In “B Is for Bowser,” I announced that I would write about a mistake I’d made. In Part 1, I said I would get to the heart of the matter the next day. Then things (Day C and Day D) happened. I didn’t get to it the next day or the next.
On Day E, however, my egregious error will be revealed.
I’ll recap (“B Is for Bowser”) as fast as I can:
There’s an old narrative poem entitled “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” about young Bessie, who saves her lover from a death sentence by climbing to the top of the bell tower and clinging to the bell’s clapper, preventing curfew from sounding when the rope is pulled.
Famous in its time, the poem is almost forgotten now. Its best-known modern use might be Katharine Hepburn’s recitation in the movie Desk Set.
Now to the Egregious Error:
Years ago, I ran across a parody of “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight”—”Bowser Must Not Bark Tonight.”
It tells the story of Bessie, a young woman who fears the family dog will chase away her boyfriend when he comes courting. Papa says the dog must guard the melon patch and therefore cannot be tied. To ensure that John Henry gets all the way to the front door, Bessie takes matters into her own capable hands.
I don’t know why I thought about the poem—maybe I was running through mental files for a B-word and came up with Bowser—but I love the parody and thought it a likely topic for a post, so, before looking for “Curfew,” I googled, Bowser must not bark tonight.
Bowser shall not bark tonight. Nothing. Bowser will not . . . Added poem and parody and other likely keywords. Nothing.
Or not exactly nothing. The very first hit, before all the methods of teaching a dog not to bark, was Exodus 11:7—”But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” (New International Version)
Talk about dreams shattered and balloons burst. Google, access point to the universe, was a big, fat liar. Second only to the knothead who failed to enter “Bowser” into the database.
Coming up: one spoiled B-post. “Curfew” alone was nothing. Without the parody, why bother?
A mistake, a mistake, a palpable mistake. But a reasonable one.
Had anyone been looking over my shoulder, I’d have blushed from shame. Because I was unobserved, I ate a Cadbury egg and determined to turn shame into a story.
Authorship of “Towser Shall Be Tied Tonight” is attributed to Anonymous, so, assuming it’s in the public domain, I include the entire poem. BloggerWilliam Lee says, “As far as I know the writer is still unknown and if still living probably wishes to remain ‘Anon.’ but I would have loved to meet him or her because it is the kind of poetry I like.” I’d love to meet the author, too.
Slow the Kansas sun was setting,
O’er the wheat field far away,
Streaking all the air with cobwebs
At the close of one hot day;
And the last rays kissed the forehead
Of a man and maiden fair,
He with whiskers short and frowsy,
She with red and glistening hair,
He with shut jaws stern and silent;
She with lips all cold and white,
Struggling to keep back the murmur,
“Towser shall be tied tonight.”
“Papa,” slowly spoke the daughter,
“I am almost seventeen,
And I have a real true lover,
Though he’s rather young and green;
But he has a horse and buggy
And a cow and thirty hens, – –
Boys that start out poor, dear Papa,
Make the best of honest men,
But if Towser sees and bites him,
Fills his eyes with misty light,
He will never come again, Pa;
Towser must be tied tonight.”
“Daughter,” firmly spoke the farmer,
(Every word pierced her young heart
Like a carving knife through chicken
As it hunts the tender parts) – –
“I’ve a patch of early melons,
Two of them are ripe today;
“Towser must be loose to watch them
Or they’ll all be stole away.
I have hoed them late and early
In dim morn and evening light;
Now they’re grown I must not lose them;
Towser’ll not be tied tonight.”
Then the old man ambled forward,
Opened wide the kennel door,
Towser bounded forth to meet him
As he oft had done before.
And the farmer stooped and loosed him
From the dog-chain short and stout;
To himself he softly chuckled,
“Bessie’s feller must look out.”
But the maiden at the window
Saw the cruel teeth show white;
To herself she fiercely whispered, – –
“Towser must be tied tonight.”
Then the maiden’s brow grew thoughtful
And her breath came short and quick,
Till she spied the family clothesline,
And she whispered, “That’s the trick.”
From the kitchen door she glided
With a plate of meat and bread;
Towser wagged his tail in greeting,
Knowing well he would be fed.
On his well worn leather collar,
Tied she then the clothesline tight,
All the time her white lips saying:
Towser shall be tied tonight.”
To the melon patch she took him
As he bounded at her side
To an apple tree she led him.
And the knot she firmly tied.
“There’s Pa’s melons, you must guard them
All day long you stay right here
When John Henry comes to see me
He’ll be safe and have no fear”
And her steps were light and happy
As she thought of joy so bright
When her lover would be coming
Towser would be tied tonight
Up the path the young man sauntered
With his eyes and cheeks aglow;
For he loved the red-haired maiden
And he meant to tell her so.
But her little brother, William
In a fit of boyish glee,
Had untied the slender clothesline,
From the harvest apple tree.
Then old Towser heard the footsteps,
Raised his bristles, fixed for fight, – –
“Bark away,” the maiden whispers;
“Towser, you are tied tonight.”
Then old Towser bounded forward,
Passed the open kitchen door;
Bessie screamed and quickly followed,
But John Henry’d gone before.
Down the path he sped most quickly,
For old Towser set the pace;
And the maiden close behind them
Showed them she was in the race.
There’s the clothesline, can she get it?
And her eyes grew big and bright;
Then she sprung and grasp it firmly;
“Towser must be tied tonight.”
Often times a little minute
Forms the destiny of men.
You can change the fate of nations
By the stroke of one small pen.
Towser made one last long effort,
Caught John Henry by the pants,
But John Henry kept on running
For he thought that his last chance.
