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Travel Journal, Days Seven and Eight: London to New York

They say that London is the city that never sleeps, and viewed through a haze of flu medication it does take on an electrifying tinge. Rob and I reserved room 333 at the Langham Hotel because it has a reputation for being haunted. The check-in clerk asked if we were ghost hunters. Was it the crystal balls and floor-length cloaks that gave us away?

Soon after arriving, I tried to take a nap but was startled to full consciousness when the bed shook. There was a thump and a simultaneous jarring of the mattress; I was able to recreate both of these sensations afterward by kicking the side of the mattress sharply with my heel, but of course, there were no visible heels that might have caused the first incident. Rob was taking a bath. I knocked on the bathroom door and said, “The bed shook.”

“OK, honey.”

Later, we met Campbell for tea at the Wolseley. Although we had a truly delightful time, he must have snuck poison into my cup. By the time we got back to the room, I was fighting off chills and severe body aches. Rob had arranged for us to meet another blogger, Sherry, that evening, but as the time approached, it became clear that I could barely function. Rob advised me to take a bath, while he met Sherry alone at the hotel bar. I could join them later if I felt better, he said. But I never did feel better. As my fever rose, I first tried to cure myself with a tiny can of Pringles and a tiny bottle of orange juice from the mini-bar (cost for both: fourteen dollars) then sank into a trance under the duvet. My heart was racing; so, too, were my thoughts. I tried to clear my mind and take deep breaths to relax, but that was when I started hearing voices. The rose up around me like a tide, quite audible but largely unintelligible, and obviously coming from within my own delusional head rather than the hotel corridor. It was like listening into several different conversations at once but only being able to hear isolated phrases clearly. The one that stuck with me (it repeated several times) was someone intoning, “The plan for the seventh,” to which someone else responded with a phrase in French I couldn’t understand.

My body temperature was so high, I couldn’t move, barely even blink. Rob came back and I remember feeling it was very important to tell him what was happening, but I could barely croak out a complete sentence. Luckily, he realized right away that I was burning up and fed me some ibuprofen and started putting cool rags on my head. My fever rose and fell throughout the night and into the next morning, when we were supposed to meet a new business contact, Nick, in the lobby. We had a whole day planned—discussions, negotiations, and going to an expo to see some of his products in person before dashing to Heathrow to catch our flight—but I could barely make it to the lobby. Nick was very understanding and we sat in the hotel café for a little while instead. Then I went back upstairs to take a nap before we checked out.

The journey home was the biggest nightmare: rushing to the right Underground station, standing for an hour in a packed car, waiting in line at the Heathrow security checkpoint, and finally being crammed for seven hours into the airplane seat with my head about to burst from the changes in pressure. That night, finally home in New York, my fever spiked up again, and the next morning, I had to consume a boxful of flu medicine to remain upright long enough to catch the Amtrak to Baltimore, but it wasn’t until I started coughing up blood that I thought about going to a doctor.

And that was how I spent my Last Vacation Ever.

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The Forbidden Word

When I was a child, I knew that there was a lung infection people talked about all the time, called ammonia. Another lung infection, called pneumonia, was much more serious: so much so that people could not bring themselves to say its name, only to write it down. It was a forbidden word that, if ever spoken aloud, would be pronounced “puh-noo-me-uh.”

I, myself, was partial to bronchitis, a disease I have contracted every year of my life, thanks no doubt to early and extensive exposure to second-hand smoke. I have never had pneumonia (or ammonia, for that matter) until the present day, and you can imagine how happy I am to have developed it in middle of my Last Vacation Ever. Scottish puddles did this to me, and United Airlines probably had a hand in it, too. Scotland and United Airlines will pay for their evil deeds, oh yes they will, for I have a long memory.

I am lying. I actually have a short memory. Tomorrow, I will be cozying up to Scotland and United Airlines, just like always.

