Thursday, July 28, 2011

7/28 - Miss Austen Misappropriated

With Homocentric August looming so near, today will be short.

Quick Thoughts:

L1:  Umm, curiosity killed the cat?  LW1 is hard to fathom.  In one question (s)he asks whether to "out" BF1 to all their friends, and then in another how to "unlearn" the disturbing fact (s)he discovered.  That's nicely all over the map, isn't it?  And there isn't anything resembling a sort of explanation why LW1 never made any sort of mention of this unsettling discovery.  If I liked LW1, I'd suggest torturing BF1 with the occasional mention of something in that line, just to see how he reacted.  Theoretically, at least, it's possible that he might just have been planning The Big Revelation for a bit further on in time - perhaps at the six month mark.  This might speed it up.  But, as I don't, I won't.

L3:  Oh, Prudecutor - why the bleep not?  Only, LW3, here's a much more fun idea.  Instead of grocery cards, send some gift cards for Barnes & Noble.

L4:  Apparently the Prudecutor has yet to hear of Slu*walk.  LW4, a little cross-examination:  Are you planning to raise your daughter to be a feminist?  Will she be among that wave of feminists who organized and brought about the seemingly interminable series of Slu*walks all over the world?  Reclamation, LW4, is the order of the day.  By all means name the daughter Lolita, and let her stomp all over anyone who dares to belittle her on that count.  Also, who and where are all these well-read adults the Prudecutor mentions?  They must be all the ones with good handwriting.  Bad psychology, Prudecutor.  Well-read adults are not the FNC-watching types who bully children or direct their children to bully others.  And her classmates?  Only the Asian ones raised by Tiger Mothers will be reading at that level, and they'll be getting bullied, not being the bullies - assuming, of course, that Zero Tolerance isn't at such a zenith that all interpersonal communications between students have to go through a school administrator.

Now for L2:

Four years and numerous discussions?  Well, it certainly sounds as if LW2 really had a whole avalanche of momentum heading into that hesitant proposal, doesn't it?  Getting her parents' blessing first?  How charmingly patriarchal, besides which, after four years, it rather seems as if the horse is crossing from California to Nevada while the cart is crossing from Tennessee to North Carolina.  Searching her phone for her parents' phone number?  Having no cellular telephone, I ought to recuse myself.  Evidently C2 does not have that thoroughly shared a life, or just aren't particularly good at planning for possible eventualities.  Befuddled attempts at upcovering?  Well, there's half the problem right there.  Relentless, vicious accusations of spying?  And this is someone LW2 wants to marry - well, clearly, not at that eagerly.  Profuse apologies?  Why do I suspect that that's been the pattern of the relationship all along?  Unmollified outrage?  As much as I want to admire a woman who is above the influence of Bright Shiny Jewelry (which, the gentle reader may well note, has the power to move even the might Ms Messy), LW2 might well know by now if he were such a good match for someone of such overreacting tendencies.  Reluctantly accepted?  What sort of woman marries someone she can't trust, or:  what sort of person wants to marry such a woman?  LW2's mistake?  How about wasting four years and still coming to the wrong decision about this woman?

Now for the Prudecutor:  Why on earth not call the movers?  Let STBXF2 see that LW2 is someone to be taken seriously who can't be bullied for the duration of the marriage.  LW2 needs to grow a spine, even more so if this pair actually does marry, and "starting discussions about how he feels that the punishment does not fit the crime and how worried he is about their untimely unhappiness" goes beyond the worst Alan Alda Strawman ever set up with which to mock the Sensitive Male of Today.

Even giving the Prudecutor a point for not liking the idiotic patriarchal convention of obtaining the parents' blessing (and I would dearly love to know if LW2 obtained a similar blessing before the couple began living together), I must put her permanently into the doghouse for her misuse of Miss Austen - and no, she cannot try to palm the misuse off on STBXF2.  I might let Ms Mermaid get away with such a thing, but not the Prudecutor.

I cannot imagine a good outcome for this.  Either STBXF2 is involved in something extremely shady, or she has just shown that she is Poor Marriage Material.  Of course, LW2 is entitled to marry poor material.  But even if so, move out first and let the Reluctant Fiancee have to make things up.


Catherine Morland:  Proposal first; her parents agree to the engagement only asking that General Tilney consent to it, even if he does not approve.

