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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

December 20th, 2005 (08:51 am)
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I've been giving the matter a lot of thought, and I have come to this conclusion...

Dearest Mary,

...Oh, and before I close this letter, I must share - John sent me the sweetest Christmas gift! I just received it today. A single partridge, in - you'll never believe - a pear tree! Yes, he actually sent me a pear tree through the post! Well, not the standard post; he hired a special deliveryman to bring it to me posthaste, to ensure that I would receive it in time for Christmas. The fellow did demand a rather exorbitant tip - I suppose transporting a potted tree over thirty miles of rough roads was hardly the highlight of his Christmas season. He advised that I plant it in the garden immediately, and I did just that as soon as he had departed. It's a wonderful, thoughtful gift, Mary. To be sure, the partridge can be a bit disconcerting at odd moments; it has a habit of making a dreadful keeeeeeeeeee-rick-rick-rick-rick noise when upset or disturbed, and as it is new to the area and, I think, unused to the climate, it spends a great deal of time crying out like this. But I'm sure it will settle down soon, and the annoyance fades when I think of John, away from me for so long, sending me this most wonderful gift - a living tree, symbol of our love, growing and flourishing anew with each passing day. And a bird.

I mention this because I know you have never been overly fond of John, and in the past you have worried that I have overestimated his devotion to me. Such a sweet, thoughtful Christmas gift cannot but set your anxieties at ease, I think.

A very happy Christmas to you, dear!

Much love,
Sarah

***

Dearest Mary,

I know I wrote to you just yesterday but I simply had to share this - John has sent me another Christmas gift today! The sweetest man - I can hardly believe it. He's sent me two turtle doves, a male and a female, and wholly devoted to one another. Though, if I am being perfectly honest, I must admit that their cooing, sweet and lovely as I am sure it is, somehow gets to grating on my nerves after a few hours. It was perfectly adorable for the first several hours, naturally, but the constant gurgling and warbling does become wearing after a time. But I am sure I will become used to it very quickly, and what a perfect symbol of our love and devotion!

Strangely, he has sent me another partridge in a pear tree today as well. I don't quite understand the repetition, but though I questioned the deliveryman sternly - I am afraid there may have been some confusion that led to yesterday's present being sent twice in error - he claims he was merely following orders. Still, there is more than enough room in the garden for the extra tree, and I think yesterday's partridge is quite glad for the company. They have been circling in the air and calling to each other all day.

Love to you and your family,
Sarah

* * *

Dear Mary:

I am now truly confused. John has sent another Christmas gift today, and, bizarrely, he has repeated the gifts from the last two days exactly while sending three *more*. I hardly know what to think. Today's gift is three French hens, along with two more turtle doves and yet another partridge in another pear tree. I asked Mummy if she knew of any symbolism associated with French hens, but she was at a loss. She did point out, practically, that they will be very useful come laying season - "I shall send John a letter of thanks myself!" she said, with a laugh. But I cannot help but wonder why he would choose to send me three hens for Christmas. It seems so impersonal, somehow.

And they make such a racket. Mary, you cannot imagine the noise in the garden right now. The hens are of course in the chicken coop, but it is not far from the garden, as you will recall, and they are not happy in their captivity. The constant noise of them, beating their wings against the wire and crying to get out! And I haven't the first idea what to do with the others. The turtle doves are timid enough, and tend to take cover nervously in the branches of the large dogwood tree; but the partridges are more brazen, and as there are two males and one female at this point it seems that a rivalry is beginning to spring up. Of course it's all very sweet and amusing when looked at from a certain angle but - they *do* make such a noise. The males have been cawing at each other constantly and the female is prancing around, very puffed up over their affections. I have been trying to devise a way to keep each one in its own pear tree (my fingernails are encrusted with dirt from all the digging and planting I have done in the last few days!) but I have been unsuccessful thus far.

I'm sure that when John returns we will have a good laugh over all of this!

