To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, little girl.

...Twenty-three years old today.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

...And one more thing, while I'm sitting here with my back hurting.

I thought about this again yesterday when I hobbled to the store (they were having a sale) to buy some jeans and what not.

A thing you see on the internet is men expressing distress when a woman asks if an outfit makes her butt look big. What's he supposed to say? they ask. What's she asking? They don't get it. Or they indicate that they snarkily answer, "No, your big butt makes your butt look big."

I see this a lot, although it seems immediately obvious to me what she's asking and why, and how the man ought to answer.

But I'll spell it out here so I can refer to it in future.

Anyone surely knows that a woman who is busty can have a very different appearance depending on what she wears. Imagine such a woman wearing a simply tailored, nicely fitting navy jacket with a deep v-neck and a white top underneath. Maybe there's some detail around the bottom of the jacket. Contrast this outfit with a bright international orange top, tightly fitting, with frilly crap around the low-cut neckline, and showing a lot of cleavage. Same woman, same body, but the second outfit will draw the eye to her bosom and give you the impression that she has a lot of it, in a way that the first does not. Right?

Well, this is the kind of thing we women can see for ourselves when we look in the mirror. But it's hard to twist around and look at the back of yourself unless you have front-and-back mirrors like a dressing room does.

So what she's asking is - does this outfit draw attention to my butt and make it look prominent unnecessarily or in a way that the other things I wear do not? All you have to do is look at it and apply a little analysis. If the pants or skirt is neither pulled tight nor bunchy, the waist is not visibly dragged down, and the color, cut and style don't draw the eye to that spot, then the correct and truthful answer is no, the outfit does not make her butt look big. If these things are not the case, then you should say so: you can either explain that, for instance, the pleats look roomier than they have to (don't compare her to a circus clown, it's hurtful and not value-added communication) or just say that it does not appear as flattering as some of her other outfits, the blue pants or whatever. It's a straightforward question, and should get a straightforward answer.

Of course, if she responds huffily to anything other than a flattering response, you should tell her not to ask questions if she doesn't want an answer.
Staying close to home today. I hurt my back AGAIN. This time, sweeping the kitchen floor. I am going to have to do something about this, because it's getting ridiculous. Thank goodness for my leftover Soma from two years ago.

So I'll follow up to my post about women looking ticked, to talk about what to do when you feel angry.

And it's important to think about this. Some people, because of either the culture they were raised in or their own characters, have trouble confronting others when they're mad. Perhaps they ascribe to other people the feelings they would have if called out about X, when actually the other person wouldn't give a damn. Or they elevate the importance of the other person's feelings being hurt over the importance of their own internal serenity. That's bad because (a) you internalize this stuff and it can make you resentful and even sick, and poison the relationship, and (b) it's tempting to wait until you are mad enough to let your anger deal with the situation for you, which is uncontrolled and frequently destructive to the relationship. We will pause for a word from William Blake:

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.

- Blake, "A Poison Tree"

I think we can all relate to this.

So here are my suggestions for when you find yourself angry at someone.

First, someone you don't know and with whom you will have only limited dealings. My daughter called me from school one day, crying in anger because the man at the post office had been unbelievably rude to her. She told me exactly what she'd said, and what he'd said, and it was unmistakable, unnecessary, and shocking. What I said to her:

1 - Happy people don't act that way. He must be a miserable person.
2 - You were exposed to him for five minutes. He has to live with his misery 24/7.
3 - Would you want to trade places with him, and be the one who is miserable enough to act that way, rather than being on the receiving end able to walk away afterward? No?
4 - Then can you feel sorry for him, that he's such a wretch? And feeling sorry for him, can you forgive him? Say a little prayer for him, and put it aside?

Her angry sobbing quieted. I think it helped.

(Amazing how a short but sincere prayer for that provoking person can help one's feelings. This has caused me to formulate a tentative definition for "forgiveness". It's when you no longer accuse that person before God. He may have to answer for what he did - thinking of really egregious things like concentration camp guards here - but God can be trusted to meter out justice without you continuing to point the finger. It can be a liberating thing. And it does not preclude seeking earthly justice. I read somewhere about a prosecutor who was a devout Christian. When perps would say to her, "I found Jesus!" she would say, "Congratulations, you're going to heaven! But first, you're going to jail.")