Tomorrow, I will also continue posting my travel journal. Writing about it now, it’s funny to look back now and have a classification for all of those bizarre symptoms I was manifesting besides “conspiracy of poltergeists.”

Although poltergeists and pneumonia both are supposed to respond well to garlic.

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This Just In

I have ammonia.

Update: Rob has ammonia, too.

We’ll return to our travel journal after these messages.

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Travel Journal, Days Five and Six: York

Woe unto me, Travel Journal, for I am sick! So is Rob. So is the lesbian couple from Tennessee in the other attic room at Merrie Olde Bede and Breakefaste. Four sick American homosexuals, all in a row.

York is a lovely and ancient town, which appears to have started out as a Roman fort back in prehistoric times. Constantine was crowned emperor there, and we all know what trouble he went on to instigate. I’m not sure that we’d all be better off worshiping Jupiter, but just maybe.

There is a monster Minster in York (masquerading as Westminster Abbey, except I don’t think it’s an abbey); we walked through there on one day and across the old city walls the next, but mostly we sat around and tried to recover and tried not to make any Old York versus New York jokes where the Old Yorkers could hear. Also, we tried to go to a psychic museum, but they didn’t seem to realize we were coming. We also missed the ghost tours, unfortunately, although I got the pricklies at a couple of points in the Minster and in the gift shop of the railroad museum.

We also had Yorkshire pudding. I’m not sure Bill Cosby would recognize it, but it was decent. York is nice.

P.S.: We were also suffering from Internet Withdrawal, but we’re better now.

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Travel Journal, Day Four: Edinburgh to Inverness and Back Again

Now we’ve gone and done it. Today, Rob and I had the audacity to ride the train from Edinburgh to the city of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, eat a late lunch, and ride back on the return train-the equivalent in America of traveling round-trip from New York to Boston for a quick bite at the International House of Pancakes.* This was actually Rob’s idea, one of which I was slightly wary at first, but we both wanted to see the mountains and to get our money’s worth on our rail passes.

Also occupying our small coach were two other American couples (one of whom appeared insane and the other of whom raised wiener dogs for fun and profit) and an elderly English couple that boarded with a covered picnic basket and maintained an hours-long running commentary during which neither one of them stopped speaking for an instant. I secretly dubbed them the Conversationalists. Wiener Dog One and Wiener Dog Two were also elderly and rather pleasant. They shared our table and light conversation. The Wild-Eyed Duo sat across the aisle and alternately looked lovingly at each other and glared disapprovingly at the scenery.

I had expected that, like any mountain town, Inverness would resemble Wheeling, West Virginia.** There is a river down the middle of the city that today was rapid and swollen with the spring melt-off. Indeed, the entire Highlands landscape was swampy, and the rail company had threatened to shut down the tracks because of flooding.

When I wasn’t looking out the window, I spent much of the journey reading my history of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. As well as being cousins and sister monarchs, it is a little-known fact that these two, upon retiring from their thrones, traveled to Boston to jointly open a Ye Olde International House of Pancakes Shoppe. You read it here first.

 

* Today, I also am audacious enough to switch my travel narration from the present tense to the past, considering I’m writing these things at the end of each day and not as they happen. Who did I think I was fooling? Did anyone actually think they were getting up-to-the-moment reportage? (And yes, we really went to a pancake restaurant.)
** I have no idea whether it does or not, as I have never been to Wheeling, West Virginia.

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Travel Journal, Day Three: Edinburgh

Thanks to the illiterate chimpanzee that has somehow had itself crowned emperor of the world, the American dollar is extraordinarily weak, which means Scotland is Ex.Pen.Sive. Even if we were to change the £ on every price to a $—leaving the number itself the same—things would cost more than they do in New York. I try not to remember that one £ is actually worth two $, because that means that I spent approximately sixty dollars on a Denny’s-quality dinner last night. But Scotland is a swanky town, and this is to be expected. You have to put a coin in a turnstile just to use a public bathroom, a far cry from the days when everyone used to throw their poop out the window at the stroke of ten p.m. Progress don’t come cheap.