Elinor Dashwood:  Proposal first, although Mrs Dashwood has clearly indicated that she would welcome Edward as a son-in-law.

Marianne Dashwood:  Weirdly enough, the tempestuous convention-defier Marianne has the most traditionally arranged proposal from Willoughby, although his intention to propose is stalled before he can execute it.  Colonel Brandon's proposal much later is connived at by Marianne's entire circle of friends and family, her mother chief among the connivers.

Jane Bennet:  Proposal first; then Bingley speaks to Mr Bennet.

Elizabeth Bennet:  Darcy's first proposal occurs without anyone's consent, least of all his own.  His second is more like Bingley's to Jane, although at least he had obtained the disapproval of his aunt.

Lydia Bennet:  Elopes intending marriage but allows the wedding to drift until Wickham is found out and his arm twisted into the connection.

Fanny Price:  We are not told, but cannot imagine that the opinion of the Prices would count.

Maria Bertram:  Mr Rushworth's proposal occurs during Sir Thomas' absence from home and awaits his official approval on his return from Antigua.

Emma Woodhouse:  Proposal first, and then most of the end of the novel consists in the couple tricking poor Mr Woodhouse into liking the idea.

Harriet Smith:  Proposal first, then approval gained from her mysterious connections.

Jane Fairfax:  Engaged in secret.

Augusta Hawkins:  We are not told, but she had no parent or guardian beyond her sister and brother-in-law.

Anne Elliot:  First proposal first, met with coldness from Sir Walter and discouragement from Lady Russell.  Second proposal first as well, with at least acceptance by way of recdeption.

Mary Elliot:  We are not told, but there was no secret that her husband had wanted the year before to marry Anne.

Henrietta Musgrove:  Has "an understanding" with Charles Hayter that becomes a confirmed engagement when he obtains a suitable curacy and prospects of sufficient for the future.

Louisa Musgrove:  Proposal first, taking everyone by surprise.

Frederica Vernon:  A little similar to Marianne Dashwood in that Reginald de Courcy's proposal is largely a group project for his mother and sister.  She refuses the proposal from Sir James Martin that her mother has engineered, and her mother thinks it better not to force Frederica to accept but rather to make Sir James Frederica's voluntary choice by making her life a misery until she relents.

Lady Susan Vernon:  Being widowed, she needs no permission to accept Reginald, although he knows that his father expressly disapproves the match before he requests it.  She appears to have no difficulty in redirecting Sir James' proposal from Frederica to herself when it suits her.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

7/21 - A Contest for August, plus the Strindberg Solution

First, the contest. It has come to mind that there is little point to being the dominant societal group without a good many people not belonging to the group actually trying to pass as memebers. And, as asked elsewhere, what would come to mind if one were to envision Martina Navratilova at net ready to volley? One would hope to hit a good passing shot. Accordingly, let it be announced that Homocentric August will contain a Passing Shots competition.

The gentle reader is invited to make his or her best submission during the month of August. Give any of the inquiries during that month, be it on a Monday or a Thursday, one's best homocentric spin. Those who succeed in passing will be so honoured. And the provider of the best entry will receive the honourary distinction of being named a PFCE Professor of Poofery. Any gentle reader who would be rendered ineligible because it would not be passing is welcome to join the Judging Panel.

Further details pending.

On to this week's Quick Thoughts:

L1: So only people without difficult characters are entitled to have companion animals and be told the truth when such an animal is killed in an accident? Oh, dear.

As much as, given her advice, appropriate karma would be for the Prudecutor's husband to disappear one day without telling her anything and for everyone she knows to suspect her of murder in consequence, one cannot be overly fierce to anyone who grasps the vital concept of Never Plead Guilty. Hire one of those services whose proprietors perform ordinary chores for clients. If necessary, call on the business premeses in disguise and pay in cash. The agent can inform the old crank that his cat died accidentally, and be authorized to fund the purchase or adoption of another cat if the old grump would like such a thing. Very likely it's more than the old grump deserves, but the cat deserves proper respect. And the LW and husband should also make a large donation to an animal-related charity to atone for their wanton callousness.

