The Hester Prynn Purity Test

Thus, is reported a recent conversation on alt.callahans between John Barnstead and Sailor Jim Johnston, a pair whose punning talents makes me jealous. If you are unfamiliar with the Callahan ficton by Spider Robinson, Fast Eddie is the piano man who administers peace and quiet to those who overly express uninvited curiosity. Such quiet is frequently administered with a frown or a blackjack.

Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat rises from his customary Place of Repose. “If you posed right the first time you wouldn’t need to repose, Pernicious,” remarks Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat’s faithful amanuensis and general factotum.

“Oh, do shut up, Barnstead,” replies Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat atop the pile of ham sandwiches comprising the Free Lunch ™ to report on a recent discovery he made while cruising the web:

“I don’t suppose there are many among the Patronage-at-Large who haven’t tried their forward dexter manipulative extremity (or sinister, as the case may be…) to one of the many soi-disant ‘purity tests’ floating about cyberspace since time immemorial… Still, I have recently located one that I at any rate found mildly amusing. It was one of those ‘mark your favourite mythological figure’s most appropriate body part for describing the current state of your libido’ questionnaires — I know, I know, it’s been done a thousand times — but what I found interesting was that it had apparently been designed by a number of the Patrons of this Establishment… Now, far be it from me to risk incurring the wrath of Fast Eddie,” — Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat glances anxiously in the direction of the pianola, but all is apparently well in that quarter — “but I should dearly like to know just who it was who doctored that photo of my faithful amanuensis and general factotum to produce that delightful portrayal of him as Silenus… I do suspect that it was Sailor Jim who visited the site immediately before I did, though, because the amanuensical posterior was boldly outlined in red two times — and it is well known that Sailor Jim, when playing the part of Professor Harold Hill in a certain well-known musical, often remarked

‘The satyr butt twice circled for me…'”

Given this provocation, Sailor Jim replied.

Sailor Jim ducks his head and shudders violently for applause … but when his manly visage can once again be seen, he’s smiling.

“Terrible thing, kitty, but ’twasn’t me.

“I’m the fella who visited it next and, with a few deft lines, turned Silliness .. er, Silenus (darn spell check) into a most zaftig woman and ‘her’ slightly altered tushy into a beer can … for as anyone who ever saw me attempt to follow in the footsteps of the immortal Mr. Preston (which is acting speak for ‘I stole everything I could from the guy’) knows that my actual remark was

‘The sadder Budweiser Gal for me … ‘”


(“Although I understand it was cleaned up within 24 hours and replaced with graffiti for the NRA. Oh well … beer today, gun tomorrow.”)

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