But the maiden held on firmly,
And the rope was drawn up tight,
All the time her white lips saying
“Towser must be tied tonight”
Then the father heard the racket;
With long strides he soon is there,
Where John Henry and the maiden,
Crouching, for the worst prepare.
At his feet John tells his story,
Shows his clothing soiled and torn;
And his face so sad and pleading,
Yet so white and scared and worn,
Touched the old man’s heart with pity,
Filled his eyes with misty light.
“Take her, boy, and make her happy, – –
Towser shall be tied tonight.”
“Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight” sometimes appears as “Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight.”
The Blogging from A to Z Challenge master list appears here. It’s up to 510 blogs. Something for everyone.
Nov. 26: Ordered quilt online; multi-cat design; not quilt in picture, and not cat either
Nov. 27: Received email confirmation; processing time 5-7 days; everything handmade and impeccably “sawn”; hoped quilt would be more impeccable than proofreading
Dec. 1, 4, 7, and 8: Received emails re more quilts available for order
Dec. 10: Received email re quilt finished, ready to ship, tracking number to follow
Dec. 10: Received email re discounts on six other quilts
Dec. 11: Received email re same discount on same six quilts
Dec. 12 – Jan. 17: Received no emails at all
Jan. 17: Emailed company re Where is my quilt/Did I miss an email with tracking number?; very polite
Jan. 18: Received email re Quilt is ready and on the way.
Jan. 24: Received quilt
Jan. 25: Put queen quilt on queen bed; quilt barely covered top of queen mattress; I kid you not
Jan 25: Measured queen quilt
Jan. 25: Pulled up company website to check dimensions of ordered queen quilt; website down until all quilts ordered before Christmas have been shipped
Jan. 26 – present: Considering options:
Email company re Did I receive double or twin quilt in error? and if so, I’ll send quilt back in exchange for queen quilt
Email company re I will send quilt back and await refund (and hope refund arrives before end of 2019)
Email company re I will send quilt back in exchange for king quilt (since queen might not be large enough either) and will send more money as soon as I receive king quilt
Email company after website is back up and I know exact dimensions of queen quilt I ordered and have better idea of what more action to take
Email now re usual 30-day limit on returns
Email company re what I’m really thinking
Email re I’ll volunteer to help package and ship quilts ordered before Christmas (possibly necessitating a trip to China, where I suspect they’re made)
Rive my hair and wail like a banshee
Put quilt on dowel and hang on wall
It’s a silly quilt, cute in a kind of ugly way, but I finally decided I might as well adopt the title of Cat Lady and stick images of cats all over the house. And I thought Cat Gentleman would like cat quilt, since he adopted his title years ago. Quilt was supposed to be a Christmas present.
I ordered late and thus knew Santa Claus might not bring quilt on the First Day of Christmas, but I assumed the Magi would deliver it by Epiphany at the latest. Now I hope to get this thing straightened out before Pentecost.
Worst case scenario, the correct quilt will arrive in time for Advent. And I’ll give it to Cat Gentleman for Christmas.
The A to Z Blogging Challenge calendar looks like this:
But in my mind’s eye, until this evening, the calendar looked like this:
If I’d paid attention, I’d have noticed I was supposed to post yesterday, a Saturday, instead of taking the day off.
If I’d paid close attention, and counted, I’d have seen that my April calendar provides for only 22 letters, four fewer than the official calendar assigns spaces to, and also four fewer than are found in the alphabet. I was embarked on an A to V Challenge.
When I realized I’d gone wrong, I considered dropping out. After all, I’ve breached the rules, failed to post as required.
But it’s a glitch, not a transgression, and a blog challenge isn’t a life-and-death matter. So I proceed.
Two weeks ago, my radiation oncologist used the word remission.
Nothing has changed. My most recent CT scans show the same results as those done in December 2016, three months after I completed radiation treatments. The bone scan, my first, was also clear.
The oncologist, although he’s now smiling as if he means it, continues to be conservative. Stable is the word he uses. “As long as you’re stable…”
The radiation oncologist has always been more upbeat, possibly because she isn’t in charge of my case, possibly because she has a cheerful nature. A year ago, she was calling my scans awesome. I liked that word.
Remission, though, has a certain ring to it–a medical ring.
For two years, I’ve been living from scan to scan, and that won’t change either. The challenge continues: to live with past, present, future all at once; to wrap my mind around the contradiction–I have cancer, I had cancer, I . . . what?
The next CT is scheduled for early June. Scan to scan.
Read more posts dedicated to the letter G by clickingAtoZ.
During the Cold War, the colonel was commander of the Continental Air Defense Command (now NORAD). In case of an attack on the United States, he would have been the first to receive word.
Colonel Shoup was at his desk that day in 1955 when NORAD assumed the task of following the progress of Santa’s sleigh. But the new responsibility wasn’t ordered by President Eisenhower or any of the colonel’s military superiors.
The job resulted from a typographical error–one little mistake whose happy consequences are still being felt nearly sixty years later.
From the Storycorps website: “StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.”
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.
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.
Names are important. That’s an error I really didn’t want hanging around on the web for the rest of the millennium.
So many thanks to my friend for bringing it to my attention.
Said friend, whose name is Nita Lou Bryant, and I have been reading each other’s stuff, off and on, for six years now. We met in a workshop sponsored by the Writers’ League of Texas. Nita’s writing has won several awards, including the WLT Novel Manuscript Contest and the Mozelle Memoir Contest. Her work has also been published in the Austin American-Statesman.
Now Nita is exploring other aspects of her creativity at Sedbi Design Studio. Among her creations so far are scarves, camisoles, purses, pillows, wall hangings, Fabricollages, Fabricards, even a Fabrimandala. Her portfolio appears on video at her website.
But for a closer look—and for the adventures behind the art—visit her blog, Studio Nita Lou.