Rimshot, please. With a big nod to George Carlin's Hippy Dippy Weatherman: "The high tomorrow will be whenever I get up."
The thing is, I cannot even enjoy the fruits of my suffering. You know, complaining about it, putting in for my share of empathy, sympathy. Revisiting it constantly, in case anyone might forget that I am ill and in awful pain. Rating my pain on a scale of Mount Rushmoresque dimensions -- dimensions that my pain easily transcends, of course.
Normally, I'd be giving it a good go, working the program, modeling the meaning of real patience in a personal revisionist history of Job. I might regale the Domestic Staff (indentured-unto-perpetuity!) with Tales of My Inner Strength in the Face of Adversity. La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore will likely stare dully at photographic evidence of how my toenails have fused with scaly grey foot flesh. Poor Fred'll offer his
broad shoulders as I despair over every abject cushingoid feature that now defines my fascinating -- and yet, oh-so-alarming -- body habitus.
Are you feeling sorry for me yet? No? Harrumph. What's a person with raging Sick-Role Behaviors gotta do to harness a sustaining Bolus of Sympathy around here? Have you even heard of Talcott Parsons? I hate to see myself so... oh-what-*is*-the word, oh-what-*is*-the-expression?
So... obnoxiously needy?
So very much a gaping, sucking hole?
A friend of Fred's, one of the Angry Lesbian Existentialist Feminists he hangs with on Wednesday evenings, told him "most of [Retired Educator's] charm is in her brilliant self-referentiality." I think she meant my succulent auto-referentialiciousness but I fear it might actually be the gaping, sucking hole referenced above that she misperceives as one of the shining orbs lighting the gloom of her glorious dyke-ed-dness.
I'm just sayin'.
Unfortunately, we will have to find another time to fête my Poor Self, as the banging on our Mock Brunelleschi Baptistry Doors turns out to have heralded the unexpected arrival of Abbot Truffatore, the bald, bow-legged little man who lords it over his spiritual inferiors at the Cistercian Monastery-and-Office-Supply-Mail-Order-Depot down the road from Marlinspike Hall. Yes, he has fled The Brethren again, seeking respite at The Manor.
He has the unfortunate habit of yelling "Strada Puttana" before folding me into his long, hairy -- really rather simian -- arms. I tend to scream back, the embrace somewhat muffling my vocal puissance: "Bless me, You Simian Espèce de Nain!"
Fred thinks he is after The Castafiore, and -- furthermore -- that Bianca is doing her fair share of flirting. She just happened to pick the exact moment of his arrival to pirouette by the Baptistry Entrance in a flimsy peignoir of virginal white chiffon, hemmed to a length that can only be called High-Thigh.
Thank God for the generous smocking and beading on the bodice, else I fear the Church would have one less lusty abbot to stand as moral example to the Laity of Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs).
Just in case you were thinking of doing the same sort of thing -- turn up uninvited on our drawbridge -- let me fill you in on something. I may very well make nice and tell you to come by for a visit "any time," and promise you, too, that the best suites of The Manor stand pristine, fluffed, and aired, all in anticipation of your arrival. I might mention that we are keeping a côterie of executive chefs, four sommeliers, and a smorgasbord of sous chefs, pastry chefs, and the best saucier northwest of The Alp -- and while all of that is true, I still expect at least the decency of a week's warning before the three matching suitcases you got for graduation are plopped down on the dazzling white Carrara marble of our doorstep, rumored to be a true scrap from Michelangelo's David.
We believe in the sanctity of Carrara marble, just as Abbot Truffatore believes that The Holy Foreskin,* preserved and displayed in a domed pastry tray (specially designed and electronically monitored by Brinks Home Security), imparts a miraculous fecundity of faith to any of his Monastic Postulants fallen prey to wavering belief. Ever since the Novice Master, Father Guido, made it mandatory for all postulants to experience the eternal rhythm of the Night Watch while closeted in the sacristy cupboard where The Holy Foreskin is kept safe from the ill effects of light and humidity, every novice has gone on to profess Final Vows. Coincidence? You decide. Ironically, it is that same robust statistic that sometimes drives The Abbot beyond the cloistered walls of the Cistercian Monastery-and-Office-Supply-Mail-Order-Depot -- and right into our arms.
|Carrara Marble Quarry, details, photo by Edward Burtynsky|
The Abbot travels light, of course, bringing only his jammies and a toothbrush. Captain Haddock, ever prescient, orders that several outfits of plain but high-quality clothing be kept ready for just such a guest. It was a bit shocking the first time we saw our local spiritual leader decked out in lederhosen. Fred has tried to make chinos and a casual broadcloth oxford available once the intense heat of summer is past.
I quartered The Abbot in a never before used collection of rooms, added as much luxe to the mix as I thought he could stand (a sensual blend of satin and flannel bedding -- in colors to make him blush; a series of flat, faceted Cézannes -- to make him, I confess, slightly uneasy).
Anyway -- it's the principle of the thing. With a week's notice, we wouldn't have to worry about stuff like whether we've a supply of your favorite coffee bean or whether you risk being housed in the same wing as the 40 Chinese tumblers who prefer training in the corridors to working out in the barns.
Then, too, I might manage to be better behaved were I to have some warning about overnight visitors. My Inner Bitch has been unleashed for several days now, fault of too much pain, too little sleep, full body slam-style spasms, medication side effects, and blood sugars that drop or rise according to Mystical Rules of Diabetic Devastation (from 320 to 41 in an hour and a half!). She's quite vain, My Inner Bitch, and can be calmed, seduced, and lured back to quiescence when threatened with public exposure.
* This is the best scholarly reference for Christ's Foreskin that I found, and it does little, really, except heighten the mystery of how this holy penis tip came to Tête de Hergé's little known Cistercian monastery:
The Holy Umbilical Cord is a first class Catholic relic (that which is composed of a body part) of Christ. Christian teaching generally states that Christ was assumed into heaven corporeally.
Therefore the only parts of his body available for veneration are parts he had lost prior—hair, blood, fingernails, milk teeth, his prepuce and the umbilicus remaining from his birth.
It was written somewhere that the Virgin kept and coveted her son’s umbilical cord. She possessed it most of her life before handing it off to Saint John who, in turn, passed it along (as the story goes) to the Bishop of Ephesus.
But how versions of the Holy Navel ended up in the French towns of Lucques and Châlons-sur-Marne is a mystery, especially considering Rome had one, too.
The Eternal City’s blessed belly button was kept in the Sancta Sanctorum (the Holy of Holies) along with the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul, a chunk of wood from the Last Supper (which can still be seen tacked to the wall), and, until 1527, the Holy Foreskin.