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Can I Gnaw on That?

Okay. So. On this trip to England, I realized that Charleston blue bloods have nothing on the English aristocracy. While at my current hosts, I was treated to shaking a hand that’s touched the Queen (not carnally – that I know of – lest readers’ minds veer in that unfortunate direction.)

Prior to his arrival, my hosts were all a-twitter, explaining that he’d lived in the local pile for years before abandoning it in favor of his son. They went further to say that it was one of the best examples they could cite of inbreeding run amok. Back peddling ensued, such that I was imaging a cross between Jesus Christ and the Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns, if such a conjuring is even possible.

Aristocrat arrived, with American wife and dog in tow. He was tall, thin and about 75 years old, with old fashioned coke bottle glasses, greased unnaturally colored hair and a complexion that advertised inside-ness. Of course, russet corduroys, striped shetland wool jumper and tweed abounded. He shambled up and sat down across from a totally unprepared and unwitting me, who was innocently cutting up peppers for salad.

With every utterance, he mumbled intelligible things, occasionally managing to make clear a “sheep’s intestines are fine eating” or “pigs really do squeal the most when they die.” I blandly cut up my peppers and tried to keep my expressions neutral.

Until he asked me “Can I gnaw on that?” Truly, I didn’t know whether he wanted to chomp on my leg after all the talk of butchering and killing animals, or whether he was referring to something else innocently sitting around my area. Who asks someone if they can gnaw on anything? Gnaw? On? That?

He rooted through the pile of vegetable refuse I’d created and tucked into a stray sliver of pepper with copious seeds attached. He continued to mumble about dead and dying animals as he spat seeds and saliva in my general direction, cleaning up every single shard of garbage in the process.

A hand that shakes the Queen’s also gnaws on garbage. Hmmmmmm.

Postscript to this post:

The English have reminded me that salad doesn’t have to be complicated. A fresh variety of lettuces plus a few just picked veggies and a small smattering of the lightest dressing can be yummy. Minus the scraps of garbage, of course.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am sitting here laughing. The picture you paint is glorious. It also reminds me that there is a fine line between being an eccentric and being a lunatic. Really depends on how much money you have.

    Thanks for making my morning!! πŸ™‚

    June 22, 2010
    • Stay tuned, Michael. That is the tamest story from my encounters with these people. It gets even funnier.

      Glad I made your morning.

      June 22, 2010
  2. Melissa #

    I’m not even sure what to say to that one…are we sure he shook the hand of the Queen of ENGLAND? There are many people claiming to be the queen, and I’m betting Mr. Gnaw might have met one of those… πŸ˜‰ Hilarious.

    June 22, 2010
    • No, he really does know the Queen of England. I only hope she doesn’t gnaw on refuse. πŸ™‚

      June 22, 2010
  3. oh my goodness!

    June 22, 2010
  4. First meetings in the South have similar interesting connections. My former husband is from very rural South Carolina. His family moved there just after fighting in the Revolution against England. They’ve been right there ever since. They are citizen aristocracy in this state due to their long term residence.

    My former mother-in-law upon first meeting declared, “My, your’re a Big ‘Un,” and I was quite a bit smaller than I am today. Of course I was astounded. However, later, when she received a phone call that someone had butchered a hog and was bringing the head over, I was really agog. Bring the head they did and she asked her son, my former husband, to “hold the head on the chopping block” so she could whack it with an ax, scoop out the brains and make souse. Well, I held that head and was sprayed with all manner of hog. Somehow, I think I’ll take that over an Aristocrat’s saliva.

    June 22, 2010
    • Maybe the two families were somehow related in the distant past? I really think my aristocrat would’ve treated us to some butchery if we’d lingered long enough. He was certainly a font of information about it.

      How long did you stay wed in that family? Did that ever happen again?

      June 22, 2010
  5. I was married into that family for 14 years. They were / are wonderful people. Just a bit of a throw back in time here and there. Once I figured out the cultural transitions, I could pick beans, can tomatoes, and do everything else in fine company.

    My only regret is that I could never convince that husband that we really did want to live on the beautiful family farm. Now that his mother has passed, he goes there frequently and realizes what a joy a few hundred acres of open land are.

    June 22, 2010

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