Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Thag’s Theory of Relativity: Entertainment Value Increases with Entropy

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Dear Aunt Beatrice,

Thank you for the Barbie doll. How did you know I never had one?

To be honest, that’s not a fair question. I’m not sure how I can expect you to know what I already possess and know whether a Barbie doll is an appropriate gift to give a man for his thirty-fifth birthday. That is indeed a hefty chunk of information of which to keep track, and I know you have your hands full already, what with the sixty or so cats with whom you generously share your living quarters. Goodness knows that also knowing what might be a suitable gift for a person in my demographic group lies beyond your everyday experience, and probably has for a long time.

I do not wish to be remiss in noting the care with which you obviously selected the wrapping paper, and the liberal use of Scotch tape in ensuring that it stayed in place. The colors are certainly vivid, and the Santa Claus motif playful. This being June, I certainly did not expect any such thing, not least because we are Jewish. It was nothing if not original.

The same level of attention and care obviously went into selecting the card. It is indeed very sweet of you to wish me, in honor of my birthday, congratulations on my marriage; how many people are lucky enough, ten years after their wedding, to keep receiving the cheer usually directed only at newlyweds? This is especially surprising in light of the fact that of those ten years, I have been divorced for the last eight. It is so kind of you to remind me of all the feelings associated with my marriage, feelings I thought had faded.

Now, some gift givers, especially the pretentious ones, insist on using their own stationery and inscribing their good wishes to the recipient in their own hand and words. I note that you dispensed with all that in favor of commendable practicality, and selected a card with the greeting already printed in it. This has been your practice, as I recall, for many years, and it is most considerate, I think, that you thus share in providing a living for writers whose job it is to come up with those greetings. You might not know, in fact, that those writers especially need the income, as they lack any marketable skills. I had not known you were so socially conscious. This certainly belies the image of someone who prefers the company of felines to that of humans.

But I think the most striking aspect of the card, and the gift as a whole, was that you addressed it to someone named Harold. I have consulted our extensive genealogy just to be sure, but I’m certain there is no one in our family named Harold. I must admit this mode of address caused me some confusion at first, but then I recalled the level of your social awareness. I reasoned that you must have a didactic purpose in mind, perhaps that our society places far too much emphasis on the self, and that I should be thinking of others in my time of joy.

I shall take that lesson to heart, Aunt Beatrice: I have already donated the Barbie doll to an animal shelter, where the residents can play with it to their hearts’ content. It will serve a more constructive purpose there, after all, than even its manufacturer intended.

So thank, you, Aunt Beatrice. I hope we have many more occasions to celebrate.

Yours truly,



Written by Thag

February 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm

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