L3: Shacking up? Oh, Prudecutor. Who died and made you Dr Schlessinger? Besides, as we all know from the film Barcelona, one only uses the term "shacking up" when one dislikes or disapproves of one of the parties involved. Therefore, according to the annoying Ted, Monserrat and her previous beau were shacking up, but, if she were to move in with Ted, they would just be living together.

Also, unless D3 and F3 have a suicide pact in place, this is highly likely to sort itself out without any need for histrionics from LW3. D3 will probably die before F3, at which point, when she meets a new beau, she will probably be quite content to relinquish D3 to FW3. Perhaps instead of asking the Prudecutor, LW3 should have consulted the new Open Champion, Darren Clarke.

L4: One must cross-examine LW4 as to whether the getting drunk during her training occurred on the company dime or not. The letter could read either way. If so, LW4 should have done something at the time, and it may or may not be too late. If all the shenanigans occur on the participants' own time and there is no compromised image or efficiency during office hours, then LW4 should just change departments.

The main letter, L2:

Well, let us get things straight. HBF2 invites himself over to LW2's and H2's home. What policy did they establish about uninvited guests? (I'll guess they never bothered.) How sure is LW2 that H2 hasn't given BF2 a standing invitation, or isn't inviting him over a good deal more often than she knows? 2-3 times a week. How often does LW2 see her best friend? What does H2 think about that, if anything? After all, we would not want to connive at a double standard. Eating in the basement - again, does H2 occasionally or often eat in the basement? and why does she not accompany them rather than stew in the kitchen? Why not eat in the dining room on a regular basis, which would make it seem less acceptable to take dinner to the basement? Invitations out - how are finances handled in the family? Is LW2 appreciative that at least H2 consults her? Do they have an equal say, and do both of them have reasonalbe funds set aside for independent frivolous expenditure (naturally less given impending parenthood)? Can H2 afford an occasional outing, and is LW2 willing to allow him to indulge with appropriate moderation, or is she clamping down on "unnecessary" expenditure with all her might? Has LW2 made it clear to her husband that taking F2's side against her but claiming that she has all the power to stop it is disrespectful and divisive? How happy were they really before F2 reemerged? Was H2 just letting LW2 call all the shots because he had little motivation to oppose her policies? In what way has the relationship changed from matrimonial to maternal? And is this a genuine change, or have the cracks just started showing?

For the Prudecutor: How does what H2 been doing match the style of life taken up by an overgrown frat boy? A real OFB would be capable of a good deal worse, surely? By putting a stop to things, is this supposed to be something done by C2 acting together, or is LW2 supposed to drag her husband kicking and screaming into maturity whether he likes it or not? Is it her home or their home? Is LW2 willing to restrict time with her best friend to the same amount of time she can convince H2 to restrict himself to spending with F2?

Personally, I am inclined to think that LW2 owes F2 a huge thank you. He has shown her that she and H2 are nowhere near as compatible as she thought they were. There is still time for her to abort and divorce, and start again with someone whose views fit better with hers. Or is she really going to insist that H2 has to change into the person she wants him to be? What is she prepared to do if he won't? It does sound potentially as if she's just having a bit of a temper tantrum because her undisputed reign over the free time of the man she'd isolated has been challenged. At the very least, it would be easy to present such spin to the Jury. In reality, it seems as if there are just a lot of basics on which the couple never managed to agree early on - and they may have found out just in time. But LW2 had better be careful to be willing to accept any restrictions she intends to impose.

My parallel goes back to Strindberg, who did pen a book of short stories called Getting Married. What was interesting about the collection at the time was that some of the stories presented marriage in an egalitarian light. It may well be that the story called "A Doll's House" is the one I mean in which Strindberg attempted to refute the Ibsen play of the same name. A wife befriended a feminist, and wanted to become emancipated. Her husband's early attempts to restrict contact with the disturbing element failed. What was he to do?

LW2 has a number of tactics to try besides straightforward discussion/counseling. She can play up any little difficulties she is having with her pregnancy in an attempt to bring out his Inner He-Man, but that might leave her with bigger problems once that particular djinn escapes the lamp. She might simply give the two men so much rope that H2 eventually tires of F2. She might make a point of matching everything H2 does herself with her own best friend. She might try making a point of joining them as often as possible until F2 decides that visiting is no fun. Or she might do as Strindberg's hero and befriend F2 herself. At first, H2 will be pleased, but then, as LW2 begins inviting F2 over much more often than her husband would like, and when H2 won't be there, and maybe gives him just the tiniest little hints that there's a little spark of attraction between them, then it's possible that H2's interest in spending time with his friend will dwindle as quickly as the wife in Strindberg's story began disassociating herself from her feminist friend once her husband began to be the friend's greatest partisan.