Today, we visit Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s residence in Scotland. I have been there before, but it’s good to be reminded of what Mary, Queen of Scots, gave up when she abdicated the throne and moved to the United States to begin a new career of drooling all over my bedspread. No, wait, that’s Goblin. Mary, Queen of Scots, lived in a little room the size of my apartment and saw her secretary murdered in front of her eyes by her jealous husband and a gang of conspirators who manipulated him into it.

Next, we eat at a restaurant called ChocolateSoup.*

It’s a beautiful day: quite warm, mostly, and only a few minutes of rain. The night gets chilly in time for our second ghost tour, run by a company called Auld Reekie.** This tour is another historical meander through the Old Town, followed by another alleged poltergeist, this one in the “vaults” that exist under the city (poltergeists are apparently a cottage industry in Edinburgh these days). These underground corridors are quite creepy, and I actually get a few tingles of supernatural energy. I notice the man next to me surreptitiously extend his hand, palm out, in the same way that I do when I “feel” something, and I take this as outside confirmation. Later, Rob tells he felt the same thing. This turns out to be the only ghostly phenomenon, although there is a long list of reports from other recent tours.

And then the walk back to the bed and breakfast. It’s not that far, but I feel as if we’ve worn a groove in the pavement, trekking to and from the city center as much as we have. We walked twelve miles yesterday and more than ten today. My new Steve Maddens are beginning to feel like fashionable horseshoes. Hopefully, I don’t throw one; I’m sure there is a street in Edinburgh lined with blacksmiths eager to replace it, but I don’t have that kind of money. Cha-ching! (And gardyloo!)
* ChocolateSoup is the scrumptious love child of Starbucks and Soupmasters that was unfortunately passed over in the line of succession.

** Which we would claim is another name for Goblin, except she ain’t that auld.

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Travel Journal, Day Two: Edinburgh

Scotland is truly the city of brotherly love. Britain is truly the city of no one knowing what side of the sidewalk to use. Scotland is in Britain, so it’s two, two, two cities in one. They want you up and out early in this bed and breakfast, which is why they start serving the breakfast part before eight. Because we got almost enough sleep, it’s almost possible to forget that’s only three o’clock in the real world, but shortly thereafter, fortified with runny scrambled eggs and playing sidewalk dodge-em, the awareness creeps in around the edges.

Rob wants to go into a high-end department store to look at their spoons. I then guide him across the gorgeous park that separates New Town from Old Town, where we climb the hill to Edinburgh Castle. The history of Edinburgh Castle is that it was made of stones personally quarried by Mary, Queen of Scots, and she built the thing, too, from the ground up. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in the castle, was imprisoned there for being a witch, and died there in nineteen eighteen. They used to let Mary, Queen of Scots, in for free since it was hers, but it costs us nine pounds eighty to get in, which is almost twenty dollars. The views from the ramparts are breathtaking, and you can see all the way across the Fifth of Fourth, which is some water. There are a bunch of mannequins of Mary, Queen of Scots, hanging about. We have shortbread and watch an army guy fire the one o’clock gun, which is an extremely loud howitzer they fire at 1:02 every afternoon.

(OK, I am very tired now. I will take a nap before telling you the rest. I hope you appreciate this, folks . . . they don’t tell you this stuff in the guidebooks!

Snooze.

And we’re back!)

After the castle and a breeze through the nearby kilt-making factory, we meet a cleverly disguised Hare Krishna, who attempts to sell us CDs of his Hare Krishna rock band. He is very cute and has an official-looking clipboard that stating he is twenty-four years old. Somewhere, I need to get a hold of an official-looking clipboard stating I am twenty-four years old. If I have to become a Hare Krishna, so be it.

