Thursday, March 31, 2011

dear Benjamin

Hey Buddy!  I've been thinking about you lately.  The other day I told your mom that most of the communication you and I share is nonverbal.  I love that.  We get each other, and we don't have to explain what we mean.  I love racing with you in the pool, although I hope you'll let me win a race someday soon while I'm still taller than you.  I love hearing about your Lego cities and complicated, wonderful drawings of cities and ships in space.  You still owe me a picture, by the way.  I love the times we've looked at each other and laughed, just between ourselves, at something that just happened.  And I'm so glad you're goofy, too.

Years ago, a man named P.G. Wodehouse wrote several stories and books about a goofy guy named Bertie Wooster, his valet Jeeves, his Aunt Dahlia, and many other funny characters.  I have his book Right Ho, Jeeves on tape, and I've listened to it so many times that I'm wearing out the tape because it makes me laugh so much.  It makes me happy, and I think of you, and I hope our relationship will be somewhat similar to Bertie's and his aunt's.  They are very close, which makes one of my favorite passages even funnier, in my opinion.  Your brain works a lot better than Bertie's, but I love their interaction with one another.  I hope you'll understand and enjoy this, now or sometime later, and send me an email or whatever we'll have in the future, and I'll send you a goofy one back.

In Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie, who is a rich young man living in London, has just returned to his home after spending two months with his aunt and cousin in France.  A couple of days after he gets home, he receives a telegram from his Aunt Dahlia, whose last name is Travers.  The telegram said:

"Come at once.  Travers."

Bertie is confused; he wonders why his aunt wants to see him again so desperately so soon.  Bertie says, '...yet here she was, with my farewell kiss still lingering on her cheek, so to speak, pleading for another reunion.   Bertram Wooster is not accustomed to this gluttonous appetite for his society.  Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that after two months of my company, what the normal person feels is that that will about do for the present.'

Bertie sends a telegram back to his aunt:

"Perplexed.  Explain.  Bertie."

Aunt replies, using a word that your mom and dad won't let me say in front of you, so I replaced it:

"What on earth is there to be perplexed about, (silly goose)?  Come at once.  Travers."

Bertie puzzles over this for a while, then responds:

"How do you mean 'come at once'?  Regards, Bertie."

"I mean come at once, you maddening half-wit.  What did you think I meant?  Come at once, or expect an aunt's curse first post tomorrow.  Love, Travers."

"When you say 'come,' do you mean come to Brinkley Court?  (His aunt's house.)  And when you say 'at once,' do you mean at once?  Fogged.  At a loss. All the best, Bertie."

"Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  It doesn't matter whether you understand or not, you just come at once as I tell you, and for heaven's sake stop this backchat.  Do you think I am made of money that I can afford to send you telegrams every 10 minutes?  Stop being a fathead and come immediately.  Love, Travers."

Bertie decides to ask his valet (helper) Jeeves, who is very smart, what he thinks the telegrams mean:

'Jeeves,' I said, ' these....What do you make of it, Jeeves?'
'I think Mrs. Travers wishes you to come at once, Sir.'
'You gather that too, do you?'
'Yes, Sir.'
'I put the same construction on the thing.  But why, Jeeves?  Dash it all, she's just had nearly two months of me.'
'Yes, Sir.'
'And many people consider the medium dose for an adult two days.'
'Yes, Sir, I appreciate the point you raise; nevertheless, Mrs. Travers appears very insistent, and I think it would be well to acquiesce in her wishes.'
'Pop down, you mean?'
'Yes, Sir.'
'Well I can't go at once....I'll wire her that I'll be with her sometime next week or the week after.  Dash it all, she ought to be able to hold out without me for a few days.  It only requires will power.'
'Yes, Sir.'

Bertie tells his aunt he'll see her later.  Aunt Dahlia doesn't appreciate his lack of urgency and respect, so early the next morning she drives from her country house to Bertie's house in London, marches into his room, and yells at him, waking him from a sound sleep.  Their conversation gets around to why she wanted Bertie to come to her in the first place.

Aunt Dahlia:  'Have you ever heard of Market Snodsbury Grammar School?'
Bertie:  'Never.'
'It's the grammar school at Market Snodsbury.'
I (Bertie) told her, a little frigidly, that I had divined as much.
'Well how was I to know that a man with a mind like yours would grasp it so quickly?...I'm one of the governours (of the school).'
'You mean, one of the governesses.' (teachers)
'I don't mean one of the governesses.  Listen, (silly goose).  There was a Board of Governours at Eton, wasn't there?  Very well, so there is at Market Snodsbury Grammar School, and I'm a member of it.'

Aunt Dahlia wants Bertie to make a speech at the school, but Bertie really doesn't want to.  He ends up sending a friend of his to his aunt's house, but doesn't tell his friend that he hopes the friend will get roped into making the speech for him.  After the frustration of the last two days, Aunt Dahlia doesn't respond well to a stranger just showing up at her house with a note from Bertie.  She wires (telegrams) Bertie:

"Am taking legal advice to ascertain whether strangling an idiot nephew counts as murder.  If it doesn't, look out for yourself....'

Bertie takes the next step in his plan to have his friend give the speech instead of him and wires back to his aunt:

'On consulting engagement book, find it impossible come Brinkley Court.  Deeply regret.  Toodleoo, Bertie.'

Aunt Dahlia's reply 'struck a sinister note': "Oh.  So it's like that, is it?  You and your engagement book indeed.  'Deeply regret,' my foot.  Let me tell you my lad, that you will regret it a jolly sight more deeply if you don't come down....Deeply regret Brinkley Court 100 miles from London as unable hit you with a brick.  Love, Travers."

In the end, Bertie goes to his aunt's but gets out of making the speech.  He causes a lot of funny problems at his aunt's house and drives her nuts and they live happily ever after.

Just like us, I hope.

Auntie Kerri

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