that way, but will rather remind Adorable of the Serious Talk they had about the Dangers of Promiscuity and convince her to scale back considerably. If so, more power to her. People have give children consistent upbringings under far more harmful banners than Sexual Freedom. But then we come to the point of L1. Lindy, who seems perfectly well satisfied with her Model Body, admits, potentially under duress, that she's Not Really His Type, and her immediate instinct is to get work done to please him, flying in the face of her Principled Ideals of Child-Raising. Bleah, bleah, and again BLEAH. If this woman can hold on to a principle long enough to act on it, then I'm Ms Mermaid's twin sister.

I refuse to tell LW1 what she should do because she is not sufficiently adult to take any advice I could offer her.

Moral: "I wanted you to sleep with her; Hate yourself instead of me. I wanted you untrue; hating yourself, like me. After all, what am I missing I haven't missed before? Sucking down those precious lies I should have swallowed way before."

L2: This is another Technicality Letter, and I cannot abide Technicality Letters. I know many people over age 70 or even 80 who frequently give glowing accounts of their travels and stays in various hostels designed for their particular accommodation. I can't even count this as a real question. There are probably deeper in-law issues in play here, but there's not enough to generate sufficient interest to go digging.

Moral: "I climb you as I grow older; by fifty I'll ride on your shoulder."

L3: Now I am grateful to LW3 for supplying me with the theme for this week, but really one wonders how people manage to rise to such giddy heights in their professions if they are so completely incapable of coping with Idiotic Interns. The only grace I can permit here is that there is potentially the worry over being perceived as overly sensitive because LW3's particular trait isn't especially widespread. It's hard to imagine an insulted person not speaking out if (s)he were insulted over being right-handed, or female, or over 40, or perhaps even left-handed out of fear of being thought too touchy. But it may be that LW3 fears that any serious conversation she has with the Idiot Intern will just get the same reaction. Still, it will be difficult and likely might not do LW3 much good if she goes to higher channels without having had a talk with II first.

I shall indulge the Gender Games followers a little here and at least toss out in cross a question about whether LW3 would feel any differently about the case if it were a male intern. It seems possible. There are so many people who ought to know better who would have no problem stomping on idiocy spewing from a male but who think that Hurting a Young Woman's Feelings is second worst only after Drowning Kittens in the Calendar of Unforgivable Sins.

For those who would advise LW3 to retaliate by sabotaging II's career, she'll feel guilty about it later if she does. Remember Rumpole tricking the then white-wigged Phyllida Trant (who did not know that he'd been briefed for the Defence of the bawdy-house keeper she was to prosecute) into boring Archie McPhee to death by citing as much law as she could think of and thereby infuriating him into dismissing the charges With Costs. Even before he began to call her Portia Rumpole came to regret having played such a trick on her.

As irritating as these junior Know-It-Alls are, isn't it more or less one of the purposes of being an intern? We're bordering on technicalities again, but it rather seems that LW3 or perhaps a superiour ought already to have addressed this as an issue that will likely have a bearing on II's future professional life.

It might be entertaining in an ideal world if LW3 could get voicemail that could identify a caller, so that, whenever II called LW3, she would hear some such line as, "Her cats smell better than you do," but I suppose that's just imagining.

Moral: "Jesus said in Heaven, there's not that much to do..... When the ground starts shaking, watch the gifts inside your home; I have a feeling many aren't for you."

L4: The gesture sounds lovely, and at least it touched the adult involved. The stepsisters, not so much. There might be a bit of use in cross-examining along the line of exactly what the plan was behind LW4 being asked to handle the ordering. (There is an interesting sideline of Us vs Them regarding the Sides of the Family to save for later.) Was it completely left to her own discretion? Was there any reasonable expectation of what the budget might be for such an order had she actually bought the flowers? Was it assumed that the Real Siblings would split the bill? Is LW4 the member of the family who typically copes with such things as cards "from the siblings"? Was this perhaps the first time that anything of this sort has come up?

I feel as if I could comfortably defend either LW4 or at least her brother, perhaps even her sister. LW4 on her own account comes off as a sufficiently sympathetic type. But it would not be too difficult to paint a portrait of a Greedy Little Attention Grabber who knew how much better she would come off than all her siblings. Had LW4 bought the flowers and all the siblings split the cost, they would presumably have been thanked by their stepmother and the siblings might have acknowledged that Florence, as befitting her past as a florist, had chosen the arrangement. Florence would therefore have received perhaps a slight extra helping of credit that would otherwise have been distributed more or less evenly between the siblings. As it is, Florence has done it all, and her brother at least who might have been hoping at least to have contributed through paying an equal share of the sibling contribution, has been, however unintentionally, cut out of making any contribution.

Florence reminds me a little of Heather Badcock in *The Mirror Crack'd*. She was kind to Miss Marple after a fall, pressing on her a cup of tea full of sugar against Miss M's protest, and struck Miss M as a clear example of the type of woman who is full of kindness but who only considers her own point of view in any situation, being incapable of seeing how other people might be affected by her actions. One of Heather's favourite stories is about how, as a girl, she was warned by her doctor because of a slight illness not to go see the famous actress Marina Gregg, but she didn't feel too bad, so just put on a lot of makeup and went. That Marina happened to contract rubella from Heather, that Marina was pregnant, that Marina's baby was born severely impaired, and that Marina, when hearing the story years later from Heather, should happen to see a picture of the Madonna and Child, realize that the person who had ruined her life was now boasting about the act that had done so, poison her own daiquiri, jog Heather's elbow causing Heather's drink to be spilled and then press her own poisoned cocktail on Heather was just a little bit of a Whoopsie!