Your dearest,
Sarah

* * *

Dear Mary,

It's happened again, and now I spend all my time trying to repress my growing irritation with John. I love him of course and it's very sweet that he is thinking of me but -! Today he's sent me four birds, of indeterminate species (Mummy has never seen or heard of anything like them) but the noise they make! We have nicknamed them the calling birds because they never seem to do anything else. This on top of three *more* French hens, two more turtle doves, and, yes, another partridge in another pear tree. I have taken to writing, reading, and sleeping in the corner guest room on the far side of the house to try to be away from the noise, but it seems impossible. The calling birds cry and hoot and scream, the French hens beat their wings against their cage and cluck until I'm half mad, the doves twitter and gurgle and flap their wings nervously and the partridges, oh, I can't even bear to examine their behavior closely enough to understand what is happening there, but I am afraid an all-out bloody war is going to erupt shortly in our garden. And there is no more room for the pear trees and I am so very tired of digging and planting each day. How long can this go on? He must stop soon, mustn't he?

Yours,
Sarah

* * *

Dearest Mary,

All is well again, and I feel ashamed for ever having doubted John. Today he sent me five beautiful golden rings, one for each month of our love. How silly I must have been to forget that our five-month anniversary is just eleven days past! What a darling, loving, wonderful man he is to remember such things. I must confess I am rather relieved to know that these will be the last of his gifts. Mummy and I are still trying to find a way to manage all the birds he has sent - in addition to today's five rings, he has followed his previous pattern and sent a repeat of each of the previous days' gifts. Mummy is all for selling them, especially as their feed is becoming rather expensive indeed, but I couldn't sell gifts from my own true love! John has not responded to either of the two letters I have sent him about the matter but I'm sure there is a very good reason that he has sent all of the birds, and that when he responds, as he is sure to do very soon, he will be able to tell us how best to use them. He is so much wiser in the ways of the world than we poor rural women! In the meantime, I have put one golden ring on each finger, and Mummy says I simply moon the day away staring at them. But oh, they are so lovely!

Yours,
Sarah

* * *

Mary,

Six more birds. No. Sixteen more birds. And a pear tree. And five more golden rings. John has lost his mind, I think.

Six geese. Do you know the noise that geese make? The dreadful honking and braying? These are not birds, Mary, not mere common ordinary birds; they are creatures of the devil. Their excrement is all over the hen house. Did I mention they are *laying* geese? Geese, laying, in the middle of the winter. It seems impossible. The deliveryman said that they were sent from Australia, he thinks, and that is why...

Geese, Mary. Six geese. Eight calling birds. Nine hens. Eight turtle doves. And six partridges in six pear trees.

And ten golden rings, of course.

And do you know the funny thing, Mary? The uproarious, hilarious, splendidly amusing thing?

I hate birds.

Sarah

* * *

Dear Mary,

Please, Mary, if you love me, I beg you, send help. Living in the big city as you do you may know someone who requires several dozen birds, or could sell them, or - or - Mary, I don't know what to do! Seven swans today, and six more geese, and four more calling birds, and... oh, you know the routine by now! Swans he sent, Mary, full-grown swans, in a sort of artificial pool of water that required three wagons for transport. We turned the swans out into the pond near the back of the grounds and they seem to be getting along quite happily. And at least they can feed themselves on the reeds and grasses that grow there. But we can't feed the rest of these birds, Mary! I have been trying not to mention it because I did not like to let on that our financial status is not the best at the moment, but things were lean enough before an avian menagerie landed in our backyard! What are we to do?

And the noise. Oh, Mary, the noise. I shall go mad, I know it. Honking and clucking and squawking and over it all that keeeeeeeeee-rick-rick-rick-rick-rick-rick-rick-rick-rick-rick drilling into my skull. I shall never eat quail again without that I shall stab my fork into it with furious vigor, stab stab stabbing the beast for the long days and sleepless nights I have endured since the first day of these awful Christmas gifts...

I have just had a horrible thought, Mary. You don't suppose that John could be sending me these gifts in honor of the twelve days of Christmas, do you? That he will send me five MORE days of horrendous birds, eight new birds tomorrow and nine new birds the next day and ten...?!

No. I won't think it. Perhaps he has sent seven days of gifts for the seven days of the week. To celebrate the week after the week of our five-month anniversary.

It is possible.

Sarah

* * *

Mary,

John has not sent birds today. He has sent cows. Eight cows and with each cow a milkmaid.

