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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Unrest, Rest, Civil And Uncivil

[I dedicate this to friend Willie who recommended I write this evening to ease a very real personal solicitude]
The coat of arms over this essay consists, according to Burke's, of two heraldic creatures, both bearing keys to conundrum (enigma) and looking quite upset, sticking their tongues out at an indecipherable figure of authority. This is a symbol familiar to all parents but that is not what this essay is  about. It is about the shield, depicting battlement and sword, which means there's been some sort of argument. There is also water, which I shall discuss later on.

Speaking of parents, about which this essay is not, I am one. Reckoning purely by the decibel level of their formative years, I would estimate I have raised several thousand children, and dedicated funds upward of twenty or thirty dollars doing so. I have learned a thing or two, both being that kids like to be told stories. It relieves stress. I enjoy it too, but the kids are grown, scattered across the world now and...excuse me, I have confused myself. A stress trigger. Recovery requires I arrange myself in a semi-circle and tell myself a story. You may join me, please.

Once upon a time, in an almost perfect kingdom situated along the river Avon (from which astronomers derive the term, nova, through reflector telescopes that reverse everything) that was so fragrant that representatives sold its waters door to door, there were only two social classes, king and rabble.
King and rabble got along fine until, possibly due to some regional accent, somebody misspelled the latter as "rebel". This ignited a protracted period of "rebellion", plunging the entire business of the kingdom into the king and rebels taking turns beheading each other. It is what becomes of semantically stratified societal limitations. Rebels may do rebellion where rabble can only do rabbleion and nobody knows what rabbleion is.

As a result, fields fell fallow, larders fell low on lard and sculleries clogged with skulls. So the king, weary of being an oft-beheaded indecipherable figure of authority, sent out a proclamation to be read not merely nearly and narrowly but far and wide as well. Here is its entire text: "HELP!"

In response, there came a great knocking at the great knocker on the main gate under the bailey arch. This refers to a great grated gate giving onto the bailey, a courtyard within walls of a castle,  named for Barnum and Bailey who invented a way of building one every minute. In reply to official castle protocol of demanding "WHAT?" of every great knocker knocking came the question, "Need a lawyer?"

The lawyer was admitted and, after exchange of greetings and solicitations with greeters and solicitors, settled into advising the much-beheaded king, and said, "You guys need a new mode of social interaction in this town."

"What do you suggest?" Asked the king. And by this time all the rebels had their ears pressed to the door.

"Defenestration!" Shouted the lawyer, so all eavesdropping beheadables could hear but he was quite a shouty fellow anyway.

"Eeeewww!" Cried the king and all the rebels, "sounds horrible and I bet it hurts!"

"Oh indeed," said the lawyer. "It means getting thrown out the window, probably into the river!"

So they gave it a try and the king, who had never bathed in his life, went first. The rebels were much amazed by his bravery and set themselves to babbling about how nice the king looked all washed up. Then they experimented with defenestrating each other and babbled about how refreshed they felt.

At which point, the lawyer, who was also a trained shouty societal semanticist, shouted, "RABBLEBABBLE!!!"

The rebels took up this shouty shout and repeated it and repeatedly defenestrated themselves until they forgot the word, rebel, entirely. They lolled upon the river bank and sighed, "Ah rabble, rabblebabble, clean rabblebabble too poopoopadoop!"

"Rabble that's had a bath!" Sighed the king, who retained the lawyer in perpetuity and lived rabbley ever after.

Which is how the town of Bath got its name.


  1. Well RubblyBubbly that is quite the saga of strife and cleanliness. If only the worlds miseries could be cured with a good clean up...I'd be the first one in the river. Unfortunately most of the rivers in the world are now full of garbage. Sigh....SlipperySlopery. Where's a good shouty lawyer when you need one?

  2. Are you a member of Mensa? I'm not being facetiousm I'm being quite serious. I always have to read your posts twice to catch all the puns. You definitely win the "wittiest blogger" award.

  3. As a lover of baths, but one with a fear of open windows (I can't pass by one without thinking of jumping out of it), on behalf of my fellow Rabbleions, I want to thank you.

    Don't answer the door tonight. You know how them Rabble be.


  4. If you had been my history teacher in high school, I might have declared it my major at university.

  5. There are certain blogs that put mine to pitiful shame and yours is one of them. I know that it isn't your intention to shame anyone, but you do - and you can take it as a compliment.

    Your posts make me smile and ponder and smile again, and often compel me to consult with dictionaries and encyclopedias. Which is a good thing.

    If "very real personal solicitudes" inspire you to write such delightful things, you should have more of them.

    Writing is a very effective form of therapy which often keeps us from committing acts of defenstration.

  6. Nice post. Bath was beautiful to walk around in all those years ago when I was there. History seemed to seep from its very pores.

  7. You've truly outdone yourself, dude, and if I took the time to tell you all the parts I particularly liked, my comment would be as long as your post. So I won't. LOVED it. Didn't see the punch line coming, either. You rabble-rouser, you. Dude.

  8. I simply adore you.
    Rabbly or babbly.

  9. Delores-- A good clean up always puts a fresh face on things. Lawyers and windows help too!

    Keith-- No Mensa. No thoughts, just irritable mental gestures but they serve me almost as well.

    Pearl-- Why you don't have to defenestrate to get a bath. Half the time I don't jump out the window at all.

    Suze-- Most kind, considering my history contained some minor inaccuracies.

    Jon-- Indeed, Willie's counsel helped me through that evening and I'm glad you enjoyed the result.

    Laoch-- Bath was built by Romans so there's plenty of history in those pores.

    Susan-- Most kind. Aquae Sulis became Bath less suddenly than my story suggests but dudes exaggerate sometimes.

    Austan-- Thanks! You're pretty adorable yourself.

  10. Ingenious, I must say. Exceedingly clever piece.

  11. Geezer-- Thanks, most kind.

  12. All history is revisionist, no?

  13. Suze-- Yes, but tomorrow perhaps not and the day after that, both --or neither-- but yes.

  14. Much-beheaded king - love that part.

    Defenestration is my wife's favorite word. Mine is superfluous. Avuncular is nice, too.

    Where's the photo? It looks French.

  15. Armchair Squid-- Thanks! Photo really is of the town of Bath in England.

  16. I love the word "defenestration," too. Just that such an act has its own word! And I think Squid needs to work up a sentence that uses all three of those favorite words.

    We visited Bath two summers ago: it was as gorgeous as promised. I wish I'd read your post before we went. I would have viewed it rather differently.

  17. Stephanie-- Thanks! Bath sounds lovely. And one of Squid's favorite words is "avuncular" which sounds anatomical. Men whose hearts have healthy avuncles become uncles.


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