Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Pot Boy Tells All

The Pot Boy has captured the castle. The Beggar Queen is out, and mice will jig.

I have wanted to be more than a Pot Boy. In fact, I have a yen to be Palace Advice Columnist. Send me your questions, doubts, and uncertainties, and I will, with a whisk of my kitchen wand tipped with the old scrubbing brush, clean away the grime and oil and display an answer--the battered old silver of a pot shining like the moon.

Why not? If the Beggar Queen is also a Laundrywoman, why not the Pot Boy a P. A. C.? So bring me your dirty pots of grief, your pans jostling with questionmarks, your tired saucepans, your poor spatulas, your wire meshes yearning to spring free, etc.

I set myself up to answer questions on:
proper attire for festive events in the kitchen;
what you should do next;
arts and letters;
your good and bad fortune;
reticence and confession;
advice to the lovelorn;
the Beggar Queen and retinue;
dinner at the Palace;
the meaning of life;
priests, kings, fools, and wastrels;
what we sing in the kitchen while laboring at the fire;
the Great Chain of Being;
the best way to pare your nails;
the music of the Spheres;
joy, laughter, and grief;
the keeping of peacocks, etc.

In short, all.
Except politics.

* * * * * * *

Photo credit: Well, I'm not sure about this one. I might have saved it off a commerical site but failed to note where... If anybody knows the source, please tell me. But I think it's an American tin kitchen, not a German or French one. I like the way the bigger doll is about to play with the smaller one.

*******

Second thoughts about the wee matter of politics: Nevertheless, I'm very tempted to rant about exactly why Yale thought it wisdom to accept former Taliban spokesman Ramatullah Hashemi as a student but refused to take part in the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women...

P-BUEAG! Pot Boys United for the Education of Afghan girls!
***

19 comments:

  1. Gaze into your all-knowing salt shaker, and read me my fourtune, if you please, Ms. Youmans. Does it consist of warmer winds blowing in luck on a daffodil- scented wind, or perhaps of astonishing discoveries as I sail the uncharted waters of new print?

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  2. To the Esteemed Boy, Patron of Pots and Sheikh of Spatulas,

    I find myself faced with a difficult problem. I myself am quite one for the kitchen--my appetite for Indian food is endless. My sister, Wren, despairs of my breath ever smelling of anything other than onions and yogurt, and tells me she is sick of eating lentils. What can I do to cure myself of this unfortunate habit? I simply can't make myself eat any other kind of food--it is so delicious! Please help me, or my sister will turn me out of the house.

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  3. A good start, Miss Megan and Mr. Degao.

    I note that Miss Megan has called on other services that my own, so I will just say that I see her ripping her way through the 7th and 8th grade and proceeding on to Honors English in the 9th. That is my own small contribution to fortune-telling, seen not in a crystal ball but in a plain old copper pot, much dented but with good handles and faithful conduction.

    As for Mr. Degao, this is a serious and important puzzle of the kitchen that I shall answer at length, once I have mulled my answer.

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  4. I shall disagree with you Pot Boy. You see, today in Ms. L's class Megan informed us as to what she shall be diong over spring break. She said, "I shall be exploring worlds not my own through writing."
    Translation: She will be writting over spring break. I am staring into you copper pot in awe and wondering at my classmate writing novel after novel, to rise to the same level or higher than Shakespeare. Let just hope she will still graces us "little people" with her wisdom.

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  5. Well you, Ms. Youmans, shall be Megan's equal, as you are as high on my favorites list as Cornelia Funke, and she's my all time favorite author. Well she's my favorite writer, you are my favorite author. As a person you are my favorite, but she rights just as well as you, especially Inkheart and Inkspell. Please don't take offence by this, I love both you and Cornelia Funke. Just wondering, have you ever met her?

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  6. You, Katie, are free to peer above the chimney-tops of time, but I can only see as far as my kitchen pots. Now if you had asked me about the best way to avoid clawing a pan...

    I am quite willing to believe what you say. You see, I am only a Pot Boy--I will let my betters judge. (Everybody does judge, you know. That's a grand thing about books. Everybody has an opinion.)

    Cornelia Funke. I don't think that the two are personally acquainted. At least, I have never scrubbed her dishes! The world of writers is small compared to the world of all men and all women and all children, but there are many people in it.

    And now I am off to curl up in my bedroll in the scullery... I'm all worn out by managing the Beggar Queen's correspondence!

