Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/23 - Super Quickie

As promised.

L1:  Ummm... Topical letter is topical? Far be it from me to go insisting that a LW report abuse, but really this one seems to be dragging the bottom of the barrel for reasons to avoid doing so.

L3:  One thousand dollars for a sense of loss over an item that had been sitting unregarded for forty years? We need not even say anything about the markup. It really is a bit too ridiculous to justify giving this letter serious consideration. On a smaller scale in reverse, it reminds me a bit of Mansfield Park when William Price leaves Mansfield. Mrs Norris, who, having begun her career of conjugal felicity on very little less than a thousand a year, had found herself forced to "economize" in widowhood after having always had a close and grasping relationship with cash and other goods (her portion in the great expense of raising her sister Price's daughter having been confined to the writing of the letters while it was her sister Bertram who dispatched money and provided Fanny with bed and board and her appropriation of the green baize curtain after the abandoned theatricals spring to mind), congratulates herself on having given William "something considerable," which pleases Lady Bertram. It is open to interpretation how genuine Lady Bertram is being when she proclaims herself pleased by her sister's "considerable" gift, having herself given William only ten pounds (Sir Thomas said ten pounds would be sufficient). Mrs Norris, appropriately, reddens.

L4:  Oh, good grief, how on earth did any child ever survive without his hands being sanitized seventeen times an hour for hundreds of years? And what on earth is the Prudecutor doing invoking Oscar Wilde, of all people? Does she hold that Mr Wilde was indulging in something in his writing that strikes her as the equivalent of spitting on a slide? Does she think he was so in love with his own wit that he would automatically find even his most juvenile output to be the wittiest thing ever written? I am absolutely convinced that there is a definite insult intended, and I would protest at considerable length had I time.

L2:  Well, LW2, who died and made you Cleopatra? or Quinn Morgendorffer? Is it possible that all your husband's intellectual energy is so completely taken up in being such a good husband to you in so many ways that, when the hour of leisure arrives, he has nothing left for anything more intellectually challenging than forms of entertainment so well suited to simpletons? That a wife and mother should have enough intellectual wherewithal left over to be ready, able and willing to discuss geopolitics at the dinner table suggests an inequality in the proportion of effort the participants contribute to the marriage. At the very least, LW2 appears to accept all that H2 does as her/his due (as evidenced by feeling cheated out of stimulating intellectual conversation) without listing anything by way of reciprocation. And what on earth H2's childhood has to do with L2's problem?

Now for the Prudecutor. Why is the probability that LW2 can't do any better than H2 on the open market supposed to convince her that a relationship she finds intolerable ought not to be chucked? But, mainly, what on earth is up with the assumption that ALL EGGHEADS ARE TERRIBLE IN BED??? There was just a lovely thread on Savage Love with discussion of false dichotomies, including comments concerning the idea that one could be strong intellectually or emotionally but not both. This is too bad, as the Prudecutor was actually in much better form in her conclusions than usual. Sadly, such a bloomer wipes out a lot of credit.

As for the situation, I have been in a situation similar to that of LW2's in that most of the things I'd particularly enjoy discussing in great detail might be of interest to perhaps seven people out of every severy billion. Had I ever had LW2's requirement of someone who would share all my dearest interests, I'd never have Retired From Romance as I'd never have started. But LW2 manifests a distinct incapacity to take interest in other pursuits, which signals to me a distinct intellectual failing on her part. In fact, I shall build on this and diagnose that this is why she married someone in the first place who did not provide her with her usual strongest turn-on. I surmise that LW2 wasn't up to her intellectual companions. Because she could not keep up with them, she married someone who could never make her feel inferiour. And now here are all her chickens, back home and roosting away.

Moral:  "You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

11/17 -Still Ill, Thus Brief

This week one may witness an attempt to dispose of the letters as quickly as possible.

L2:  LW2, what on earth makes you think you're such a special snowflake? Count yourself lucky, dear LW2. For many people, if not most, the holidays provide miserable experiences in the form of visits with relations who don't quite meet a generally recognized reasonable standard for being dumped. Of course, this would not prevent those of true steely resolve from avoiding them, but people will be sheep and then bleat about it afterwards. As for what to do at the time in question, it seems the ideal time to read a lengthy work of history.

L3:  LW3, why add the most telling piece of evidence to the catalogue of sins as if it were an afterthought? LW3 strikes me as the sort of person who would be right at home in The Lion in Winter. The lead complaint is rather a weak one, followed by a stronger objection to car waxing. I shall recuse myself for the portion of the question concerning car waxing, which borders too closely on the technical. And finally, as an aside, comes the real bomb, that H3 thinks F3 would date him if he were single. What sort of revelation is that? I'd advise an instant divorce, except that I don't like either LW3 or H3 enough to think that either party deserves to be allowed to part.