Second, someone with whom you will continue to have more or less intimate dealings. This could be a coworker, spouse, family member, or close friend.

Start with questions for yourself.

1 - Is this misplaced anger? Maybe you're only slightly irritated at the person in front of you but you're really angry at your boss, you can't address that as you'd like b/c you need your job, so you lash out at a safe person - your spouse, child, etc. Or you're frustrated at your life conditions right now, underemployment, health problems, and so on, and you can't fix that but you can holler at a person. This is not fair and not productive, and is a relationship destroyer.

2 - Could you be hungry, tired, getting sick, or premenstrual? We women dislike being asked if we have PMS when we get angry. The assumption is that we're being accused of irrationality. But it's a valid question, and one that we should be OK with asking ourselves. Solve those peripheral issues, or wait a couple of days if it could be PMS*, and if you're still angry, then it's time to take the next step.

3 - Exactly what is bothering me? And exactly what outcome do I want? This second question is one of the most important because throughout your confrontation, if you have one, you have to keep that in front of you to stay on track. You don't want to use the confrontation to hurt the other person's feelings - to assert your dominance - to bring up unrelated and unresolved crap; you want to solve the problem, period. So if the problem is that your spouse doesn't do as he promised and wash the dishes when you have cooked, the outcome should be not that your spouse understands how he is immature and lazy, and never does what he says, and you are doing more than your share of the housework all the time, etc., but that the dishes get washed without making you ask and nag. Period, full stop. This is bolstered if you address issues as they come up rather than letting them pile up until you're good and steamed.

4 - Be sure that there's not some reason you haven't thought of, why the person is doing whatever ticked you off. Suppose your kid told you a couple of times that he's out of notebook paper. Before you tear into him for not doing his homework, it should probably occur to you that he can't do it without notebook paper, he told you he needed it, and he doesn't have a driver license and can't go to the store and get it for himself. You can avoid not only confrontations, but looking like an idiot, this way.**

If you do have a confrontation, after you've assured yourself that you have a legit issue and are not tired, etc., and the other person doesn't have an obvious reason to be unreceptive, be effective, brief, and fair.

1 - Ask yourself: How can I get what I want? I mentioned before about the DISC personality test. "I" stands for "influencing" and it means using your charm and personality to get people to do what you want. I score rock-bottom on that one. The person who facilitated that test the first time I took it was kind enough to tell me that my score was due to my desire to deal with people from a position of sincerity, and the things that would have caused me to score higher, I would have viewed as manipulative. That's cool, but it means I have to make a conscious effort to think about dealing with people to get what I want from them. And you can read a lot of this stuff in just about any women's magazine: Don't jump on somebody when he's just walked in the door. Don't buttonhole him when he's hungry, tired, or doesn't feel well. Couch what you say in positive terms as much as possible: "I appreciate you taking the trash to the street. We probably need to make a point of taking out the kitchen trash when you do that, to keep it from getting smelly." As opposed to "How come you didn't take the kitchen garbage out?" This may be intended as an entirely neutral and fact-seeking question, but it comes across as an accusation.

2 - State exactly what the issue is, and don't overstate the effect on you. If something is mildly irritating, it isn't driving you crazy.

3 - Preserve the relationship, and the other person's feelings, by not deviating from rules of polite conversation. If you want the other person to have tender feelings for you, you have to protect that by not forcing him to develop defenses because you verbally hurt him. This means not attacking his character or his upbringing, but only the specific behavior that bothers you; and not bringing up other things to try to show a pattern of failure. This also means not taking opportunities to ambush innocent things he says by using that as a jumping-off place to air your grievances.

4 - Remaining polite and sticking to the point has the added benefit - a very important one - of not giving the other person anything to respond to except the thing you want him to respond to. If you assert that he doesn't wash the dishes because his mother spoiled him, he can now react to the fact that you attacked his mother. You've left the path.

5 - Be brief. The longer these things go, the greater the chance that things will be said that shouldn't be.

