Quaeries #5: The Sensitivity Work-Shoppe

Justin E. H. Smith

Eulalia2Be quick, Isaac! We haven't much time. At Five of the Clock old Doctor Squibb will be dissecting a Porpess at Queen's Lane Caffè-House. That's right, Isaac. A Porpess. A Grampus in miniature. And he's promised to donate the Blubber of it to whomsoever agrees to assist him. That will be you, Isaac. You will have enough Sea-Tallow to keep your candle burning throughout the Winter, so you can scribble, whatsoever it is that you scribble, late into the Night. Are you ready, then, Scribbler?

Quaery the First: Whether any have read the Treatise of the learnèd German physician Theophilus Glaubnix, entitled Alimentatio per rectum, which, being English'd, offers instructions for the feeding of the sick and infirm through their very anus. You've heard right, Isaac. The aft shaft. The anneau d'enfer. And whether it be in truth a serviceable port of Entry for e'en the bravest of Suppers, as Chops and Ale, or only for flaccid Puddings, bland Peas, &c.

Whether, moreover, it be true what we have heard, that in some parts of America the common Men and Women oppose the chirurgical inducement of abortio at every stage of a Woman's graviditas, e'en before the moment of empsychosis (which is universally known to occur upon the fortieth Day after the Parents' copulatio) wherein a humane Soul be divinely transduc'd into what before was naught but an homunculus having the outward Conformation of a li'l Manny-kin, but sharing no-wise in Man's true nature. Whether they have ever seen an Homuncule aborted in the first or second Month that is capable of e'en the roughest Imitation of humane Action, as going about in Hats and Cloaks, or playing a simple round of Sice-Deuce.

Whether there be any justice to the interdiction placed upon Marriage between Cousins in some of the American colonies, in view of the great Probability resulting therefrom of Monstrous births. And whether the Book of the Learnèd American doctor Percival Gudgeon is correct to assert, that a marriage twixt a man and his cousin's cousin yields up what is called a half-wit; while a marriage twixt the same man and his father's brother's daughter yields a quarter-wit; twixt him and his father's sister's daughter, an eighth-wit; twixt him and his mother's brother's daughter, a sixteenth-wit; and, finally, twixt him and his mother's sister's daughter, a pitiable creature: a thirty-second-wit. Whether, finally, it is true that marriage to one's very own Sister yields up naught but a Nit-Wit.

Whether it be true what we have heard, that on the Western side of far Tierra del Fuoco, Men may now marry Men, and Maidens Maidens. And whether this be an effect of their Antarctick situation, which bringeth about sundry other curiosities, as the backwards rotation of the aquatickal Vortex that follows upon the chasse d'eau in every house-hold's Toilette, the Going of handsom'ly costum'd birds upon two Feet only, entirely destitute of Flight, and still other topsey-turvey absurdities.

Whether the Irish be spontaneously generated from the the moist Peat that covers their Isle, or whether they along with the other Keltish nations be translated from the Italick lands, which Hypothesis doth better explain their roughness of Aspect, their weakness for Popery, &c.

Whether also there be such a geographical Boundary as is sometimes call'd the 'Hair-Belt', dividing the Lands to the South and the East –wherein the Men, nay, and e'en the Women, are cover'd with thick Bristles upon Fore-Arm, Chest, and Chin– from the Lands to the North and the West, where these Parts remain smooth and Milky on all but the coarsest Peasants.

Whether the horrible Rumour we have heard hath some Truth in it, that in places of Industry and Commerce Men are now requir'd to take leave of the very Labour for which they are paid in order to participate in 'Work-Shoppes' that instruct them in all manner of effeminate Foolishness, as how to appreciate working together with men from different Nations (yea, e'en the Nations of the Hair-Belt!), how to respect the unique Skills of cretins and dullards, how to refrain from groping e'en the pinkest and most swollen Bosoms of their washerwomen and tailoresses, &c. O Isaac, how quickly these 'Work-Shoppes' must degenerate into Laughter and Ribaldry!

What's that, Isaac? You say that this our Scientific Society hath implemented mandatory sensitivity Work-Shoppes for all its Members, too? That I will be requir'd to attend such a one to-morrow, and that it will feature Lunch serv'd up in Brown Baggs, and optional Day-Care service for my Sons and Daughters? What need have they for Day-Care? They are home with their Mother and her Retinue of Wet-Nurses, suckling to their li'l Hearts' content like unto a litter of Piglets!

You can't be serious, Isaac. Me? Requir'd? Why, I am already reputed for my Sensitivity. Just ask Squibb: he saw me at the Dogg-Fights Tuesday last. I was seated next to some Savage Islander, whose face was blacken'd by terrible tatus, and whose Lipp was distended by a Disc the size of a serving Tray. Squibb saw me give him a hearty Slap upon the back when our Dogg triomph'd. I e'en took a swig from his Phlasque! Did I wipe off my Mouth in disgust? Did I not treat him as every bit my Brother?

What's that, then? You say there is no getting out of it? O all-right. 'Tis no Snow off my Duck. Anyhow I could use what the Spaniards call a siesta 'round Noon-time. Surely no one will take Note if I close my Eyes for a spell.

Dear God, Isaac, no. Do not tell me the Work-Shoppe is to be directed by Eulalia Tubbs. The Eulalia Tubbs? From Humane Resources? That Ogresse will be the Death of me!

What? You say she has written up a List of Counter-Quaeries, to which she seeks my Replies? And she wishes for me to present these Replies to-morrow? Look here, Isaac! Just look at these Counter-Quaeries:

Whether Doctor Smith hath done any Thing of late to foster Dignity and mutual Respect in the Work-Place by 'going out of his Way' to pay a Compliment, or to say some Thing encouraging, to his co-Workers.

Whether Doctor Smith hath ensured that his Work-Place be accessible to Women and Men of diminish'd Motility, as those who are capable not of Perambulation, but onely of Tollutation, Succussation, &c.

What are you snickering at, Isaac? Do you find Mirth in my Suffering? You common Bilge-Rat! You braying Onager! I'll make my Work-Place accessible, I will. Right after I put you in a wheel'd Chair for life!

But truely, Isaac. Do you know what I think? I think I shall have to present a Series of Counter-Counter-Quaeries to Miss Tubbs to-morrow.

Are you ready then, my loyal Pensman? Quaery the First…

To be continu'd…

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