Tudorama

“Double double toil and trouble.” Oops, wrong story. Just a sec. Oh, here it is. Right where I put it. Amazing what you can’t see without your glasses. So here goes.

In Merry Olde England, there was a very happy couple. He called her Puddin’; she called him Dumpling. Would have called him her Doughboy, but that one had already been taken by the King of France. Francis One.

Annie Boleyn met Henry on a blind date. She was a sub for her sister Mary Beth. When he walked into the Great Hall of Boleyn Estates and her two peeps saw him, it was love at first sight. It was true that he did look like a doughboy. That was the charm of King Hal. Plus there was that twinkle in his eye, and he was a regular party guy.

Within hours of his arrival, King Hal had a party going at Casa Boleyn. It was a toga party. After all, Hal was a regular practitioner of toganomics. If a courtster was unwilling to wear a toga at court, he was on his way outster. The outster for most was Scotland where the lord in question was condemned to wearing a kilt without underpants. One could get a chill and catch the flu.

Pretty soon Annie eased up close to Hal. She wanted a little kissie-poo as she called it. The king was real accommodating with the kissie-poo, but soon he was wanting more. He was wanting Annie to share her boudoir. She may have been the partyingest of party girls, but she wasn’t about to give Hal the key to her chastity belt for free. She’d heard stories. He even said, “Pleeeze with a cherry on top.” But Annie wasn’t about to give in.

“I’m not that kind of girl,” Annie said. She was not about to be easy, even for a king. Annie being Annie, she had found her Daddy Warbucks in Hal and that was all there was to it. Opportunity came knocking, and she was ready to open the door. But Hal had to purchase a ticket to walk through that door. And her ticket was not cheap. It was a 500 carat diamond wedding ring.

Hal was devastated. This was definitely a true love he had for Annie. He could feel it in the way down yonder. He said, “Don’t be a heartbreaker, Puddin’. Don’t you know I’m a hunka hunka burning love?”

Annie’s response was a smile and a few words. “I really would like to give you the key to my heart, Dumpling. But I will need a ringie-poo pretty please with pudding on it.”

Hal could give his Puddin’ the sable she wanted. He could give her an Astin Martin. He could even give her the Queen Mary. But that wedding ring was out of the question. He already had a wife. If Hal had been a Middle Eastern potentate, he could have potentated all over the place and married as many women as he wanted. Deep down in the heart of Texas, Hal wanted a harem.

His wife was Catherine of Aragon. Thing was, Cate was no Annie Boleyn. She had her daddy’s looks and her mother’s hygiene. Like her mom, Isabella, Cate hated to take a bath. She wasn’t partial to showers either. So the odor coming from her boudoir was a bit overpowering. Not in a good way. At one time, Hal sent in the fumigators. But the smell returned within a week. Add to that, Cate wore one of them smiles upside down. So much so she was called Sourpuss, or SP for short. She was the original SPCA, short for Sour Puss Cate of Aragon.

On top of everything else, each fortnight she walked around the castle like Hamlet’s ghost, mumbling, “I can’t get no respect.” It was true. Cate got no respect. Hal wanted a boy and all he got from Cate was a Mary.

“So what to do?” Hal asked himself one dark and stormy night. “What to do?” Then with a flash of brilliance it came to him. “I know. I will get a divorce,” Hal said, and he said it where everybody could hear.

“A divorce?” one courtster said.

“A divorce?” another courtster echoed.

When the echoing finally settled down, King Hal commanded the Pope to give him a divorce. After all, Hal was the Pope’s right hand man in England and Defender of the Faith. But the Pope wasn’t up to the job. He had other things on his mind. Like Cate’s brother, the King of Spain. King Charlie had an army close to Rome and he wasn’t hesitant in using it.

Besides that, it would set a precedent. Precedent is legalese for all those things that come before everything else and give folks permission to do a thing. Like, if you marry a virgin, she has to be a virgin in order to get a divorce. Cate was no virgin. She had a kid name of Bloody Mary. And, no, she was not mixed with vodka. Mary was a teetotaler all the way.

Pretty soon any earl or lord would want a divorce. Before you knew it, the papacy would be so overloaded there wouldn’t be any time left for infallibilities, bulls and indulgences. What if the Pope wanted to profligate a Papal Bull or two, he wouldn’t be able to rope the darn thing and ride him all the way to Rome. No, the Pope had decided. Divorce wasn’t going to happen. So Pope said, “No way. Pretty soon we’d be backed up with all that paper work.”