Understand that some issues will not be resolved. You may think your spouse should do X, he doesn't think so, and either X won't happen, or it will and he may resent having to do it. Hopefully he will not do X but make you pay for it in other ways, or if he simply won't do X, the end, you will not continue to punish him for that. Either it can be tolerated, or it's a dealbreaker; there should be no middle ground. Do, however, give people a chance to mature, if you are going to stick it out. If your spouse used to do something that angered you, but he has thought better and doesn't do it anymore, then let it go and move on with him.

Finally, mature people understand that they can't and they shouldn't get their way all the time. If you can't see yourself ever saying "you're right" and backing off your position, then you should not be in a relationship.

*Going back to what I said before about PMS pheromones affecting men: It's entirely possible that someone will irritate you, you'll realize that you are premenstrual, and you will decide to wait until you are not and he does it again, to decide then whether and how to act on it; only to realize that you go through this over and over because he only does it when you are premenstrual. I have had this happen. What you have to do then is gird your loins, exercise superhuman self-control so that your PMS doesn't harsh your cool, and then calmly address the issue. And then go have that rum-and-coke.

** To further this thought: Rather than saying "you better start your homework right now or you are grounded for life," you can say something calm and neutral, like "I see that you are not doing your homework." That way when your kid says "I don't have any paper, I told you" it doesn't put you on the defensive and start a bunch of back-and-forth crap. You can just say "that's right, you did," and ask exactly what kind he needs as you pick up your car keys, and offer to let him come along so he can pick it out.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday night music


Thursday, March 25, 2010

I've seen some stuff on the internet for a while, wherein men express confusion about women who appear to be angry but won't say why. So I feel moved to produce a public service announcement.

What to do if your woman looks ticked.

Here are the possibilities.

1 – She isn’t; her head hurts or she just has “a look on her face”.

2 – She is, but not at you. Something happened at work, or during the drive home, or she had a set-to with her mother or best friend over the phone. In that case,

A – you may be able to help her think through next steps, or let her vent. If you do let her vent, that can’t get to be a longlasting thing, or a frequent thing, b/c it’s unhealthy for her (she’s not solving her problem) and unpleasant for you. Or

B – you really can’t do anything about it except leave her alone until she gets over it. Possibly she can be distracted by a nice gesture - if you cook dinner when it's not your turn, or make a special trip to the store for her favorite candy bar - but you shouldn't get offended if she's not.

In neither case is it about you. But you can make it about you if you pick at her until she blows up – see “PMS” below.

3 – She is, and it is about you.

A – You know why she’s mad and you don’t intend to change your ways. In that case, keep your lip zipped. You don’t have to do everything someone else wants, but you don’t have the right to insist that they not mind when you don’t. BTW, a relationship can probably stand a handful of issues like this over the course of time, but too many signal incompatibility.

B – You know why she’s mad and you regret whatever-it-is. A brief “I’m sorry” is probably in order, but the most important thing is not to repeat the offense.

C – She’s ticked at you, but you have no idea why. She may not either, or she may suspect she’s being unreasonable but can’t help it - see “PMS” below. You can’t assume that she’s mad at you unless she says so, and you don’t want to see her unhappy or endure a bunch of sulking, so probably best to say something like “If you’re mad at me I assume you’ll tell me why” and then SHUT UP. Once again – you can’t police the other person’s feelings or the look on her face. But DON’T do this if you really know why she’s angry but you have no intention of complying with what she wants, unless you just want to pick a fight – and this is very bad for the relationship.

If it happens often that she's angry at you and you don't know why until you ask, there are two possibilities here.

i - She is not communicating effectively. Expecting you to just magically know what she wants. That's kind of immature but people do it. If that's the case you'll have to politely point out that you are not a mindreader.

ii - She is communicating but you are not listening. That is your problem and you have to solve it. I personally do not nag, at home or at work; I'll say something a couple of times and then I'll shut up, because if I'm not getting compliance, I never think that adding to the noise level the person I'm talking to is dealing with will get it for me. Women who do nag say they do it because their men are not listening. You can train a woman to do that (unless she's like me and refuses to) or cause her to feel angry and resentful by tuning her out. (Nagging, of course, trains a man or a child to ignore the first fourteen times the nagger says something and that increases unpleasantness for everyone.) I realize we women talk a lot sometimes and it's hard to extract the kernel of relevant information; news flash - y'all do that too. So make an effort. : )


A word about PMS. Okay, several.