We walk around some more, through Greyfriars cemetery and a bit of the Museum of Scotland. Although the day has shaped up to be quite lovely, and its view of the city is breathtaking, Greyfriars is a creepy corner of Old Town. Right away, I get the distinctive prickling in my palms and forearms that tells me there’s a ghostie afoot. Later, after the most expensive bowl of spaghetti ever to emerge from a boiling pot of water, we return there with the City of the Dead ghost tour.

Night has fallen, and the beautiful day has turned once again to rain. I swear, the Scots are impervious to rain. They actually repel it. Within moments, I’m drenched, but no one we pass looks uncomfortable or even wet. We have already bought our tour tickets, so we’re going through with it, rain or no. The guide is animated, brilliant, and funny. He explains some of the city’s history, uses Rob as a dummy to illustrate a particularly gruesome torture technique, and leads us to Greyfriars for the coop de gracie, the Mackenzie Poltergeist, a menacing creature that has made headlines the world over for actually attacking tour groups. The tour’s propaganda notes that the Covenanters’ Prison corner of the graveyard (where the poltergeist works its magic) has been named the World’s Scariest Place by whomever goes around bestowing such titles, so I have high hopes. Just inside the cemetery, Rob and I befriend a young Canadian woman who is traveling alone and wants the protection of our company (such as it is). We walk around the graveyard, slogging through sticky black mud, and finally end up in the famously haunted area. The Canadian woman locks arms with me. We crowd nervously into an open tomb, where the guide recounts tales of the Poltergeist. Suddenly, he plunges us into darkness, and . . .

Out pops Mary, Queen of Scots!!!

No, seriously . . . nothing. Nothing happens. I don’t even feel the tingling from before. We might as well be in a particularly dank elevator.

I would be disappointed, except, well, I’m not. Here I am with my husband holding one hand, a strange Canadian woman clamped to the other, on a pitch-black night, in the chilly rain, standing in an ancient tomb, with one of Europe’s most beautiful cities bustling around me.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

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Travel Journal, Day One: Edinburgh via London

Heathrow. Passport control. Underground at the height of the morning rush. Finally, King’s Cross for our train to Edinburgh. We had reserved seats on the “Flying Scotsman” (which is British funny talk for “Amtrak Metroliner”); the tweedy, tartan, wood-paneled image conjured by the title is proudly flaunted by the next train over. Ours looks as if has just arrived, non-stop, from nineteen seventy-eight, but it’s comfortable enough. The English countryside, viewed from the Great North-Eastern Railway, is about as tamed as land can get. The occasional surprises are architectural-the manors, the towns, the ruins, the nuclear power plants-exactly the opposite of New Zealand, which looks as if it ordered its buildings out of the Sears catalog and plunked them down on the most stunning landscape known to man. But as we cross into Scotland, the natural beauty is apparent. I find myself scanning for “For Sale” signs on the lonely stone houses overlooking the roiling North Sea.

Edinburgh springs up out of nowhere. You’re in the countryside, you see a few scattered houses, and all of a sudden you’re downtown. Rob and I are too preoccupied with navigating our bags up all the stairs and orienting ourselves via the street signs to take in much of the breathtaking cityscape. It’s midafternoon, and we’ve been going since what is now yesterday morning; we leave sightseeing for later and focus on finding our bed and breakfast. Against all odds, I have memorized the map from their web site and manage to steer us down the busy streets (completely unmarked, by American standards) to the “gay-owned, straight-friendly” bed and breakfast Rob found in a guidebook. It is in a row of two hundred other beds and breakfast with alternating “Vacancies” and “No Vacancies” signs. I wonder what sorts of feelings exist between the various proprietors . . . on this street, everyone’s neighbors are in the exact same business and are, in fact, direct competitors. In America, they’d drag out the neon, but everything here is quite tasteful.

