Miss Favor Diop, Seeking Friendship

     One of the pleasantries of the internet and email is the opportunity for expanding one’s friendships. For example, I recently received the following:

Hello
I ‘m a young lady called Favor Diop. I found interesting in your profile in that inspired me I discovered that my true partner for life and wants a serious relationship of love with you. If you are interested and have the intention that we should move forward, contact me via email:- I will send my pictures to you. It will be nice to receive your response.
Have a beautiful day.
Miss Favor

     I was touched; I was moved; I was gratified. After all, she found me inspiring, and thus showed good taste. I prepared the following reply, but in the end chose not to send it for fear of hurting her tender and generous feelings.

Hello Miss Favor,
     I was favored with your recent inquiry with the subject line “Hello am seeking for friendship.” I too have been seeking for friendship for quite some time. My wife and I just the other day were lamenting the sad state of our friendships, and so your recent missive gave us considerable pleasure not only in the reading of it (you have a delightful and inimitable prose style, including those clever syntactical whimsicalities), but also in the prospect of our gaining a new friend. I note that you observed that you “found interesting in [my] profile” and that it inspired you. This is flattering indeed, but I must, in all candor, assure you that I am, being of superannuated years, as homely in profile as in full face. Thus for you to infer from that profile, especially given my receding chin and generous nose, that you have discovered your true partner for life seems to me to exceed the facts. Of course these defects are no bar to true friendship of a platonic sort. I could envision the three of us, along with some other friends of our acquaintance, discussing just the sort of issues that true friendship inevitably entails, such as theology, philosophy, art, and science. No doubt it is just such issues as these which prompted your thoughtful and charming letter in the first place, a letter from which I can see that you are a lady of depth and substance. But alas, I fear that the grim and soul-less state of our society, with its intrusive strictures and incapacity for seeing the ethereal beauty of such friendship, might weigh heavily upon me. I can see that others might unjustly infer that you are seeking something other than your stated goal; they might find your protestations of true friendship insincere; they might even think that your words are fraudulent. While I know these calumnies not to be true, I confess that I am a slave to convention and decorum, and fearful of public disdain, and must therefore most regretfully decline the courteous hand of friendship which you have so graciously extended.
Have a beautiful day.
Mr. John

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Ivanhoe Revisited

From the archives:

     I have been reading, and thoroughly enjoying, the adventurous, charming, romantic, and utterly preposterous Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. It is most charming in its antique language, and nowhere more preposterous than in its putting such charming language in the mouths of untutored, illiterate rustics of the twelfth century. Still, it is delightful, and so I proffer a questionable attempt at imitation:

     Being homeward bound, two leagues out, I was assailed by a six-legged varlet who, in the manner of a cowardly ambuscade, thrust afore I could parry; and his rapier, though diminutive, did pierce my light armor in that self-same spot as our Lord and Savior received His holy wound upon the Cross. Failing to give a mortal blow, however, the dastard chose not to prolong his visit to the neighborhood, and afore I could send his infidel soul to the nether world, he escaped, true to the cunning and false valor of his race, leaving me to apply to my wound an ancestral poultice of palliative herbs, and thus to re-mount my middling born, yet noble steed, who bravely made his way homeward.

Translation:

     Six miles from home, a yellow jacket or wasp stung me. I put some chewing tobacco (which I carried just for that purpose) on the sting, got back on my bike, and rode home.

Hypocrisy as Fine Art

     Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa strains to find his artistic métier, and has succeeded wondrously in the art of hypocrisy. In his Valentine’s Day editorial in USA Today, he rails against the health care law and in particular the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health care insurance through their jobs or by purchasing it if necessary. What he conveniently omits is his support of the mandate in the 90s, when it was a Republican idea. But now that it is a Democratic idea, somehow it is a threat to the very foundation of American ideals, which back then he somehow did not notice. Then, when it earned his support, it was a way to prevent all taxpayers from having to bear the burden of the uninsured running to emergency rooms. Now, having earned his contempt, it is the first installment of the Stalinist State. He doesn’t really believe that, of course; it’s just one more Republican example of the Great Lie aimed at garnering public support for the insurance industry in the guise of Constitutional principles. If we can frighten enough Americans and take down the mandate, the whole of healthcare reform will fall, like a house of cards. Had he simply acknowledged that he previously had supported the mandate when it was a Republican idea, one might write him off as just your average beltway hypocrite, or possibly even a fellow who just changed his mind when the political breeze shifted. But no, that would have almost approached having real principles—and would have required actually attempting to explain why what was good as a Republican idea is now bad as a Democratic one. But where Grassley rises above the common masses of political hypocrisy—rises to Olympian heights of hypocrisy deserving of admiration and almost defying ridicule—is in his gnashing of teeth that “the new law rewards insurance companies with a massive new captive market.” His concern over rewarding insurance companies is marvelous. It is transcendent. It is Rembrandt-esque in its artistry.

John R. Rachal
February 17, 2011