If you’ve never had it, imagine that about once a month a person injects you with a psychoactive drug. It may make you cry about trivial things, or it may make you obsess about things that don’t really matter. You may even wake up in the night fretting about something that another time wouldn’t bother you at all, and you can’t turn it off. Or it may cause you to have free-floating anger that settles on the nearest target.

You have no control over the person who injects you; or what drug you get, how much, how long it lasts.

And you don't even know when he's doing it, you have to figure it out from your symptoms.

The most you can do is try to anticipate when it might happen, and then try very hard not to share your inevitable misery with the people around you.

I never understand when a man acts like a woman’s PMS is a personal affront to him. Like having it is not enough of a burden for her, without him giving her a hard time about it as well. Men, we are not having PMS at you, I promise. If we could skip it, God knows we would.

And we’re not making things up like our clothes not fitting. I have pants that I cannot wear those few days, as well as certain underwear. It’s not convenient and it’s not fun. Chocolate craving – that’s real too. When I have been off the pill, my cycle has been so irregular as to leave me totally guessing when to expect my visitor. Most of the time it’s about 3 weeks, but sometimes as long as 5. Frequently the first warning I get is that the idea of Hershey’s chocolate pops into my head and I have to get some. The brain-altering chemicals in it are very calming. Rum-and-cokes help tremendously too, I’ve found.

But here is the kicker. I have a theory and I can back it up with anecdotal evidence: women who are premenstrual emit pheromones that cause the men around them to act like total jackasses when they would not at any other time. (So maybe we are having PMS at you, but not the way you think.) It seems to be satisfying to a man at times, to pick at a woman who has PMS until he touches off a big ol’ fight. That’s happened to me (at work) even when I’ve known I was premenstrual and was trying very hard not to get provoked, and once again, the man doing it was usually a nice person. What happens then is that he goes away with some kind of catharsis, and feeling superior about how she’s just a crazy chick, leaving her totally unnerved and possibly in tears. DON’T DO THAT. That is a relationship killer. If you have any reason to believe that a woman is premenstrual, and she has a look on her face, and she tells you “nothing” or "I'm just in a bad mood" when you ask what’s wrong, find enough self control to take that at face value and stay out of her path until her body chemistry settles down. Especially if that woman is your true-love. It may not be as much fun as picking at her until she explodes, but it’s the kindest thing you can do.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Here's a bit from the very end of Ethan Frome.

SPOILER ALERT! Don't read this if you haven't read EF but you're going to!

Mrs. Hale paused a moment, and I remained silent, plunged in the vision of what her words evoked. "It's horrible for them all," I murmured.

"Yes: it's pretty bad. And they ain't any of 'em easy people either. Mattie was, before the accident; I never knew a sweeter nature. But she's suffered too much - that's what I always say when folks tell me how she's soured. And Zeena, she was always cranky. Not but what she bears with Mattie wonderful - I've seen that myself. But sometimes the two of them get going at each other, and then Ethan's face'd break your heart... When I see that, I think it's him that suffers most... anyhow it ain't Zeena, because she ain't got the time... It's a pity, though," Mrs. Hale ended, sighing, "that they're all shut up there'n that one kitchen. In the summertime, on pleasant days, they move Mattie into the parlour, or out in the door-yard, and that makes it easier... but winters there's the fires to be thought of; and there ain't a dime to spare up at the Fromes'."

Mrs. Hale drew a deep breath, as though her memory were eased of its long burden, and she had no more to say; but suddenly an impulse of complete avowal seized her.

She took off her spectacles again, leaned toward me across the bead-work table-cover, and went on with lowered voice: "There was one day, about a week after the accident, when they all thought Mattie couldn't live. Well, I say it's a pity she did. I said it right out to our minister once, and he was shocked at me. Only he wasn't with me that morning when she first came to... And I say, if she'd ha' died, Ethan might ha' lived; and the way they are now, I don't see's there's much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard; 'cept that down there they're all quiet, and the women have got to hold their tongues."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

If it's Wednesday, this must be Wharton.