Moral (taken from A Meeting in Rome, which imagines the details of a meeting between Ibsen and Strindberg that never actually happened, although interest was expressed on both sides): "Imagine how I feel," spoken by Strindberg's actress wife Siri when he expresses his nervousness once on the doorstep.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

7/14 - Social TREND???!!!???

My Monday residue relates to the wife whose husband's father had reappeared in his life after a lengthy absence.  I hope the Prudecutor's statement to the effect that the LW didn't want to tell her husband ITYS was intended as advice rather than assessment.  Of course the LW wanted to tell her husband ITYS.  The letter was dripping with it.  She might have tried to break off or disallow the connection had she not figured out that it gave her a much better position of power to smile through the reunion and then niggle her husband over gifts and expenditures later.

For today's group of letters, I apologize for any loud noise anyone may have heard some time ago.  If this sort of thing, happening so quickly on the heels of the last time I made a similarly loud noise, had happened in September rather than July, I might be announcing my imminent departure.  But nothing is going to spoil Homocentric August.  Also for today, I have a contemporary parallel rather than a classic one, but I trust it will not disappoint.

Quick Thoughts:

L2:  Very interesting that Mr Prudecutor has so much influence over his wife.  In fact, I'd have felt justified in comparing the Prudecutor to Mrs Bachmann had I not preferred my first choice.  This is an interesting letter.  The sightseeing comes across as an additional detail provided by W2 to make her visits look more legitimate, while ultimately proving just a shade overdone and making it suspicious that W2 would return to the same area so consistently without a branchout.  In cross-examination, one mkight want to establish for certainty that W2 refuses to allow LW2 to accompany her to that part of Florida at any time, on a joint holiday as well as an individual visit.  Assuming that to be true, there are innocent enough reasons that she might be unwilling at some point to Show Him Her Florida, but if she can't understand that her hoarding is making her reasons look rather guilty, then there's more than potential infidelity in play.  It might be interesting for LW2 to begin taking a separate holiday of his own (timed NOT to coincide with W2's) to which she is not invited...  And, by the way, should LW2 be looking for a private detective to trail W2, I am convinced that Ferdinand Isaac Gerald Newton (or Ferdinand Ian Gilmour, either way known as Fig in the trade) would be delighted to accept a job in Florida, where he would presumably not acquire the cold in the head he so frequently gets from observing errant spouses in inclement weather.

L3:  How to cope with Righteous Anger?  Run for Congress.  Why not?  Quite a few political careers start out of such little things.

L4:  Now I COULD advise LW4 that, if she really MUST engage her sister on the issue, invoke Miss Ramsay and throw around liberal reference to the P-word.  That would cause fireworks and be quite entertaining to observers.  But I am primarily interested in the Prudecutor on this one.  That should not surprise the gentle reader.  Social trend?  Tweeting one can reasonably count as a social trend.  If it caught on, such a practice as seating all men on one side and all women on the other side of the table at a dinner party could become a social trend.  There are one or two other social trends to which one might draw the Prudecutor's attention.  Right about now, the cheeriest one might be the Failure Rate of Second Marriages.  At least that should keep me from an explosion.

On to L1:  A fascinating situation, and again I note that the Prudecutor has kindly provided the gentle reader with a response containing very nearly as much of interest as LW1 herself.  First for LW1.  It seems reasonable to think that a high schooler might be forgiven for expecting a high school attachment to trump major lifestyle change.  The breakup could certainly have been handled (more) elegantly, and the miscarriage certainly makes LW1 quite the sympathetic figure at that point in time.  I shall give her the benefit of the doubt by accepting that she lists the causes of her discontinued education chronologically rather than by order of importance, but even so, linking the pair as she does does not serve her cause well.  How many years later might be interesting to establish.  Why such pictures would be detrimental to X1's reputation might make for some interesting speculation.  Is he going Christian? coming out? getting married?  I'm also unsure why LW1 is so devastated to be contacted by X1's representatives instead of X1 himself.  Surely that's standard practice.  If nothing else, X1 and/or his people might well have thought that personal contact from X1 might cause hostility.  And I note that LW1 did not ask "his people" why or reply to them that she would only discuss the matter with X1 personally.  One might speculate (perhaps better if left to the final address to the Jury) that LW1 is making this into a convenient reason for what she wants to do anyway.  Describing this as vindication is interesting also.  In what way does she think selling the pictures to a tabloid might possibly make her look better?

