Select Tender Type or, Another Reason Literature Is Useful (Repost)

Below is a piece I originally posted, under a slightly different title, several years ago. I don’t know why the text looks as it does, but it will stay that way until tech support and I find a remedy. I hope you will read and enjoy anyway.

Ophelia, oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in
“Ophelia,” oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in (Photo credit: Wikipedia) John William Waterhouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
At HEB this afternoon, having verified that I had, indeed, spent my last sou on a cup of coffee at Waterloo Writers, I ran my credit card through the scanner. The resulting screen read, Select Tender Type.


Such a formal, old-fashioned word for this new-fangled device.

It reminded me of the scene in which Polonius asks Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet:

Polonius: What is between you? give me up the truth.

Ophelia: He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
Of his affection to me.

Polonius: Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

Ophelia: I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

Polonius: Marry, I’ll teach you: think yourself a baby;
That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;
Or–not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
Running it thus–you’ll tender me a fool.

Poor Ophelia. She was a sweet thing, and young, and the men in her life treated her so shabbily.

But even while Polonius belittles his daughter to her face, the way Shakespeare moves tender through the passage, varying its meaning from one line to the next, makes the language as briliant as its meaning is dark. Polonius, as Hamlet later implies, is a rat—and he pays for his treachery a couple of acts down the road—but he has such a way with words.

Thinking of Polonius and Ophelia reminded me of Lord Capulet‘s rage when Juliet tells him she will not marry Paris. He explodes, and Juliet adds fuel to the fire.

Capulet: How! will she none? doth she not give us thanks?
Is she not proud? doth she not count her blest,
Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought
So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?

Juliet or The Blue Necklace (1898) by John Wil...
Juliet or The Blue Necklace (1898) by John William Waterhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Juliet: Not proud, you have; but thankful, that you have:
Proud can I never be of what I hate;
But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.

Capulet: How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?
‘Proud,’ and ‘I thank you,’ and ‘I thank you not;’
And yet ‘not proud,’ mistress minion, you,
Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds,
But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next,
To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church,
Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!
You tallow-face!

“Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds, / But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next,…” Beautiful. Just seeing it on the page gives me the shivers.

To some, Capulet sounds like a terrible father, but, as I pointed out to my freshmen, year after year, Juliet starts it. She’s rude and disrespectful. Her father doesn’t know she’s already married; he thinks she would be thrilled to marry Paris. But she behaves like a brat. It’s no wonder Capulet threatens to drag her on a hurdle thither.

The two female characters present an interesting contrast: Ophelia refuses to speak for herself; Juliet shouts. But neither one lasts to the end of Act V.

A scholarly paper might lurk in there somewhere: “Shakespeare’s Women: A Study of the Consequences of Self-Actualization Within the Context of the Father-Daughter Relationship Complicated by Nascent Heterosexual Bonding, with a Focus on Hamlet’s Ophelia and Romeo and Juliet’s Juliet.”

Or perhaps not.

By the time I finished with the Capulets, the cashier had almost finished scanning. While she bagged the items, I had time to wonder whether the name of Jasper FForde‘s protagonist, Thursday Next, was inspired by the once-projected date for Juliet’s wedding.

I also remembered that The Idylls of the King contains a line echoing Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds; I believe it’s spoken by Guinevere–maybe–but I’ve not been able to locate it, and it looks as if I’ll have to re-read the entire Idylls to ease my mind.

But I did catch the next lines that drifted by: Guinevere, jealous of Elaine, takes up Lancelot’s gift of diamonds

“And thro’ the casement standing wide for heat
Flung them and down they flash’d, and smote the stream.
Then from the smitten surface flash’d, as it were
Diamonds to meet them, and they past away.”

That image—diamonds falling into the sunlit stream, and water splashing up, like diamonds to meet them—remains with me when the rest of the book has passed from memory.

Well. By this time, the cashier and I had completed our transaction. I wheeled the groceries to the car. End of shopping.

End of post.

Except to point out that I stood for ten minutes in one of the most boring places imaginable and forgot to be bored.

I was busy elsewhere.




Nyah nyah nyah.

Last week the manager of the neighborhood HEB told me the store no longer accepts checks written with pink ink. They would take mine this time, but in the future

What a shame. I’ve always thought my colored ink–especially the pink–added a certain flair to my checks. I imagined it made people in the back office happy to see pink ink. I believed my checks provided a bright moment in their dreary numerical lives.

I wheeled groceries to my car thinking of Amy, my first paralegal instructor, who said she signed everything in purple. I wondered whether the Bexar County District Clerk has since told her to stop it.

But I digress.

Act III of Shakespeare's Hamlet: King Claudius...
Act III of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: King Claudius and the theater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We now return to grocery store, where we are reminded that Shakespeare’s themes are indeed universal, and that perfectly nice people still suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and bear the Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely, the insolence of Office, and–especially–the Spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes. To wit:

Yesterday I wrote another check to HEB–in black ink this time–for $48.26; but on the second line I spelled out forty-six. I considered voiding the check and writing another, but instead struck through the six, wrote eight above it, and initialed the change. I also wrote my phone and drivers license numbers. Handing the check and my license to the cashier, I said, “I made a correction. Is that all right?”

The cashier looked at my check. She looked at my license. She looked at me. At the license. At me. At the check…and so on, back and forth. I wished she would stop.

Just when I was on the verge of offering to write another check, or, better yet, pulling out my credit card, she said, “You didn’t spell this right.”


“It needs an h.”

She pointed to the word eight.

“It’s spelled correctly,” I said. It had an h. Adding another would have made it eighth.

She looked at me, looked at the check. Examining the check, she appeared confused, but the looks she gave me were accusing. Frown. Narrowed eyes. You know the look I’m talking about.

Now I was on the verge of saying, I have known how to spell eight since I was seven years old, so there! But again I remained silent.

Finally she hit on a solution. She set the check on the counter, dotted the i, and went over the word, tapping each letter with the point of her pen. Then she said, “Okay,” ran the check through the little machine thingy, and handed me the receipt. I gathered my groceries and left.

It was fortunate our conversation ended there, because I’d been on the verge of saying, In fifth grade, I won the district University Interscholastic League spelling and plain writing contest with a perfect paper, which means I closed all my o‘s and a‘s and made the k‘s and l‘s taller than the t‘s and d’s, AND I dotted all the i’s. And I didn’t misspell eight.

Walking across the parking lot, I once more noted my unfortunate resemblance to Frasier. I didn’t go to Harvard, but I know how to spell eight, and I left the i undotted for aesthetic reasons. Nyah nyah nyah.