Here is a bit from The House of Mirth.

"You're perfectly beautiful now, Lily: your eyes are shining, and your cheeks have grown so pink all of a sudden - "

"Ah, they were pale, then - ghastly pale, when I came in? Why don't you tell me frankly that I'm a wreck? My eyes are bright now because I'm so nervous - but in the mornings they look like lead. And I can see the lines coming in my face - the lines of worry and disappointment and failure! Every sleepless night leaves a new one - and how can I sleep, when I have such dreadful things to think about?"

"Dreadful things - what things?" asked Gerty, gently detaching her wrists from her friend's feverish fingers. "What things? Well, poverty, for one - and I don't know any that's more dreadful." Lily turned away and sank with sudden weariness into the easy-chair near the tea-table. "You asked me just now if I could understand why Ned Silverton spent so much money. Of course I understand - he spends it on living with the rich. You think we live on the rich, rather than with them: and so we do, in a sense - but it's a privilege we have to pay for! We eat their dinners, and drink their wine, and smoke their cigarettes, and use their carriages and their opera-boxes and their private cars - yes, but there's a tax to pay on every one of those luxuries. The man pays it by big tips to the servants, by playing cards beyond his means, by flowers and presents - and - and - lots of other things that cost; the girl pays it by tips and cards too - oh, yes, I've had to take up bridge again - and by going to the best dress-makers, and having just the right dress for every occasion, and always keeping herself fresh and exquisite and amusing!"

She leaned back for a moment, closing her eyes, and as she sat there, her pale lips slightly parted, and the lids dropped above her fagged brilliant gaze, Gerty had a startled perception of the change in her face - of the way in which an ashen daylight seemed suddenly to extinguish its artificial brightness. She looked up, and the vision vanished.

"It doesn't sound very amusing, does it? And it isn't - I'm sick to death of it! And yet the thought of giving it all up nearly kills me - it's what keeps me awake at night, and makes me so crazy for your strong tea. For I can't go on in this way much longer, you know - I'm nearly at the end of my tether. And then what can I do - how on earth am I to keep myself alive? I see myself reduced to the fate of that poor Silverton woman - slinking about to employment agencies, and trying to sell painted blotting-pads to Women's Exchanges! And there are thousands and thousands of women trying to do the same thing already, and not one of the number who has less idea how to earn a dollar than I have!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

A few quick thoughts.

1 - If you are reading a news article about something someone has said or done, and you find yourself saying, "I don't understand why...", frequently you should stop right there. That is a pause-and-reflect moment, or possibly a red flag that you're about to say something insensitive or even downright stupid. An extreme example of this is a comment that I remember a man making about poor little Megan Meier: "If being on MySpace was upsetting her, I don't understand why she didn't just log off and stay off." Well, because she was a thirteen-year-old girl, not a grown man. She probably wouldn't have understood why the commenter doesn't dot his i's with little hearts and wear pink underwear, so they're even. Which leads me to...

2 - ...People are different from each other. And that's cool. That's the real message of diversity: Don't expect other people to be like you. Don't wonder why they don't act as you do. And for pete's sake, where other people's actions and attitudes deviate from yours, don't consider this to be an area where they are flawed. It may be - if they deviate from you in that they lie where you are honest, etc., - but it isn't a foregone conclusion in every case. When I was at Pittcon I attended a little talk sponsored by Lab Manager Magazine. The speaker talked about personality types - DISC: Dominating, Influencing, Steady, Conscientious - and how people who fall into these catagories act, and how to deal with them. He made a point of saying that we all are any of these at different times, and that one is not better than another. Well, one may be better for a specific job function. But one is not morally superior to another, or more worthy of a human. I've been through a little bit of personality testing, and I think it's been worthwhile to get some insight into how I tick (e.g., why I get angry when the reason is not immediately obvious) as well as how other people might differ and how they need to be interacted with, which may be different from they way I would interact with them if I don't put some thought to it.