After checking in, Rob and I take the longest half-hour power nap in the history of the universe (it’s a fact that a half hour in American time is two hours Scottish) and decide to go out for dinner. Unfortunately, in the interim, night has fallen and it has begun raining: not a drizzle, not a downpour, but a steady, cold shower that soaks me to the bone, pools in my newly swabbed ears, and freezes the inside of my head. The other pedestrians do not seem affected. No one here walks with an umbrella so I don’t regret not having mine, but I wish I’d thought to pack a jacket with a hood. I’m blinded by the rain on my glasses, my jaw has seized up from the cold, and I’m irritable from discomfort. Luckily, Rob’s ears are clogged and he doesn’t perceive this. I want him to have a good time.

We cross the city, peruse a bookstore, and end up in a restaurant on the Royal Mile, where the friendly waitresses cluck over our waterlogged clothes and make us feel like long-lost friends. It’s warm, the food is delicious (I think Rob’s clothes get more of it than his mouth does), and after a bottle of wine and a scandalous dessert, we feel no pain. Even the smoke (these people seem not to have heard of smoke-free establishments) is not as problematic for my sickly lungs as it might be. Afterward, we drag ourselves back to the room and discover to our happy surprise that the bed and breakfast offers a wireless Internet connection, but we’re too tired to get much use out of it. Melatonin to smooth over any lingering jet lag, then luxurious sleep.

Note: This is my seven hundreth entry on this web log since it began. According to nine out of ten Edinburghers, that is officially a great many.

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Travel Journal, Day Zero: New York

(Note: Events posted here, and throughout the upcoming journal, are posted at least one day behind actually occurring. Consider it bloggy jetlag.)

The things I do to be pretty for you, Scotland. Yesterday, in preparation for my journey, I swabbed out my ears. You wanted to know this, right? My ears generate too much wax, as if gearing up to terraform a moon. I get them professionally cleaned every few months, and the professional ear cleaners always stress that I should not use cotton swabs, as they just push the wax in further. Fie, I say! Only the best for Scotland, land of butter.

We came to New York last night for today’s afternoon flight from JFK. A quick brunch with friends before we go: we shall insist upon calling it dinner so as to anticipate the time change. French toast for dinner. Rob’s cocktail is a mimosa.

United Airlines, I am not so thrilled with the way you carry people into the sky and have thus secured pills that will lessen your terrifying hold over me. I hope they’re strong enough. I hope they will prevent any undue panic even if I should suddenly find myself at the bottom of the ocean, or headed rapidly in that direction.

Pills, I swallow you now. Goodbye, New York. Goodbye Baltimore. Where I go, you cannot follow. I refer not to the drug-induced haze, where I rather suspect I’ve got nothing on you, but the wild blue yonder, blackened and made more treacherous by the night.

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Pure

It takes one-third of a pound of pesticides to grow the cotton used in just one conventional tee shirt. Oh yes. Take that, Banana Republic. I know, I know, your tee shirts are anything but conventional. That stretch, jade-green, tagless number you talked me into buying last week is the tee shirt of the gods. It’s true: all the gods are wearing pesticide-laden outfits this year.

I made a pact with myself that at least half of the new clothes I buy will be made from hemp or organic cotton, thus saving the world from systemic environmental collapse one tee-shirt at a time. I was going to buy some new Steve Maddens for my upcoming trip, but I decided to check out the shoe offerings at a little hemp store called Joshua Tree in the nearby town of Towson, where there were actually some nice ones, although none that could fulfill the role of a hot pair of Steve Maddens.* Joshua Tree is owned by perhaps the nicest, most transparently good person I have ever encountered, qualities he uses to his distinct advantage as a salesperson. Although I had gone in only for the shoes, and wasn’t even quite sure about those, I emerged with hemp shoes, a package of hemp socks, and a pair of green hemp pants . . . and no bag, because bags destroy the environment. Resplendent in my hempy righteousness, I marched back to my car and drove home.

I’m going back for the Steve Maddens tomorrow.

Their manuacture probably destroyed something or another, but at least I’m keeping my fifty-percent promise. I just fear I’m going to consume twice as much to get what I really want. Why oh why was I cursed with such a razor-sharp sense of style coupled with such an agonizing sense of guilt?

