September 21, 2023

Strangest Ear Rings

Dear Sister,

We had a few nice middle-aged ladies round t’other evening for absolutely no reason at all, which I am sure is the very best way for a party to get going, nine of them, and I saw, with a certain amount of pleasure, that they were all wearing earrings. I identified emeralds, rubies, zircon, one imitation diamond, and two ladies with sapphires, which is a stone I hate to write about because of that stupid and unpronounceable extra “p” stuck in there for no sensible reason whatsoever.

But I was pleased to see one Tanzanite among them, a new, still not much-heard-of stone, bluish-brown in color, that comes indeed from Tanzania, a forgotten country where I once spent a number of years, in what is often known as “darkest Africa”–actually a great place to be, and the shore of the greatest swimming-ocean the world has ever seen, provided you don’t worry too much about sharks. Actually, it’s not to hard to keep these nuisances at bay if you’re good with your fists. These damn creatures can be twenty foot in length or more, and they like to wallop you with their tails rather than put a more vulnerable snout in danger. So, all you have to do is keep your cool and make sure they understand who’s the boss around here. And this has nothing whatsoever to do with earrings, right? Which is what this letter is supposed to be about, sort-of.

Because the idea itself of earrings is great–it can take you all the way back via the Book of Genesis to that Josephus kid who wore one of carved stone that was so heavy that a child could not lift it, and earrings dangling down to the waist over there became a fashion statement of some sort; just as, in a different form (thank de Lawd) it is to this day as ever was.

And moving on in time from over there, we find that in Africa, among the Bantu tribes, weights are used again to pull out the flesh so that it can be wound around all over into weird and wonderful shapes, all the guys of the village doing their best to out-display that fellow in the next block, and I think that’s a marvelous idea, though it does lead–ready for this?–to a lot of murders. If one man believes that his next-door neighbor has a more interesting pattern in what were once his ears, that neighbor’s ass is up for grabs, and he can wake up one morning to find a damn great dudgeon sticking out of his tummy, not a nice state of body to be in at all.

And in New Zealand–a long way from civilization–the true natives actually decorate their ears with the bones of the enemies that they have killed, and I think that’s kind of cool, don’t you?

But back to the Book of Genesis with Jacob, we find that his much-admired earrings, talismans that were even worshiped for themselves, were actually buried with him, in Bethel. They really were nuts, those people.

But today, right here in The Boss’s Colony, there’s a new and very strange ear-application altogether. It’s mostly what looks like a kind of flesh, almost, except that they tell me it is actually metal which encases a ghastly array of out-of-this-world technicalities, it’s called a cell-phone, and you wear it just like an extra ear! And you can actually talk into it, to people who are miles away, and listen to what they have to tell you. The supermarkets are full of them, guys wandering around looking for stuff and calling home to find out if the prices is right.

I figure, rather reluctantly, that this must be a momentous convenience in all kinds of ways to all kinds of people, but I can’t help thinking of the days when the telephone was screwed onto the wall there, you put your finger in the shiny little holes and spun, and eventually got the number you wanted.

But maybe I’ll go buy one of these comic artifacts and send it to Billy, just to give him a bad time figuring it all out.

Much love to poor old Blighty from the Colony, as always.



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