Hal’s motto was “Esse rex bonum est.” He had a coat of arms to prove it. Now he felt like he was in Nowheresville.

“What to do?” Hal asked everybody. “What to do?” he even asked himself. No one had an answer.

Then he received a letter from far far off. It was across the Channel. It was from Germany. Unfortunately it was written in German and no one could translate it. Hal and his subjects could barely read Latin. But German? Nobody, but nobody could do German. Then Hal realized, “My portrait painter Hans can. Yes, he can can, can he not?”

“Of course, he can can,”” a duke said. So did an earl. In fact, it was the Duke of Earl.

Hans translated the letter. It was from one Marty Luther. “Hal,” Marty wrote, “Is not your motto, esse rex bonum est? Of course, it is. It indeed is good to be the king. As king, you have the right to a divorce. If the Pope don’t like it, he can go out and start his own church. That’s what I did.”

Before Cate could spell it, she was singing D-I-V-O-R-C-E. When asked by a reporter years later about the whole thing, all she could say was, “Yes I have no bananas today.” There was even a rumor that she was zombified in her later years. But I think it was Mary, Queen of Scots, who pushed that gossip.

Anyway Hal got his divorce and a church to boot. He also got the key to Annie’s chastity belt. On their wedding day, King Hal increased every Englishman’s sheep allowance two-fold. That’s twice in today’s lingua franca.

For a while, Puddin’ and Dumpling were just as happy as two finches in a birdbath.

Well, y’all know what happened next. Annie gave Hal a Liz, not a Tom, Dick or Harry. And certainly not a Richard Burton. So his smile turned upside down. Annie delivered a girl. Yes, you heard that right. She gave birth to an eight pound two ounce little darling. Called her Elizabeth, or Bess for short. But oh boy, no boy.

Again Hal was what-to-do-ing all over the place. Then he came up with a plan. Let’s call it Plan B. Hal would get another divorce and then get married again. He already had a victim, I mean a queen picked out. After all, Hal could have the pick of the litter. And Jane Seymour, not the actress, but the daughter of John and Margery, was his Queen for a Day.

So what was Hal to do with Annie? Here’s where Plan Boleyn came in. Annie would be accused of consortin’ with those she shouldn’t be consortin’ with. Treason with a capital T. A trial, Then she would be singing “Going out of my head”. The executioner would do a Lizzie Borden.

But the truth was that Hal couldn’t bring himself to truly rid himself of Annie. She was his Puddin’. She was his One True Love. At the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion, Hal got a sub for Annie. No one would know the difference. Except for the sub. Sub would wear a hoodie. Annie would hide out in a nunnery down the way. Only there weren’t any nunneries left in England. Instead Archbishop would start a Home for Wayward Girls and Annie would supervise. Then once a fortnight Archbishop would slip Annie in the back way to Windsor Castle and up to Hal’s room.

And that’s the real story. Not.

The National Holiday We Ignore

September 17th is one of the national holidays we choose to ignore. It’s Constitution Day. It’s the day Congress has set aside to honor the United States Constitution and commemorate its signing on September 17, 1787 by the delegates of the Constitutional Convention.

We all know about the Declaration of Independence when our founding fathers proclaimed that we had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all know about Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, reminding Americans that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The United States Constitution is the document that guarantees our rights and answers the question: What kind of government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.

And despite everything we might think, it’s pretty easy reading. It’s only 7591 words long which means it can be read in an  hour.

Just to get you started, here’s the Preamble:

 

And though we haven’t always lived up to those words as a country, they still inspire us to be better.

I have learned two things about the Constitution. As we have added Amendments to those original words, we have asked the Constitution to do two things:
1.Limit the power of Government, and
2.Expand the Rights of Americans.

When we lose sight of those two things, we have go astray. Consider the 18th Amendment. It was the Prohibition Amendment that banned the sale of alcohol. in 1933, we had to admit “Ooops, We made a boo-boo” and ratified the 21st Amendment which meant the 18th Amendment was no longer law.

Today is the 234th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. Maybe as a birthday present to the Constitution, we might read it. I know I will.

And if you’re looking for some helpful reading on the Constitution, here’s three excellent books:

The U.S. Constitution and Other Important American Documents (No Fear) by SparkNotes (A modern reading of the Constitution)
The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk
The Bill of Rights: A User’s Guide by Linda R. Monk

Just the facts…historians on the case.