Now for the Prudecutor.  Why is she so eager for LW1 to be thankful that the computer and by extension the pictures have been preserved?  She certainly seems quite pleased by the prospect of LW1 making a bit of money out of the transaction.  I give the Prudecutor a rare Well Done for going to the extent of consulting a genuine expert in the field.  Telling LW1 to hire an attorney conversant with privacy law is a bit of a push, more or less guaranteeing that the pictures are going to be sold to somebody.  After all, there will be the legal fees to consider.  Then the Prudecutor calls X1 a jerk - saying he dumped LW1 in a jerky manner seems a little more accdurate, but that's a minor quibble.  Then she calls him an emotional moron - all on the basis of what he said at some point during breaking up with LW1.  Of course - everybody who ever handled a breakup awkwardly during high school loses his Humanity Card in perpetuity and deserves as much humiliation as he might possibly receive.  The Prudecutor concludes with her own little dilemma.  She has to give lip service to the future consideration of how LW1 will feel about herself being better if she negotiates with X1 through representatives, but makes it clear that she would love to see LW1 carry off a triumphant and highly profitable revenge.

It's very interesting that LW1 never told X1 she was pregnant.  It's not entirely clear whether she knew or not at the time of the break.  It would seem logical that she might use the pregnancy to try to keep him from dumping her.  One presumes that she did know before she miscarried.  My personal speculation on what limited information we have is that she wanted to have the baby and then hit X1 up afterwards, when the situation would have packed a much greater wallop.  Another possibility is that she avoided telling him to remain free of pressure to abort.

I don't know about the gentle reader.  However, were I forced to choose between LW1 and X1, I should call LW1 worse.  The whole of the evidence against him is one sentence uttered during a time of considerable stress to the witness and perhaps to the utterer as well.  Not telling a partner about a pregnancy (entirely her right, had she intended to abort, though it seems clear enough that she wasn't strongly inclined in that direction) seems rather more sinister.

I am a little surprised that the Prudecutor didn't hit on the possibility to which she veered so near - that of LW1 telling X1's people that the computer was donated.  Those who want X1 and his people to stew in fear (always assuming that they want the pictures destroyed rather than to control the leak themselves) would like such a course.  They then would have to worry about the pictures turning up at any time.  Personally, I don't care what LW1 does with the pictures enough to make a voluntary recommendation.  If I were forced to do so, I'd probably advise her to barter the copyright for therapy.  And, whatever she does, she should avoid reading Dr Barreca, who will only encouraging her worse self.

Mym parallel is drawn from real life, and quite a good one.  Although not taken from the field of music, it concerns someone of superstar status and his breakup with the sweetheart of his youth.  They did have a happier ending when he had a change of heart and reportedly got her back after begging.  And, given what event began today, it seems even more apt than usual to be invoking Mr McIlroy.  His reason for the breakup was quite similar, although, one presumes, rather better expressed - the need to work more relentlessly on improving his golf.  It was fortunate all around that he was able to see that his chosen course would not work well, the pair were able to reconcile, and his results have suddenly taken such an explosively good turn.

By way of moral, I shall quote Mr Wilde:  "The only way to defeat temptation is to yield to it."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

7/7 - Prudecutorial Misconduct

Concerning the Monday LW with the friend having an affair with a married man, there was an obvious course of action available.  Top it.  Have an affair with the friend's brother.  Or sister.  Or mother.  Or all three at once.  That would show her and how.