 

* Elegant yet casual, Steve Maddens are two shoes in one! Or is that four shoes in two?

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Nothing to See Here, Folks

I’ll have you know I’m censoring what I write here. Admit it: you don’t like it when I write about politics. I don’t like doing it, either. It’s not easy being absolutely right when the climate is structured around diametric opposition. Ask Galileo.* So, I write and erase, toiling over long manifestos before giving up and posting reveting news flashes about changing my poor dog’s name.**

This morning, I began an essay on how people who oppose the Iraqi war for logical and ethical reasons are considered treasonous terrorists fit only for use as human shields, while the nutjobs who support our junior dictator because they think he will help spark the End Times—thus destroying the entire world, including America—are considered a mainstream interest group and get guided tours of the White House.

So naturally, I will now change the topic to reveal what I did last night: jwer and I had a “writing date,” which was very romantic. First a candle-lit dinner at the Ambassador Dining Room, then a jaunt across town to the Evergreen Café, which would ordinarily have been a comfortable locale for tapping away on our laptop computers, except we arrived only a few minutes before they closed. I had time to have a cup of tea and get out only one sentence before we were cast out into the cold again. We then moved on to Starbucks, which was not only closing shortly itself but blaring the most annoying reggae music,*** anathema to my writing but (after I gave up and secretly began playing a video game) conducive to my best score ever in Cosmo-Bots.

Then we went home. Jwer invited me up for a nightcap, but I had to turn him down because I’m not that kind of author. Ask Galileo.
* Not that I’m comparing myself to Galileo, and you can’t ask him anyway because he’s dead.

** Today’s submission: “Delmarva Puffballette, Lunch Lady.”

*** I ordinarily find reggae tolerable, but this Bob Marley album is among the most overplayed ever, especially amongst teenaged baristas who think it makes them “deep.”

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Alternate Alias: Fabulous Female

I recently read an article about the lunatic fringe that voted for George W. Chimpanzee-Face because they believe he will usher in the End Times, and they want to Be There to See It. Rather than the infinitely more likely biological warfare or environmental collapse, I suppose they have in mind angels wielding flaming swords, smiting their imaginary enemies in cold blood while Good Christians cheer from the sidelines in between handfuls of microwave popcorn.

Our population is ever full of delights.

I have been watching “Wonder Woman.” Yes, “Wonder Woman,” the nineteen-seventies series featuring beauty queen Lynda Carter clad in a star-spangled bathing suit. Hubba hubba. The first season, which I bought on DVD, is set during World War Two, a time when Nazi spies popped, episode after episode, out of the woodwork, hell bent on besmirching the reputation of Major Steve Trevor, American Hero. “That will destroy the morale of the American people!” chirped Steve’s first secretary, Marcia (herself a Nazi spy attempting to besmirch the reputation of Major Steve Trevor, American Hero).

It was all in vain. Today, when our international reputation is mud, when we are the laughingstock of the world, the cold chrome veneer of our morale has barely a scratch. If the spine-chilling atrocities regularly committed in our name phase our Good Christians at all, it’s for no longer than a commercial break.

During World War Two, Wonder Woman always arrived on the scene in the nick of time, pulling Major Steve’s fat out of fire and leaving the fascist criminals with a stern lecture about the power of American freedom and sisterhood. (It took a team of wild horses to pull Wonder Woman, who had never seen a man before Trevor crash-landed on her all-girl island, off the sisterhood soapbox.) Today, as I prepare to venture forth from the country now run by our own, homegrown fascist criminals, I hopefully scan the horizon for an invisible plane-piloted by the Amazon princess-swooping in to rescue us all.

Until she arrives, I’m boning up on my Canadian accent.