When Sgt. Friday said, “Just the facts,” he wasn’t talking to an historian. It is well known that, for historians, most history is supposition and innuendo. They haven’t even decided if the Shroud of Turin is the Shroud of Turin. So you can imagine how hard other stuff is. Like who killed Kennedy, much less King Tut?

Or should I say, Queen Tut. For years, it was thought that she was an underage male. Just look how sickly he was. Recently Egyptologists invited a forensic detective in to do a complete autopsy on the mummified corpse. Lo and behold, they found that the boy pharaoh was really a pharaohess and she was five months pregs. They still haven’t determined who the father of the child was. There are a number of suspect, most named Rameses with a Seti or three thrown in for good luck.

One even believes it was Moses who done the deed. It is only gossip among those in the know. I am not here to spread rumors. I am simply stating that there are those. Who am I to challenge an expert? Guess the National Papyrus of the Two Lands had a field day with that one.

Another mystery has been recently solved. Why did Guinevere run off with Lancelot and screw things up in Camelot? I mean, from all the photographs we have of him, her husband, King Arthur, was a tall, handsome dude. Add to that, he had a magical sword. It was called Excalibur. It was not likely that he needed to take viagra. You can see that Gwen was more than likely a happy camper at Camelot, Arthur being Arthur, the manly man, he was.

And there is a pretty good case to be stated that he was a very virile dude too. Morgaine Le Fay may have had her complaints but it was not in the virility department. They had enjoyed each other’s company, tripping the olde light fantastic so to speak. No wonder the OED coined a phrase for what they did. Rumpus dilecti.

So if it wasn’t Arthur, what was it that pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall and broke Camelot into a thousand pieces? Recently two new bits of evidence have appeared to bring insight to the issue. A shepherd in the hills of France was looking for a sheep one day. He never found the sheep but he did find a cave. In the cave was a lost chapter of “Le Morte d’Arthur”. When they translated the chapter from its Latin text, an interesting tidbit came to light.

Seems Gwen often had a case of the boredoms. After all, what was there to do in the olden days of the Knights of the Round Table? There was no TV. No video games. No movies. No internet. There wasn’t even any books. And, if there had been, Gwen couldn’t read anyway. She never got passed the fourth grade. So, for fun, she had a two way glass installed in the knights’ showers. The knight’s side was a mirror. Gwen’s side was a window, so she could take a little peep-see when the fellas washed down after an especially sweaty tournament joust.

Arthur didn’t mind Gwen’s little diversion. It seemed to help her with her fortnight foreplay. So what the hey, he thought. Little did he know how much trouble that “what the hey” would get him into. The first time she saw Lancelot in the shower she went hog wild.

At first historians questioned the translation. Then archaeologists found old Lance’s corpse underneath a moat. It was confirmed that Lance had a very large…how shall I say it? Sword.

It’s nice to know that historians are on the case and after just the facts. For that, we can all be thankful.

If you have an itch, scratch it. If you see a dragon, watch out.

Sir Packs-a-whallup was an old school knight if there ever was one. None of that going off to a Crusade just for the sake of knocking a few heathen heads around like croquet balls. Any lord in a tin can could do that. A knight didn’t have to go all the way to the Holy Land to rape, pillage and loot. If he ran out of rpl’s in Merry Olde England, there was always France.

Unfortunately the Pope didn’t give out “Get out of Jail Free” cards for France or England. It was the Holy Land or Bust. Sir’s comment on the the Papal draft and staying home, “At least, you get warm weather in hell. This English weather just kills me.”

You see, many a knight had gone bust by going off half-cocked to Jerusalem. Besides they had to leave their ladyships behind for any Sir Tom, Sir Dick or Sir Harry to romance. It had gotten harder to get a decent chastity belt. Recently there had been a run-on on chastity belts. If that wasn’t enough, there were the recalls, so many that it made GM’s look like a Sunday outing.

On the way to an rpl one fine sprig of a spring day, Sir had an itch. It felt like it had been itching for days. And the itch was under his cuisse. That is, to say, his butt itched. Normally he would have ignored it, but this one was not your ordinary butt itch. It felt like a flea on his dog, Rover. The only way to get some relief was to get off his horse and let his squire shove a wire hanger down his armor and give his backside the scratch it deserved. Four days on a horse certainly qualified for a well-earned scratch.

“Whoa, Peckerwood,” Sir said to his stallion, a black fellow eighteen hands high.