L4:  Wouldn't it be delightful to use LW4 and LW1 in a remake of No Exit? I'd advise LW4 to regard problems in light of their difficulty rather than their magnitude. I'd also advise LW4 to watch Metropolitan, with particular regard to how Tom is finally persuaded to set aside his "principled stand" that he shouldn't go to any more deb parties because of The Less Fortunate by Nick's argument that, to many people, Tom himself is TLF. But back to the point of difficulty-versus-magnitude, many smallish problems with limited impact are rather more difficult to solve than various more serious and permanent problems, such as, say, leglessness. Recall Hercule Poirot in The Clocks finding three pieces of orange peel in his umbrella stand, or Miss Marple's occasional references to Miss Wetherby's gill of peeled shrimps.

L1:  LW1 comes across as if (s)he expects life to be like Gossip Girl, with herself as some sort of Queen Bee whose glory and magnificence fills others with awe and deference, or perhaps Heathers with herself as the interchangeable chief Heather, or maybe some cross between the two. (Only one gender-indefinite is used as the letter seems to meet a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard even if it falls short of beyond reasonable doubt.) I am at least provisionally willing to accept her assertion about her hard work. But there is a definite air here of Eau de Zero-Sum. I also get a sense of the skit from when Chris Evert hosted Saturday Night Live, in which Nora Dunn portrayed Martina Navratilova, following Chris from one new post-tennis career to the next, always with the claim, "I missed the competition!" (Stefanie Graf - and those who like such things should search out her picture in character as Smurfette for this Hallowe'en - might reasonably have taken issue, but so it was.)

But now I get to tangle with the Prudecutor, always the best part of any week. Why on earth not convey to others that LW1 works so hard to maintain her good looks? Many women make quite a system out of doing exactly that. It can be cloying when overdone, but for some it's workable. And the Prudecutor's assertion that her looks should look effortless? Entirely wrong. If people, particularly women, are going to spend all that time on their looks instead of on less patriarchy-pleasing accomplishments, it is doing the world a service to make that readily apparent. For instance, to use a generally male example, there are people who actually find those with a body-builder-like appearance unattractive, as such a person clearly exceeds the maximum gym time such a chooser would find acceptable. But at least built-body types are usually only too pleased and proud to appear just as they are, which saves everybody time and effort. Imagine the repetitive disappointment of going on a dozen first dates with people who seem quite as one would like only to find out time after time that each averages six hours a day in the gym.

As for what LW1 should do (besides go cry to LW4?) - accept human nature? make as much quic money as possible and invest it soundly before it's too late? start her own company? (I am not really trying all that hard to care.)

Moral:  "I talk people and you answer back in provinces." "They get mixed up."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

11/10 - Almost the Highest Marks

Astute readers will not need a hint to guess which LW almost gets a seal of high approval this week.

L1:  First things first. How could LW1 possibly have been curious enough to investigate the emails from the unknown source (and which of us truly knows ALL his or her siblings' email accounts? That is a weird assumption in and of itself.) and find what would appear to be evidence of a half-sister but not curious enough to follow up on the discovery with the other parties involved? Does she truly believe with all her heart that D1 will just yield at the first question and  tell her the complete truth? As Brett Somers would say, Good Gravy Marie!

While it might not be irrational to assume that a period of some marital lack of harmony might have had something to do with the conception of an extramarital child, what other evidence is there to support LW1's apparent leap to the conclusion that her assumption of a happy marriage must be voided in entirety? As for M1, how far can LW1's judgment be trusted? It certainly appears as if she has a skewed idea or two there. It might be possible that the whole situation is arranged for M1's benefit, or that M1 has come to terms with what is in some way or other. As far as LW1's faith in marriage and relationships, it's just as well that this is all exploded before the wedding rather than after, as that sort of faith would be. It seems that there are certain tests that must be run, and somebody will have to make them happen, but it would have been most useful had LW1 followed through with the Other Family.

A couple of quickies for the Prudecutor. "surely you long ago realized that is a perilous position and you don’t want to be that kind of wife." Really? Where on earth does the Prudecutor get that idea? It certainly appears that LW1 had every intention of replicating the marriage that she thought was so happy, with the possible exception of financial dependence, but that might well be more along the line of wistfully wishing for the June Cleaver life as something outside of C1's financial grasp. And the Prudecutor takes a long time to mention the fiance, saving him for the last sentence and making a cryptic remark which one might interpret as doubt about his utility in the affair. I'd have grilled LW1 rather more about how F1 has taken the revelation and supported her thus far. There might be some sort of indication there, though I suspect LW1 has kept it all swept under the rug.

