Vol. 3, Issue 8, March 22, 2005
A Peerless Liniment Experience
The Dept. of Social Scrutiny

Ephram's Night At the Opera

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

I am often somewhat Stern with my nephew, and Deservedly so: rarely has such a stultifying combination of Cunning and Skill been coupled with such a complete lack of Ambition, Ethics, and personal Hygiene outside the halls of our Capitol. Yet I freely admit that Ephram has been of immeasurable Assistance in the launch and maintenance of our humble Publication, and he is a Watley after all. So I take scrupulous care to Reward his every infrequent bout of good Behavior, the better to Reinforce such tendencies, or at least that is my working Theory.

On this occasion I am treating my benighted nephew to a night at the Opera. They are showing The Magic Flute this season, an impartial ontological Paradigm which confounds our need to stamp a seal of good or evil on the perceived Dualities of the order of our Existence. Also, they serve wine and Absinthe in the lobby during the Intermission. However! - there are Rules for attending such an event; and I have been most Explicit in instructing Ephram on how to comply. In particular, he must dress Appropriately.

I believe I have had occasion to Describe his typical manner of Dress. To call Ephram "unkempt" is akin to calling the Pacific Ocean "wet." I long ago gave up on entreating him to wear a Cravat at work, provided that he at least wear a Shirt. Of cuff-links he knows Nothing, save those on the Police-man's irons (which Ephram has, alas, experienced during each of his Manifold arrests). Spats? I refrain from suggesting them, fearing that he should use them as excuse to refrain from Stockings of any sort. I must be realistic, but I did instruct him on the Essential Minimum: Hat. Gloves. Jacket. Top-coat. Shoes. Walking-stick. These bare essentials of proper evening Attire should, I believe, enable him to pass for a Gentleman in the dimmed lights of the Theater, or at the very least, for the Classier sort of pick-pocket.

And here he presents himself... Ah. I see. Yes, I suppose that is a sort of hat, provided that the base-ball athlete is not in Need of it at present. The gloves are of a most interesting Texture, in addition to being somewhat more Purple than usual; goodness, they appear to be made of India-rubber. I cannot bear to think of what you are calling a Jacket or a Coat as actual apparel, so I pass thence to the shoes... Good heavens man! Your shoes are on fire! - What? Ah: cunningly hidden Edison-lights in the soles. How very... modern of you. And your walking stick appears to be a sawed-off hockey-stick.

Well, my dear boy, the marvels of the Gramophone are simply wondrous to hear, and can be enjoyed right here in the privacy of my own Office. I happen to have a splendid recording of Mozart's operatic Masterpiece; and if we must forgo the rarified atmosphere of the Opera-hall, at least you may have unfettered access to the wine and Absinthe the whole performance through, rather than only at the Intermission.

Most fortunately, this plan meets with my nephew's Enthusiastic approval. Harrumph. One might think he wasn't planning on actually going to the Opera at all.


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