The charger stopped so fast that Sir flew over the horse’s head and landed face down in the dirt. “Damn horse,” he muttered. Then to his squire, “Squire, get out the scratcher.”

Squire ran over to his boss with the wire hanger. Sir lifted himself onto all fours.

Five minutes later, his Sirness gave an audible sigh of relieve. His rear end gave a big toot. The itch had been scratched. Squire said to his lord and master, “Big Guy, me thinks you have the hemorrhoids.”

“That’s what I get for riding Peckerwood so much. What are we going to do about this?”

“Blame it on the horse,” Peckerwood protested to himself. “Always blame it on the horse.”

“Only one thing to do, Boss,” Squire recalled his medical training at the Ye Olde London College for Barbers and Physicians. “Get out the leaches and perform a hemrhoidalechtomy.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? The Pope to preach another crusade?”

Squire worked his work quickly. “Kemosabe,” he finally said. “Oops, wrong role. Big Guy, the tests are in. Your rear end has been bled. Your backside has been scratched. So it’s time we were off.”

Sir stood, feeling relieved. Then he said, “Thanks. You’re a regular Sancho Panza.” He got back into the horse’s saddle and started down the road. Squire followed on his donkey.

A little bit down the road, the two came to a town. The mayor met them at the gate.

“Thank all that’s holy,” Mayor said. “You got our message.”

“We did indeed,” Sir said from his saddle. “What message was that?”

“The message to come and protect our fair town from the dragon.”

“Oh, that message,” Sir said. “I keep getting my messages crossed. Here a message. There a message. Everywhere a messy-message. Which dragon is it that’s bothering you?”

“Saintjorge. He’s a mean one, he is. Worse than Mr. Grinch.”

“What are his demands?”

“He wants one of our virgins. He has given us till midnight three days from now.”

“And how many virgins do you have in this fair city?” Sir was thinking it wasn’t really a fair city. It looked like a dump. But what the hey. A knight can’t be choosey when it comes to an heroic act. Sir had to take what he could get. It been a fortnight since his last heroic act.

“We only have four, your Sirship,” Mayor gave the knight the census. “All my daughters. We would have more but the king came through last week. And you know how royal he is once he spots a virgin.” Even though the king was half blind in one eye and couldn’t see out the other, it was very easy to spot a virgin. The virgins all had virgin spots.

Sir then asked Mayor, “Here’s the $64,000 question. What are their names, these virgins?”

“Any, Mini, Miny and Moe. I know. I know. It’s not very original. We were thinking about calling them Ima, Ura, Shesa, and Hesa. But that wouldn’t work since my last name is Pigface.”

Sir popped down onto the ground. “Before I go off and bop the dragon a good one, I would like to inspect the virgins.” Sir always enjoyed this part of his job. The Virgin Inspection.

Sir took a look at the virgins and was pleased. Very pleased. And all four had the Virgin Spots.

He looked up at the sky. “It’s a good day for a dragon whopping. It’s a good day indeed.”

A little while later, actually about a half an hour sundial time, Sir returned to the town from the dragon’s cave. Smoke billowed around his armor.

“That’s some dragon,” he said.

Sir went over to a bucket of cold water and plopped his rear in it. The heat rose from the bucket. “I needed that.”

“Did you take care of him?” Mayor asked, hoping for the best.

What he got was this. “You think I’m crazy?” Sir asked. “That dragon is one big sucker.”

Then the smell from Sir’s armor hit Mayor squarely in the face.

“Peeewwwww,” both Squire and Mayor said. “What is that smell?”

“Dragon fart. And I thought I could blow one out. But this guy is holding back nothing. I got to his cave and he hit me with a big one right square in the face. A real doozy. I didn’t have a chance. I would have preferred being roast beef to that.”

Squire reached into his saddle bag. He pulled out a giant bottle of UnStinkum and sprayed his boss with it. Now he smelled like roses. So much so that everybody in the town started calling him Rosie the Riveter because of the riveting way he came up with solutions to any number of problems. Like the current one. How was he going to save the four virgins?

“So? Did you slay him?” Inquiring minds wanted to know. Especially one. Any, Mini, Miny and Moe’s dad, the mayor.

“Are you kidding?” Sir said, glad to be rid of the odor.

“What are we going to do then?” Squire stuck his two bits in.

“We need a plan,” Sir suggested. “And I think I have one. What would happen if there were no virgins in the town?”

“No virgins, no dragon. But we have four virgins.”