The cows may prove useful. The milk is sorely needed and Mother has already sent word to the nearest neighbors asking if the husband might come by soon to slaughter at least one of the cows. We offered ten hens for this one service, an exchange so clearly in their favor that he cannot but come, I think. What they do not understand is that we would gladly send him away with no help with the slaughter whatsoever, if he would consent to take the damned hens with him.

The partridges have ripped the garden to shreds in their frenzied rivalry. We shall have to buy all our vegetables at market for the rest of the year. I spent half of yesterday chasing one of the partridges around the grounds with an axe but they are faster than I and my efforts came to naught. The doves are terrified and hide in their trees all day long. The geese and the hens, I think - I pray - are busy killing each other in the henhouse. The noise and stench are dreadful and I have not ventured within fifty yards of them all day. But I can hear them. I can smell them. If I close my eyes I can see them.

Meanwhile, the cows may be a blessing but what are we do to with the milkmaids? They are expecting a place to sleep, of course, and we have none. As I write Mother is dragging all the rugs in the house into the parlor for bedding, and pulling all the curtains from the windows for blankets. She thinks they may all fit on the floor there. I suspect not, but I will not say so to her.

There is no more room for the pear trees and we tried to roll yesterday's tree down the hill into the pond. I had hoped it might kill a swan or two on the way down, but it lodged stubbornly halfway down.

If only I had a gun I would do away with these beasts soon enough.

Sarah

* * *

Mary.

Pipers today.

Pipers.

They toot and they tweedle and they trill and they whistle and they pipe all day long. We cannot stop them. Either they are mentally deficient or they have been paid a great deal of money to drive us out of our minds.

Piping. Pipers piping.

Nine pipers piping. Sixteen cows with sixteen milkmaids. Twenty-one swans all jostling for room in the pond. Twenty-four geese honking away. Twenty-four hooting screeching cackling calling birds. Twenty-one French hens. Fourteen turtle doves. And nine partridges in nine pear trees.

And, of course. Twenty-five golden rings.

John! My love! Isn't it romantic, oh, isn't it romantic, isn't it just so romantic, the pipers will drive me insane

Sarah

* * *

Mary,

Drummers! Of course! The pipers need drummers! The drummers need pipers! Twenty-eight men and sixteen women have flooded our house and there is no place for them to stay! Does John think we live in a bloody palace? Ha ha ha, let them sleep in the henhouse with the honking geese and the cackling hens! That'll teach them to drum and pipe on our property! Drumming and piping and drumming and piping and they will drum and pipe their way into Hell presently. Drum, drummers, drum! Pipe, pipers, pipe!

The neighbors not having come to help us slaughter the cows I went to try to hack one apart with the axe yesterday but was besieged by intense remorse. They are the only quiet animals on the place. And the milkmaids would not let me anyway. Milking away, milking away, there must be cows for milkmaids to milk or milkmaids will be mere maids and maids of all work have no work here! So they must milk. I chased some more birds with my axe but they fly away and taunt me from the branches of the Godforsaken pear trees.

I write this as I lie huddled under the bed with pen and paper and thirty golden rings. I have put them all on at once and such a clicking clacking noise they make as I rub my hands together. Click clack, click clack, keeeee rick keeeeeeee rickrickrickrickrickrickrick

Your clickety-clackety click clack click
Sarah

* * *

Dear Mary.

Today's gift consists of eleven ladies plus all the rest. They are dressed in full ballroom attire and they will not stop dancing but we shall put a stop to that soon as you will see! After yesterday's debacle which concluded with my shutting myself whimpering in the smallest kitchen cupboard with my fingers in my ears, Mother and I sat down and had a long talk and we have decided to take these people firmly in hand. The ladies will cease dancing. The drummers will cease drumming. The pipers will cease piping. The number of maids milking will be reduced from twenty-four to the original eight, and even those eight will not need to milk all day as they have been doing. All the rest will devote all their energy to putting an end to this dreadful situation. The pipers will wrestle the geese out of the henhouse and chase them on their way. Some of the ladies will clean out the henhouse, which is entirely encrusted with goose droppings. The rest of the ladies will repair the garden. Several of the drummers will go to town to get us a gun with which we will kill these blasted partridges, as well as purchasing other essential supplies. Several more will chop up all but one of the pear trees for firewood. The maids will tend to the animals that we do not intend to shoot. And the rest of the drummers will fix up the old stable on the back grounds to be suitable for human habitation.

