It really does seem as if the letters are not improving in quality. But then maybe I'm just not very well. It isn't always easy to tell the difference.
Thinking of Monday and the little controversy over whether there are any gender-based differences in what is told to those who have a problem with a partner's weight, I can give wiggle for a little difference. It is not entirely inappropriate for men who express a difficulty with a female partner's weight to be shamed for acting in an objectifying way as men have been doing to women for centuries. A woman doing the reverse is at least subverting predominant gender roles, and a little of that seems, if not necessary or even a distinct good, at least more of a potential plus. The trick is not to extend it into giving automatically greater credence to a woman's complaint and thereby playing into the myth of male weakness - that men who report lost attraction to their women were always shallow pigs who were only attracted to the women for their looks, but that women losing attraction to their men is indicative of serious problems in both the relationship and the men because we all know, as Queen Victoria once said in another context, that women don't do such things.
For this week's letters, I find that far too many people have appropriated My Best Friend's Wedding, so that I must leave L1 to find my main selection.
L1: Apparently the Prudecutor intends to mock LW1's interpretation of her religion, rather than the religion itself. In this the Prudecutor actually was on a halfway decent line until she stumbled badly at the end. There was no need to make a snide swipe at the supposed breach of tradition involved in a groom having a female attendant. Had this been my long reply, I might well have cross-examined the Prudecutor about her own homophobia, as she has never had a word to say about brides having male attendants, presumably because the Prudecutor always thinks such attendants are gay and therefore no threat to the marrying couple. (I knew I could get a good one out of this.)
What noone seems to have quite appreciated yet was that this was supposedly a Goodbye Boink. Does LW1 have unresolved issues about G1? Probably. Would it be fun to cross-examine her about her hostility towards B1 and the significance of two months? Definitely. Do I believe G1 was a virgin at the time of the hookup? That's for me to know and for enquiring minds to find out, but can anyone tickle-torture me into talking? But Goodbye Boinks, when properly conducted and uponfollowed through, have their own code. Thisn one has not really been handled all that well, but then again, there was supposedly at least one virgin involved.
What I'd love to see happen would be for LW1 not to relinquish the role she had previously accepted. Now one might think that I'd want to see this because she might then opt to Speak Now at An Opportune Moment during the ceremony. One might very well think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.
L2: This is another technical question. LW2 wants to find out from S2 exactly how he found out how to text her. It might be enjoyable to cross-examine her on why she doesn't want to get him into trouble or fired, but I like the idea of her luring him to his doom. The key for this would be to think of Veronica enticing Kurt and Ram to what turned out to be their deaths, made to appear as if it were a gay suicide pact, in Heathers.
L3: Well, the boards are just drowning in ridiculously treacly testimony from people who weren't planned, or whose brothers weren't planned, or whose sisters weren't planned, and everything turned out all wonderful and sparkly and there were rainbows and unicorns and oh definitely the Congress should wipe Planned Parenthood off the face of the planet because the testifier is such a special little snowflake. Laissez-moi barf. I actually almost like LW3, who falters only by making the completely extraneous comment that the Ps3 are "amazing people". That is a proven point-loser, right up there with the vile parental habit of calling one's children "beautiful" when that word ought rightly to be applied to perhaps 5% of the population at most. I give LW3 back a few points for the novelty of the family being together a few months ago. But I would tell all the Unplanned Wonders of the World that we don't get to hear any of the testimony from the Aborted Fetuses, now, do we? It does not make one any less special a snowflake to acknowledge that, unless one is a completely pathetic planner, planning is A Good Idea (although anyone who so chooses is welcome to select the option not to plan as a deliberate choice so long as s/he doesn't gripe about the consequences).
And now L4: Once again we have the eventuality of the Unequal Inheirtance. It seems quite right and proper that LW4 and H4 be recognized for their contribution to DM4's final times on the face of the planet. Of course, anything to do with death and wills is going to bring up a comparison to dear Dame Agatha. In this case, we have an excellent example in the form of the novel Crooked House, which LW4 can even perhaps use if the need arises.
Crooked House gives us another of those charming family murders. The family in this case belongs to the just-deceased millionaire Aristides Leonides. The narrator, Charles Hayward, returns to England to renew his romance with Sophia, Leonides' granddaughter. Charles learns from Sophia that the old man has been murdered, but that she can marry him if the right person killed him. Sophia lives in a large house with her parents, her brother and sister, her old Nanny, her siblings' tutor, her father's brother and his wife, her grandfather's first wife's sister and a stepgrandmother of about her own age.
Along the way there is much speculation about Aristides' will. After his marriage to Brenda, he made a point of signing his new will during a family conclave. He provided for Brenda and his sister-in-law Edith, then divided the bulk of his estate leaving a third to Roger, a third to Philip, and a ninth each to Sophia, Eustace and Josephine. This was widely held to be a fair disposal of his property. Unfortunately, now that Aristedes is dead, his will has never turned up. Supposedly he posted it right away to his reputable lawyer. But who would have purloined it along the way when everyone who could have done so was a beneficiary? Would Brenda get a life interest in the lot if the will never materialized, and if she did, would that be more to her benefit than her outright inheritance?
Of course the truth will out, and it turns out that Aristedes indulged in the fakery-pokery himself. He did sign a will and he did have it witnessed in the presence of his family, but the will he signed he sent to an old friend in Smyrna and it left everything to Sophia. Aristedes was a lifelong believer in the virtue of a large family having one head. Roger had no business sense, and Philip was inclined to withdraw from life. Eustace was too inclined to be influenced by those with whom he came into contact. Only in Sophia could he see a worthy successor, and the rest was to prevent harmful speculation or resentment.
When the truth is revealed, Philip is bitter but consoled that Roger was cut out as well. Roger is relieved to be disinherited, as he plans a Spartan existence with Clemency in the Caribbean. Sophia is a bit hurt to be set apart, and admits to Charles that her grandfather had told her about the real will two weeks before he'd died, which she realizes moves her way up the suspect list, now that her motive is as good as that of Brenda and Laurence.
There is an example of the possible folly or even danger of making one's testimentary dispositions known in a Miss Marple story "Greenshaw's Folly." One might save on household expenses by leaving one's property to the housekeeper in lieu of a salary, but it might well get one murdered before too long.
My moral for this week will revert to L1 and be from personal experience. Speaking as someone who followed the wedding by less than eleven months, I can testify in the matter of L1 that it is not enough simply to Do the Right Thing without having any clue as to the purpose or import of doing so.