L3:   LW3 needs to watch Shirley Valentine. That was, after all, what set everything in motion. Shirley's neighbour Gillian, about to travel to Brussels, asked Shirley to feed her bloodhound the one time Gillian's mother couldn't. Stopping off before bringing her shopping home, Shirley sympathized with poor Claymore when he didn't touch his muesli. And there was her husband's steak in her shopping bag. Claymore got a treat, Shirley broke the Eleventh Commandment by not giving her fella steak on a Thursday, Joe refused to eat chips and egg, and Shirley got up the nerve to decide to accompany Jane to Greece.

How LW3 and R3 get along, how LW3 wants to get along, what LW3's attitude is both on the surface and a bit deeper about the dog; these all affect what LW3 might offer in the line of accommodation. How much or how little LW3 is willing to do is what it is. It may seem slightly unreasonable to move in to a place with a dog owner and expect never to lift a finger, but R3 can't really expect anything beyond common courtesy. What R3 expects and whatr LW3 reads into the situation may be interesting to reconcile.

L4:  What is it with all these waiting-until-marriage virgins lately? There's been a much better debate flowing lately in Savage Love. And why must all these virtuous waiters be so disingenuous? But the solution is simple. Get F4 way too drunk to perform until C4 is safely installed post-honeymoon in their new home. Besides, who on earth wants the First Marital Time to be in some hotel? If C4 really are both virgins, would it not have far more meaning for them to have their first time in their own bed in their own bedroom in their own home?

L2:  Now LW2 has chosen for her charges the interesting aliases of Elizabeth and Emma. Astute readers do not require a prize for guessing which Author of High Repute LW2 has been reading of late. However, I must dock LW2 slightly for a discrepancy in her choice of characters.

Elizabeth Bennet is a fine choice. We see many examples of how her parents elect to conduct their marital felicity. They are the closest of all Austenian couples to the example set by MC2. But Emma Woodhouse, whose mother (whose marital relations were vastly different from those with which we are presented in L2) we never see, and who is above all devoted to her father? That would be the difficulty of selecting Jane and Elizabeth for the daughters' aliases, as Elizabeth Bennet is also sincerely attached to her father. Perhaps Kitty and Lydia might have been better choices.

As for what LW2 ought to do, I suspect that the clever solution would be to drop a subtle hint in the ear of the D2s about how LW2 herself had told someone in authority all about her own troubles at home at their age and it solved all her problems. The D2s won't know if it's someone who will be required to have a word in the shell-like of an experienced Social Worker.

Moral:  "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

11/3 - From the Sickbed

Very short address during flu time, then back to bed:

L1:  It's interesting that LW1 selects the Prudecutor, and also that (s)he goes from fantasy into thinking of an Affair. Perhaps there is something to the idea that a lifetime of One Partner Only if tossed deserves something more than a One Time Pickup. As for what to do, it may seem like the greatest idea in the world to open up the marriage, especially if LW1 is male.  But it would be prudent to beware.  Many is the man who has convinced his insufficiently thrilling wife, even against her inclination, that they should See Other People, only to find out, when they are both actually on the market, that she's become the Belle of the Ball while he can't even Buy a Vowel, so to speak.

L2:  LW2, used to stringency, can't cope without it - vaguely reminiscent of how Fanny Price has to fly the flag of Moral Uncompromise alone once Edmund Bertram wanders off into the laxity brought about by his increasing attachment to Mary Crawford. But one thing to consider is that, given LW2's sense of panic surrounding each individual email, if (s)he has not been singled out for criticism from the new employer, it's likely that (s)he might have to work far harder to lose the post than (s)he now realizes. At least LW2 ought to be able to address the situation and a cure at leisure.

L3:  Evidently LW3 needs to be in a situation where it is not required to give 5,347 reasons for everything one does. The Prudecutor's suggestion of a soup kitchen will do as well as any other. And Nancy's mother may well come in useful later. Should it turn out that LW3 and Nancy turn out to be closeted lesbians, they ought to be able to blackmail RM3 into giving them the wedding of their dreams should they ever decide to come out. One or two pieces of evidence suitable for blackmail are always useful to have in the back pocket.

L4:  If LW4 really thinks any worthwhile 14-year-old is blissfully unaware of her and H4's little habits, then maybe (s)he has been smoking a little bit more often than (s)he realizes. In fact, I'd be more concerned for the state of his wits if S4 were to be verified to be completely unaware of what's been going on. And there is for LW4 one bit of consolation if (s)he genuinely, as the Prudecutor guesses, wants the kid not to grow up to be like Daddy. There has been no noticeable unexplained diminishment in H4's stash. And I suppose it quite likely that the child of a Stoner would go through at least an extended period of being extremely Straight Edge.