“Then we will just have to de-virginize the virgins. In a former life, I was known as Sir Viagra the De-Virginizer, and I am at your service. I have the perfect virgin spot remover.”

Sir was going to have to go the extra mile. The thing was that he had never taken on four at one time. He’d done three virgins before. That was how he had earned his spurs of knighthood. Four was going to take extra effort. But sacrifices had to be made. Besides it was an act of Christian charity. And one thing Sir was about was Christian charity.

An hour later Sir stepped out of the Mayor’s house and lit a cigarette. He was singing, “Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.” Then he said, “I’ve done it. They said it couldn’t be done but I done it.”

“The virgins?” Squire asked.

“Yep, they have all been de-spotted.” Then Sir turned to the mayor and said, “No need to thank me. Knowing that I have done a good deed is all the thanks I need.”

In the sky, they saw the dragon take off from the mountain, squealing his dragon squeal. He flew above the town and raised his rear and let one rip. Then he headed west where there was more opportunity, taking his grandpa’s advice, “Go west, young man.”

Sir Packs-a-whallup held his nose. Squire held his nose. Mayor held his nose. The smell was unbelievable. The wind blew in from the south and the dragon odor lingered over the kingdom for years.

Some say that it was that aroma that first started the Plague. I am not particularly qualified to argue a yea or a nay on that. Let’s just say. The kingdom went bankrupt from the loss of the tourist trade to the kingdom.

Well, folks, that’s tonight’s episode. If you happen to have a dragon show up on your doorstep, just contact Sir at 1-DEV-IRG-INIZ. He’ll return your call within twenty-four hours. Remember that you’ll get a 15% discount if you tell the operator where you read the show. Until next week, good night and good dragoning.

A War Widow’s Prayer

Inspired by “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

Lord.

I shot a Yankee today.  I know it ain’t right to kill a man. That’s what the Commandments say. I had no say in the matter. He come snooping around. Wanting to know where Peyton was. I didn’t dare tell him Peyton was off fighting Yankees down at the bridge.

Little Eli, he told the Blue Coat to git. The man was having none of that. He just laughed and laughed like he knew something we didn’t. He knocked my boy out of his way and come at me, looking like he had something dreadful on his mind.

I pulled that pistol Peyton done give me out of my apron. It was hard cocking that gun but I done it. I shot that Yankee in the face and killed him.

My oldest, Noah, was out plowing the field. He heard the shot and come running into the house and seed the dead man, lying on the floor. He rolled the Yankee’s body onto the rug I braided last winter, rolled that red rug up, and tied that rug around the body real tight. Then that boy, only thirteen, threw the bundle onto his shoulders. With that body of his, all tall and muscular like his granddaddy, he toted the bundle out to the back of the house. I stood there on the back porch and watched my boy bury that Yankee and cover the grave so there’s no trace.

He said to me that we got to speak some words over the man. Ain’t right to leave a man in his grave without some words, no matter how mean he was, or how much he’s out to do the bad things this Yankee had on his mind, So that was what we did. We stood over that grave and my boy said them words just like the preacher would’ve. Noah made me so proud, him taking charge and all.

About the time Noah got hisself cleaned up, this Yankee lieutenant come riding into our yard. He was real spit and polish sittin’ on the back of a mighty fine horse. He calls down to me, “Ma’am, we hung your husband. He’s on that wagon there. Where you want him?”

I never cried. I would not cry. I would not wring my hands. I would not grieve. I would not let that Blue Coat of a lieutenant see me weak like he was expecting. I give Mr. Spit-and-Polish directions to the little church down the way. Then me and the boys followed that wagon to the church. Preacher tried to comfort me, and I was comforted best I could be. It was best to get the burying over with, and that’s what we done. We sent Peyton on to You, Lord. I just want You to know that Peyton was a good man. The best man I ever knowed. And I’m wanting You to take good care of him, y’hear. I’ll be much obliged if You do.

There’s just me and my two boys left now. That Blue Coat lieutenant told us to gather our things and git. We couldn’t stay at the house. The Yankees aimed to burn the house and the barn down, and the crops too. He give us no choice but to hitch up our wagon with the mule. So we’re going now.

Oh, Lord, strengthen me for the road ahead in these dark times. Lead this husbandless woman with her two fatherless boys safely through the wilderness and to the promised land of my sister’s house.

I got to go for now. Night will be upon us soon. May light return on the morrow, and may Your grace light all our tomorrows.

Amen.