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Ring around the Table

Last night, Rob and I went to see Two Gentlemen of Verona, a nineteen seventy-one musical based on Shakespeare's play. When we got home, I chased Goblin around and around the dining room table as she played “keep-away” with her stuffed hedgehog, Cher. We were having the time of our lives until I tripped over the pile of recycling conveniently strewn across the floor. Then she retired into a corner to chew lovingly upon Cher's nose, and I went to eat a hard-boiled egg.

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By Any Other Name, Part MCMXCVII

Our house has a fireplace in the bedroom for some reason, and on cold nights when Rob is away, I sometimes throw in a log before Goblin and I huddle under the covers alone. The other night was one of the coldest in a while, so I lit a fire, curled up with a little Boston terrier in my armpit, and—

Sniff sniff.

“Goblin, you smell like a fish,” I informed her.

In the flickering light of the fire, she gazed deep into my eyes and burped, exhaling a new wave of smell into my nostrils.

And that, my friends, is why I now propose changing Goblin’s name to Admiral Ensign Commando, Perfume Tester.

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An Important Question

What if I changed Goblin's name to Archbishop Blunderbuss Sauce Pot?

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Spoot

Marcy is off to a roaring start, but I cannot proceed without coming clean about a shameful item from my past. Marcy is all about honesty and redemption and sensible shoes.

When I was in college, I had a roommate named Jeffrey. My friend Brian, who lived next door, had a roommate named K____, whose tanned good looks and preppie fashion sense left him resembling a mannequin that had lingered too long in the sun.

Jeffrey and I, evil outcasts that we were, had nothing in common with this golden boy, and despite the fact that we lived about five feet away, neither of us ever exchanged a word with him. We didn’t even know his last name, except via the nametag on his door, which read “K____ Spoot.” For an entire year, we were tantalized by the idea that someone’s last name could be Spoot, and not a day went by that we didn’t make some sort of private joke about this. “Nice boots,” we’d say, slurring the two words together.

We were so extraordinarily clever.

At the end of the school year, I happened to be talking to Brian in his room and asked him how he liked living with K____ Spoot.

His reply was, “K____ Spoot? What are you talking about?”

“Are you drunk?” I demanded. “K____ Spoot? Your roommate?”

“I can’t believe you said that,” Brian said. “K____’s last name isn’t Spoot!”

Two semesters of silly wordplay flashed through my mind. Was it all for naught? How could I ever tell Jeffrey? “But, but, but that’s what it says on your door,” I whined. I showed him the nametag, which he had never noticed despite entering and leaving his room a dozen times a day.

“Oh, that’s funny, someone must have changed that for a prank,” said the good-natured, chronically unobservant Brian. “It should say Spoor, not Spoot. Someone changed the ‘r’ into a ‘t’.”

I was crushed, absolutely devastated. Jeffrey and I had spent a year making bad jokes about someone’s name, and it wasn’t even the right name. Lesson learned, I hung my head in shame. Really, the entire situation was its own punishment. Not only had we been living a lie, but we had missed the golden opportunity to make fun of someone whose last name was Spoor.

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March On

Today is the first day of March, a month named for Mars, the Roman god of war. Because of this, the Romans considered “Martius” an auspicious month to begin wars and imperial conquests . . . and we all know what happened to them. Our own aimless Iraqi quagmire began in March of two thousand three. Suddenly, March doesn’t seem so great after all. It may arrive like a lion, king of the jungle, but it departs like a royal funeral procession.

Let’s rename it.

The Saxons called the month Lenctmonat and Rhed-monat, which don’t exactly roll off the tongue. The ancient Britons called it Hyldmonath, which means “loud” or “stormy” but sounds more like a Vulcan mating ritual.

A moment ago, I tried to write “March” and ended up writing “Marcy.” This is a happy accident I think we should run with.

Today is the first day of Marcy, a month named for that lesbian girl in the “Peanuts” comic strip. Because of this, the Americans consider Marcy an auspicious month to rummage around in their closets for their springtime Birkenstocks and adopt lots of cats.