Quick Thoughts for a week with much improved letters:

L2:  An intervention?  Oh, good grief.  I am fine with LW2 and H2 always being present when the G2s see C2, but what a way to overreact.  Not that I'd have a problem in theory with the prospect of no alcoholic ever getting behind the wheel of a car again if it could be implemented in a reasonable and proper manner, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

L3:  Smarmy?  I would like to get BF3 on the witness stand and cross-examine him about that very possibility, but it's a bit thin just to assert it and hope it flies.  I would not, for instance, care to try the tactic of not bringing it up in cross-examination and then mentioning it in my closing remarks to the jury.  One does get a sense that perhaps BF3 enjoysn keeping LW3 in a state of pain that he has caused, or that perhaps LW3 enjoys giving that impression.  LW3 has ample cause to leave if she feels so inclined - does she really want to or does she prefer being in the position of having people tell her to leave?  As for what she might do, murder is always an excellent way to get rid of these horrible feelings.  Murder him and frame her for it, and that's killing two birds with one stone.

L4:  Well, if it would be a new paradigm one would have to present to 3YO4, does not the fault lie in LW4's lack of foresight in the presentation of the old paradigm?  After all, marriage equality did not suddenly spring into being in New York without precedent.  Before 3YO4 was even NB4, there was Massachusetts.  And there have been other neighbouring states besides - assuming LW4 is a New Yorker (and probably one of that insular sort who thinks that baseball begins at Yankee Stadium and ends at Shea, or, far importantly, that tennis is played only on hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre and never anywhere else now that the grass courts at Forest Hills are no longer in use).  It's like the episode of Cheers when Carla joins a dating service and the men invent a hunk and send his response to her ad, only to be brought up short when she rejects a real man interested in her for not measuring up to the hunk.  The men wonder why they never saw it coming, only to be reminded by Diane that each year they never saw winter coming.  I would like to cross-excamine LW4 on the depth of support for marriage equality.  It would not surprise me if LW4 knew the right PC jargon to spout, but secretly would always vote against equality in order not to have to explain it to 3YO4.  One knows so many of that ilk.

And now:

L1:  Nice Prudecutorial way to shame/blame/disbelieve the victim.  Making a particular point of mentioning that she is going to assume he is speaking the truth [NB:  This would be a fascinating letter for August, as LW1 could actually be a woman, but I suppose the odds are sufficiently overwhelming that we can reasonably apply the M label.] was rather artistic for her.  And a nice way to tell him that she knows better whether or not he's over the experience than he does.  "Justice working swiftly for him"?  Puh-lease.  He was jailed and treated like a rapist for a day - not a long time, but simply because they realized that a charge couldn't possibly succeed does not mean that Justice Worked Swiftly.  Did they even apologize to LW1 or was he let go with the sort of attitude that he "got away with something" that time?  As for therapy, it presumably couldn't hurt, although the wrong therapist could really put his head into a very bad place, but one sees letters all the time to advice columnists from women who have been sexually assaulted, and those who urge therapy on them rather than merely suggesting it if they feel it will help are fried up one side and down the other with the full wrath of those accusing them of victim-blaming.  Why not here?

As far as the question of "when to reveal" goes, I have nothing in particular about LW1 using his own judgement, although I think there could be a case made for leading with it before the first date.  LW1 might tell prospective dates that, if they are wise, they will conduct a background check on him, and that such a background check will or might reveal the accusation.  Some women probably will jump ship at once, but it may work out better that way than have the weight hanging over him of When to Tell for however long things go on beforehand.

X1 reminds me of Lucy Steele.  Knowing her fiance Edward is in love with Elinor, and having abandoned Edward for his brother Robert (armed with Edward's inheritance transferred by their irate mother), Lucy sees Elinor's servant and makes a point of sending "Mrs Ferrars'" best wishes to the Dashwoods, just to cause Elinor what pain she will feel before she learns that Edward is free after all.  LW1 himself reminds me of Linnet Doyle.  Just as she finds Jacqueline de Bellefort following the newlyweds around on their wedding trip intolerable, which Poirot ascribes to her own sense of guilt, I am prepared to cross-examine LW1, however kindly, with the intent to unearth whatever it is about which he feels some morsel of guilt.  It need not be anything to do with the purported rape.  On some level, he may well think that X1 has a legitimate grievance against him.  If so, bring it out and deal with it, or the wheels will just be spinning.

Moral:  "No, it is not beside the point.  I am explaining to you just why the unexpected appearences of Mademoiselle de Bellefort have upset you so much.  It is because, though she may be unwomanly and undignified in what she is doing, you have the inner conviction that she has right on her side."