Let's see...here did we last leave off in the story of this game called Life? Ah, yes, the Peperiums were to be spending the summer months moving lock, stock and barrel to St. Louis. Yes, St. Louis. A place where the Peperiums only knew one person -him. Well,that's actually not completely true. Mrs. P has a friend from her Boston days who married exceptionally well and she resides there in the best of neighborhoods. But since Boston days, or more importantly since she and Mrs. P visited last at a wedding of a mutual friend, that friend has been involved in a very salacious divorce/art gallery scandal with the most embarrassing of details recorded in the local St. Louis papers. Mrs. P decided, for the good of the Peperium's future life, to let that sleeping around dog lie and admit, publicly, to only having Sir Basil's acquaintance.
So summer is over and the Peperiums are becoming accustomed to their new home and their new life with quaint local customs, like Labor Day Parades. Perhaps what is the hardest gate for Mrs. P's mind to clear is she now resides down the street from Sir Basil. How this came to be is a story in itself and if she can clean it up enough, maybe she'll tell you. But honestly, you have to ask yourself how it can be that two intelligent and occasionally respectable people like Mr. and Mrs. P would consent to reside within a quarter of a mile of Sir Basil? Especially when one considers the statistics the National Transportation Board is almost to happy to hand out each Spring - most fatal auto accidents occur within a quarter of a mile of home. This is a most treacherous place for the Peperiums to reside. Why only the insane would do something like this. Or the truly desperate.
So it's an either /or propostion. Either the Peperiums were/are insane or truly desperate. You be the judge. To aide you in making your decision, here is a conversation that took place here at PP on October 29, 2004. Yes, the Peperiums go that far back with Sir Basil. In fact, they go back even farther and if Mrs. P can clean that story up maybe she will tell it to you too. This conversation highlights the beginning of them emphasizing "quaint" in their real life acquaintance. Oddly, Mrs. P is nowhere to be found....
First, Mr. P:
October 29, 2004
The Beginnings of Wisdom
Ten years spent sucking at the dry spiritual digs of the Episcopal Church have left their mark. Ten years of Lenten Series talks with titles like "The Night I First Realized I Was Gay" or "I Remember The First Night I Realized I was Gay" or "Gayness: My First Night of Self-Realization" have left me wishing I could hold my own seminar. Mine would be entitled, "The Night I First Realized I Was A Conservative". Of course, we'd have to invite different people.
Well, that dream is about to become a cyber-reality. Which is better than regular reality because we're not trapped in an over-heated church basement with a bunch of Episcopalians all admitting to themselves that really, deep-down, they're gay. Or praying that they don't get tapped to stack all the chairs after-wards.
To get the ball rolling, I'll tell my story. The Night I First Realized I Was Conservative? It was during my freshman year at Princeton. (Humor me and say those last five words with Tony Curtis' version of Cary Grant's accent). I was dating--no, I'm not making this up--a Feminist Zionist. The movie the entertainment committee was shoving at us that weekend was (I think) "Straw Dogs". Attacked by a band of local hooligans, Dustin Hoffman spends the later part of the movie defending his home and, if I remember right, his wife's honor. To accomplish this, Mr. Hoffman uses an assortment of fireplace implements which he brandishes to the accompaniment of an LP of Stirling pipes and rolling drums.
I can still recall my date congealing in the chair next to me. The only conscious reaction she allowed herself was a short, sarcastic expulsion of breath. But the picture of a man being, well, a man was clearly gall and wormwood to her. I, on the other hand, was riveted. True, the pipes and drums have seldom failed to stir my blood. On the other hand, what was happening on screen was what pipes and drums are all about: defending your turf. Standing your ground. Never saying die. A vision of the Highland squares breaking Ney's cavalry onslaught at Waterloo rose before me.
As I trudged dorm-wards after saying goodnight, I mused on what sort of philosophy would put itself so squarely against the natural order of things (I'm talking about Feminism, not Zionism). Of course, I still thought Alan Alda was a great actor, that Viet Nam was somehow all Nixon's fault and that people who voted Republican were short a chromosome. But my long trek had begun...
Sir Basil responds to Mr. P's request:
I Y'am What I Y'am
(title by Mrs. P and pinched from Popeye)
Sir Basil Seal
My Dear Mr. and Mrs. P, I am typing this on the word processor in order to forestall any heckling out of the peanut gallery (Misspent One)…I, like my Lord, Sir Reverence, never really had a choice in the matter. My father, Magnus and my mother were both devout Catholics who attended Mass daily, and like me, refused to attend anything other than the Latin Mass, when a choice was provided. They had married late, and were a generation older than my childhood friend’s parents. So they were in the world, but not of it. I think that still applies to me. Anyway, we were all expected and directed to be dyed-in-the-wool Orthodox Catholic conservatives from the moment we were breached. Magnus also taught patriotism, and was always fond of telling us that he loved his country, he just hated everyone who lived in it. We were allowed no television, no cinema and under no circumstances were we to listen to that ‘African music’, although he loved baseball passionately, and had even played professionally at one point. So my brothers and I spent many a day at the ball park, learning to keep score on the scorecards which were given out for free back in the day. We were allowed the Classics of literature, art and music, and he would turn a blind eye to novels that were written by Catholic writers (except for Graham Greene). Magnus was old school, when one of my sisters (who had decided she was for women’s rights) went into the billiard room at his club, which was all male, and refused to leave, he called security and had her arrested for trespassing. He disowned her for a time, but my Mother (my poor sainted Mother) talked him out of it. He would also troop us all out to dinner on Sunday afternoons, to save Mother from having to cook. Most of the time we would march in, be seated, say Grace, look up to see Magnus walking out of the door. He would spot something amiss, a spot on a glass, dirty flatware, wilted flowers, something…so he would get angry, berate the management and walk home. We would all continue with our meal, my Mother looking nervously about, and then pile back into the car (a big car) and usually swing by and pick him up a few blocks from the house. Old Magnus was the cross my Mother chose to bear, I guess. Magnus also laid down the law concerning the spiritual direction of the lives of his 10 children. I received 18 years of education, courtesy of the Benedictines and when goaded by my Mother into discussing the ‘birds and bees’ with my brothers and I (we were all over 25 at the time) he just lowered the corner of his newspaper, glared over the top of his bifocals, and said, ‘if any of you boys get some girl with child, don’t come crying to me’. He paused for a moment to let it sink in, as it were, and then went back to his paper. He was something of a road map, was old Magnus. He was very serious too; I have an older sister who married, against his wishes, outside of the faith (yes, the same that was in the billiard room)…He has neither seen nor spoken to her since, and that was 25 years ago. Recently, he took one of his grandsons downtown to get some ice cream, and the child talked back to him (not a bright kid) so Magnus got in the car and left him. He got home that evening sans grandson and told my Mother what an ill mannered child he was, and cast dispersions on one of his sons' parenting skills (not me)…So, my Mother had to drive the 30 miles back to the ice cream stand to pick the kid up, he was still there, although the stand had closed. So you see, we really had no choice, being the children of Magnus. And don't get me wrong, he is a good man and we all love him dearly, although he is a little odd sometimes. Well, I guess 9 out of 10 is not so bad in today’s world. So you see, for me, it is in the blood...
Well, everyone knows insanity runs in the blood. But does truly desperate? Oh, and the answer is yes, Sir Basil eats his spinach. Absolutely loves it in fact. Even on pizza. But really, even the insane are capable of knowing a good thing when they see it.
(It will be some time before Patum Peperium resumes its regular Tuesday-Friday posting schedule. Until it does, we thank you for your patience.)