3 - Finally, if a person who is a member of a group of which you are not a member, talks about a problem of that group - racism, sexism, etc. - you don't have to accept everything they say without critical thought at all, but your first reaction should probably be to remind yourself that they are more likely to know what they are talking about than you are. You might ask yourself: if this is a legitimate problem, would it be a problem for me? And if the answer is "no" then be a little slow to dismiss their concern. Even if you think they have totally misunderstood the situation and the problem simply isn't there, if you start with "I can see that this looks really bad. If I were you I wouldn't like it either," you'll get a more positive response than "Oh, you're just seeing something that's not there. Quit looking for ways to get offended."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here's an excerpt from a ghost story originally published in 1902. Yes, alert reader, I've written about it before.

"Now, Hartley," Mrs. Railton said, in that cheery way that always made me feel things must be going to take a turn for the better -- "now understand me; it's not a cheerful place I'm sending you to. The house is big and gloomy; my niece is nervous, vaporish; her husband -- well, he's generally away; and the two children are dead. A year ago, I would as soon have thought of shutting a rosy active girl like you into a vault; but you're not particularly brisk yourself just now, are you? and a quiet place, with country air and wholesome food and early hours, ought to be the very thing for you. Don't mistake me," she added, for I suppose I looked a trifle downcast; "you may find it dull, but you won't be unhappy. My niece is an angel. Her former maid, who died last spring, had been with her twenty years and worshipped the ground she walked on. She's a kind mistress to all, and where the mistress is kind, as you know, the servants are generally good-humored, so you'll probably get on well enough with the rest of the household. And you're the very woman I want for my niece: quiet, well-mannered, and educated above your station. You read aloud well, I think? That's a good thing; my niece likes to be read to. She wants a maid that can be something of a companion: her last was, and I can't say how she misses her. It's a lonely life . . . Well, have you decided?"

"Why, ma'am," I said, "I'm not afraid of solitude."

"Well, then, go; my niece will take you on my recommendation. I'll telegraph her at once and you can take the afternoon train. She has no one to wait on her at present, and I don't want you to lose any time."

I was ready enough to start, yet something in me hung back; and to gain time I asked, "And the gentleman, ma'am?"

"The gentleman's almost always away, I tell you," said Mrs. Ralston, quick-like -- "and when he's there," says she suddenly, "you've only to keep out of his way."

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I missed my Wharton Wednesday yesterday. I happened to be at Pittcon until it closed at 5:00, and then spent the evening with F in Kissimmee getting various things done.

Was at Pittcon Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. I had a good time talking to the instrument vendors, a few of whom I knew, and seeing what's out there. There's some cool stuff.

F and I worked on one of her costumes for MegaCon (are we seeing a theme here?), ate catfish and fried okra and tomatoes that I cooked in her little kitchen, and did her taxes.

Here's a bit from The Custom of the Country again.

"Ralph don't make a living out of the law, you say? No, it didn't strike me he'd be likely to, from the talks I've had with him. Fact is, the law's a business that wants--" Mr. Spragg broke off, checked by a protest from Mr. Dagonet. "Oh, a PROFESSION, you call it? It ain't a business?" His smile grew more indulgent as this novel distinction dawned on him. "Why, I guess that's the whole trouble with Ralph. Nobody expects to make money in a PROFESSION; and if you've taught him to regard the law that way, he'd better go right into cooking-stoves and done with it."

Mr. Dagonet, within a narrower range, had his own play of humour; and it met Mr. Spragg's with a leap. "It's because I knew he would manage to make cooking-stoves as unremunerative as a profession that I saved him from so glaring a failure by putting him into the law."

The retort drew a grunt of amusement from Mr. Spragg; and the eyes of the two men met in unexpected understanding.

"That so? What can he do, then?" the future father-in-law enquired.

"He can write poetry--at least he tells me he can." Mr. Dagonet hesitated, as if aware of the inadequacy of the alternative, and then added: "And he can count on three thousand a year from me."

Mr. Spragg tilted himself farther back without disturbing his subtly-calculated relation to the scrap basket.

"Does it cost anything like that to print his poetry?"

Mr. Dagonet smiled again: he was clearly enjoying his visit. "Dear, no--he doesn't go in for 'luxe' editions. And now and then he gets ten dollars from a magazine."

Mr. Spragg mused. "Wasn't he ever TAUGHT to work?"

"No; I really couldn't have afforded that."