To be sure, the ladies will not stop dancing. Waltzing, waltzing, waltzing, out in the hills out back.

Well, we shall just have to *make* them stop.

We have melted down all the golden rings to sell for food.

Yours,
Sarah

* * *

Mary,

It is all over.

I write to you a broken woman.

The pipers will *not* stop piping and the drummers will *not* stop drumming. The ladies will not stop dancing, and they are aided by today's gift, which is twelve lords. Twelve leaping lords. Twelve... leaping... lords. I do not know what is wrong with them. They will not stop leaping. Leaping about, leaping here, leaping there, legs splayed, arms flung wide, leaping in our backyard. Each lady has chosen a lord to be her mate and they are expecting us to plan weddings for all of them. They say that as they were gifts to us we are responsible for these matters. I'll plan them a wedding all right. I'll take them all to the pond and throw them in and let the swans take care of them. They shall have underwater weddings, all of them.

The partridges have ravaged the garden and the hens have mostly pecked each other to death. The milk maids are demanding fair wages which of course we cannot pay as we cannot even feed these people. We could slaughter the cows if any of the gifts would stop piping or drumming or leaping or dancing long enough to do it but they won't and I cannot. Mummy has taken to her bed. We fear neuralgia.

There is nothing left for me here, Mary. Though there are twelve lords and twenty-two ladies and thus every lord is the subject of great fighting and rivalry, one of the lords has fallen in love with me and has been very persistent in asking for my hand. I shall give it to him, Mary, so long as he consents to take me away from this rotten, bird-befouled hellhole. He will not stop leaping, but I can learn to live with one leaping husband. He... leaps. All men have their flaws.

So long as he never, ever sends me a Christmas gift for the rest of my life, I shall be able to survive with him.

Goodbye, Mary, love. The next time I write you I shall be Mrs. Leapinglord.

I never did learn his name.

Yours,
Sarah

P.S. If ever you see John again - I shall not, I am sure - please thank him for all the lovely Christmas gifts he has sent.

Comments

Posted by: Heidi (sioneva)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC)

I'd be laughing hysterically if I didn't worry that my workmates would think I'd gone mad too...that is *priceless*

Posted by: Obsessively opposed to the typical since 1987 (baroque_n_roll)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:05 pm (UTC)

That is the definition of awesome.

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:15 pm (UTC)

This is the funniest thing in the whole world. I've been laughing until my cubicle-mate asked what was so funny (and now *he's* chortling madly over there). Did you write it? If so, I think I'll just prostrate myself at your feet for a while.

And I'll never hear that song again without giggling.

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)

(oh, God, the leaping.... I'm literally choking on my cocoa every time I think about this.)

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC)

I did write it, yes. :) T'anks!

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC)

I think your funny was saving itself up for this. Because I'm going to die if I read it again.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)

::laughs a lot::

I must confess it was tremendous fun to write. :)

Posted by: Geryon (tigermilkdrunk)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)

On the one hand, that's damn funny.
On the other, I'm never going to believe your claims about being busy at work again.
On the third, where do they live that they still had produce in their garden in December?
On the fourth, still damn funny.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC)

I actually wrote it at home and posted it in the morning, because most of my flist are covert-flist-readers-at-work types.

I guess I was thinking that the partridges ripped up the... seeds. Or something. Uh.

But thanks! :)

Posted by: Geryon (tigermilkdrunk)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 03:49 pm (UTC)

Youghta (Yotta? Youghtta? Yatta?) send it to something like McSweeney's.
So, if you're working on seasonal imponderables, where does Mr. Tumnus get his packages from? (The ones he drops in the snow.)

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)

I like youghtta, personally. Also, I don't know about McSweeney's (though thanks very very much for the compliment!!), but I had considered submitting it somewhere else, only to realize that, crap, Christmas is in five days and no one will care after that. I s'pose you could make a case that it's relevant until January 6th, but that's about it. Until next year, I guess.

And I never thought about where Tumnus' packages were from. You never do hear about stores in Narnia, do you? Except for the Calormene markets, and I don't think he was trekking all the way from there. Huh. Spy contraband?

Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC)

I've seen this before, but it's still very funny.

Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)

I tell a lie, I think this or some version of it was the one I saw.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:28 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I, uh, wrote it, so you haven't seen it before.

I hadn't seen that other link, but I've wondered about this song since childhood. And though I've heard it made fun of before, no one else seems interpret the gifts as cumulative, but I don't know how else to interpret it. Every day she says he got her a new thing and all the old things! So confused.

Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC)

There's one out there somewhere that's more similar to yours than the one I found, that involves him giving each thing every day. Someone sent it to me about ten years ago, but it seems to have disappeared into the ether.

Still, very funny stuff. :)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC)

Absolutely. If anything, two people thinking of the same funny means you're on the right track! :)

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:32 pm (UTC)

Teh Funneh is back! Oh, lord!

I totally thought to myself, "OK, she has nothing to do at work," before reading the above comment. Still. Funny!

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
Max

*crash* goes the glass house.... ;)

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC)
calculon

"Hey, look! My neighbor's glass house just fell down as well!" :)

Posted by: Gilathief (gilathief)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:37 pm (UTC)

So funny in a weird Jane Austen kind of way. Must. Pimp.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC)

LOL That's so funny that you say that, because I couldn't figure out *who* was channeling. I wanted to say Jane Austen but as I haven't read her in years I figured I was making that up. I'm glad it gave someone else that vibe. :)

Posted by: Gilathief (gilathief)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)

well, at first I was getting a Virginia Woolf vibe... but that faded after like five seconds...

Posted by: Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC)
funny ha ha

I...

I...

You know what? This is so good that I'm not even going to say anything.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC)

Thank you! I must confess in turn that I burst out laughing at my desk at

Reminded boyfriend that song was originally metaphor for rituals of Catholicism and not meant to be taken literally.

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC)

The people at Snopes appear to disagree with that interpretation.

Posted by: Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
hmph

The people at Snopes can stay the fuck away from my jokes.

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC)

They are rather humorless, I'll give them that.

(I went to church this sunday and they were talking about that interpretation of the song, hence my handy possession of the link)

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)

Actually, Barbara's *hilarious.* She's got this marvelously dry sense of humor. There're peeks of it in Snopes, even (see her final taglines).

(She's a regular on a couple of my newsgroups.)

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)

Wow, you know her? That's pretty cool.

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)

Well, not personally, exactly - believe it or not, I'm a permanent lurker everywhere except LJ. But yeah, I've read just about every post by her for the last 10 years or so, which is still pretty neat. :)

(When I figured out the woman who was behind Snopes and "my" Barbara Mikkelson were the same woman, it really was like discovering I'd known a celebrity before they became famous!)

Posted by: DK (dk_valentine)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
unicorn

OMG THIS IS SO HILARIOUS.

Do you mind if I post a link to this in my LJ?

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC)

I don't mind at all. Thanks! :)

Posted by: paranoid kitten (paranoidkitten)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC)

*snickers*

Posted by: Electric Landlady (electricland)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
10th Doctor teeth

Brilliant! I love it!

This book doesn't have the repeats, but is also very funny.

Posted by: Word Herder (word_herder)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)

Followed gilathief's link...

Oh my gosh. This is HILARIOUS.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)

Thanks! I like your username.

Posted by: Tonia Barone (toniabarone)
Posted at: December 20th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
John--Cutie

*ROTFLMAO*

Posted by: I'm forever less and more (wonderbink)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC)
bluenick

I saw this on metaquotes and thought it was brilliant. Bravo.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 23rd, 2005 12:50 am (UTC)

Thanks! Wow, I didn't even know it had been metaquoted until you said that!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 23rd, 2005 01:24 am (UTC)

Eeples! ::hugs of gigantitude::

I love you anyway quite independently of compliments you pay me, but this made me all blushy and overwhelmed. :_

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: December 23rd, 2005 01:24 am (UTC)

Um, :)

Posted by: Vonspreezen (vonspreezen)
Posted at: October 8th, 2006 12:44 pm (UTC)
12 Days of Christmas

Were the postmark seals from Marzipan or El Arco? And were any of the missives doodled while bored during some ceremony at Raspberry Surprise Holiday Cathedral? Were any of the cows the ones that stopped traffic at Chiquita Banana Square?

Vonspreezenburger

http://reallykindasortatotallystupid.blogspot.com/

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