IF, and I agree that it's a big If, Florence had reason to expect that her siblings were counting on contributing their share to the cost of the floral arrangement, the gracious thing to do would have been to let them know that she'd had the thought to make the arrangement with her own flowers, and perhaps about what it would be likely to cost had she bought such an arrangement, just so that, if they were determined to do *something*, they would be able to match or at least imitate her gesture. As it was, even if the arrangement was presented as being from "all the siblings", once it came out that Florence had made the arrangement with her own hands, even had there not been any horrific behaviour on anyone's part, she would have received a great deal more of the credit than would have been hers for selecting an arrangement that had been jointly bought.

One reasonable interpretation of her gesture, despite its loveliness, is that, by not telling her brother and sister, she perhaps unwittingly deprived them of the opportunity to contribute something. Chances are that it might not have mattered to many people - it certainly appears not to have mattered much to her sister, but it might have mattered to some, and it might have been a kind thing to do to check in advance.

Moral: "I'm loving everybody, and hating everyone I see."

Theme: As LW3 is bipolar, for the theme of the day I took quotations from Kristen Hersh, either from solo works or from Throwing Muses.


  1. I'd viewed the social worker as a female, since so many are. However, if male, you are probably right about not wanting to hurt II's little girl-feelings. If both are female, though, she's probably more afraid that most others really see her as "just bi-polar", and she can't stand her ground for that reason.

  2. Thank heavens a voice of reason in the wilderness! I was beginning to think I was the only one who wasn't impressed with the Greedy Little Attention Grabber.

    I'm just about to have a mad rant (only question is where) about #4 ~ the sainted flower-arranger, whose motives I trust about as much as I trust his/her assertion that they "used to" work as a florist. "Used to" being the key words here. Maybe I'm a bit touchy on the subject but I can picture someone I know pulling a stunt like this and sitting back all innocent like, while everyone compliments her on the lovely arrangement she made for her brother. I doubt if she'd have taken the time to explain to each that it was in lieu of an arrangement from the whole family that they'd asked her to order. She would have simply said "Oh thank you." *smirk*

    And really ~ "in full bloom" does not in any way guarantee translation into "suitable for a funeral". Really. What if all that was in full bloom were yellow and orange and red Shasta daisies? My opinion is that the professionalism of this entire bouquet should be called into question.

    Another good call on #3, the social worker (probably because I made it too haha) that she's probably afraid to stand her ground for being seen as bipolar. I wondered, however, if that is a learned response to any social situation (to hold herself in check lest she be seen as "crazy") or are her meds flattening her out a bit?

    Is it too much tennis lately that accounts for your bum shoulder and elbow, hrumpole? Kisses to both! Thank heavens it doesn't seem to affect your ability to write..!

  3. I also took LW3 as female, but thought, while the fear of playing to bipolar stereotypes was certainly highly probable, it would at least be worth tossing around the possibilitiy that she could be the martyr type who almost thrives of having her feelings hurt but never retaliating. I think too that I might have been reading one of those threads the day before about how gender plays into it. I got it into my head to wonder how LW3 would have handled this from a male intern, and just couldn't convince myself she'd treat the offender in the same Handle with Kid Gloves fashion. And one knows so many females and males who would rather date Barnabas and Quentin Collins at the same time during a full moon than Hurt a Young Woman's Feelings.

    Ms Mermaid, what I like about L4 is that one can find evidence to support practically any view of the situation. I am glad the line advanced has genuine plausibility. Your points as an Expert Witness might be quite useful. In general, though, I tend to dislike funeral questions as being rather on the technical side of protocol; this was better than most.

    The elbow and shoulder are really just a sign of natural deterioration, the way my digestion decided to go off about a year ago. We humans just have no durability! But the elbow finally seems to have turned the corner and it appears that the shoulder was but a temporary pain. About 16 years ago I thought for a couple of months that I might be having carpal tunnel problems and then my wrists just got better, and the elbow seems to be behaving similarly. But many thanks for the kind thoughts.

  4. I carry them for you always, Dear. :)

    I think the more important consideration is not how the LW would have treated the intern had they been a man versus a woman ~ but how the intern would treat the LW if they were a man instead of a woman.

    For some reason, I just did not picture this young woman having the chutzpah to wave dismissively at a man who is at least a decade her senior without being a coquette as well, and there didn't seem to be any indication of that in the letter. No, this was done because the young woman felt comfortable doing it, felt she could get away with it, and my guess is she'd only feel that kind of contempt for another woman. So I pictured the LW as a woman.

    Also, the "martyr" point is something you picked up on ~ I articulated it as asking who in their right mind (no pun intended) allows this to go on long enough to form a pattern. Once would have been my personal limit, and any more than that is on the LW herself.

  5. I still think the other siblings should have provided their own arrangements, or send checks to appropriate charities. If they somehow managed not to know what is important to the step-brother or to the step-mother, all they had to do was ask.

    I wonder if the "former florist" would have thought of sending an arrangement lovingly handmade by herself with flowers from ehr own garden, had the sister not asked her to, or if she'd have cheaped out and just shown up at the funeral, like her siblings. Apparently all are adults, and no mention is made of the father, so it sounds like they are all probably at least approaching middle age. While they may feel a loss of the step-brother, surely Step-Mom feels it more.