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  7. Hello Pot Boy,

    I am the Blog Queen of the Grove Palace. I met the Queen of the palace at 2:00 am at a workshop. I was one of her lowly students. Wonderful lady she. Which of her estemed offspring are you? The eldest perchance?

    So Pot Boy, I have three questions for you. How does one manage to quit ones job and become a full time writer? And, can one make a living writing?

    This Blog Queen teaches a 7th grade ELA at a trying and tiring school. Two of my classes are good, but the other one is a nightmare. The AG one actually.

    So the Blog Queen teacher wants to ditch it all and do something else. Anything else. Actually if you need a scullery maid, let me know.

    The last question. What is the hierarchy of your palace?

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  8. Katie, Taith, and Megan, thanks for the correspondence. I see a shining new-pot future for you all, Taith as a great food taster, Megan as a writer in new forms not yet invented, and Katie as an unusually clever book marketer for Farrar, Straus!

    As for the Blog Queen: what a lot of questions!

    I'll have to mull some of them as well. Perhaps I'll get to do some Pot Boy posts, if the Beggar Queen gives me the key. She is away doing her frightful, frightful taxes.

    And I'm not progeny. I'm just the Pot Boy.

    Of course, sculleries are rife with princes in disguise. I am, naturally, handsome and smart and perhaps a little vain, even if all my education is out of books in the Palace library. When I burst through the door, the scullery maids sometimes faint in delight.

    There's your first reply. More anon.

    So all you supplicants, look for my wise Pot Boy answers in the coming week or so! Short answers here; long answers as pot-posts. It'll probably take her that long to wrap up the taxes. She's not very good with adding up all those little numbers...

    Keep those little questions coming. Meanwhile, I shall mull as I scrub, and let the copper and silver pots cast their spell.

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  9. Oh, most wise Pot Boy, I have a problem. My mind has gone completely and not even left a forwarding address. I watched part of a Star Wars movie with my brother, and now, think, I can't. I mean I can't think. What can I do to get out of this non-creative state?

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  10. Mulled answers to come! In the meantime, my advice to one and all is to scrub a large pot with slow, circular motions...

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  11. Megan-
    Try to go on a long walk through nature and describe the trees as you pass. Trees are the most intricate, indescribable things, you can't help being sucked into a creative state of mind trying to describe them. I hope it helps you get back into your writing state. It always works for me. I expect great thing from you. For me, the open suitcase, then the sandy shores of Topsoil Beach await!

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  12. Ah yes Meagan,

    The creative state. I understand how you feel darlin'. I waste a lot of time watching movies with the Grove Palace Knight. He loves movies, claims they are the 21st centuries new and best art form, combining writing/stories, music, art/video, and acting. He may be right, he may not be.

    At any rate, I get into a vegetative state watching movies, and then don't feel as creative for a while. I find I must be alone to create. Must truly go inside myself, and watching movies is not that state. Even if I have to stare at the page/canvas for a bit and relax in my studio, things eventually come. My problem is getting away from everyone ans everything for a bit. I'd like to put up a sign that says "Leave the queen alone, she's thinking." But sometimes I become very frustrated with creative block. Then the answer is just leave it, go do something else. If left to bubble for a while things will cook up to the surface, like the cooking in one of the pot boys copper kettles.

    So who IS the pot boy? That's what I'd like to know. Marly, Husband, friend?????? The mysterious pot boy, who also has me interested in how he looks, is intriquing.

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  13. Many thanks to Katie and Blog Queen for helping me escape the clutches of my predicament. Your suggestions really helped! The effects of only 30 min. of Star Wars were wearing off when I spotted a collection of miniature rainbows, waltzing across the floor, accompanied by pinpricks of light. The best thing one can do when in an uncreative state is to find a miracle, whether it be in writing or adrift in the currents of the "real" world.

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  15. Subliminal messages of a fish: who could hold back?

    I quite like fish, though the pans can be a pain to scrub...

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  17. No, I do not like, do you hear? I am a Pot Boy, with all the honors of my kind. In my way, I am an artist--and that doesn't even touch on my forays into dance and sculpture and composition.

    If I want to sully my hands with dirty money, it will not be with get-rich-quick schemes. Get my drift? It's not subliminal! And it is free...

    Any more of this nonsense, and I'll take off my rose-colored leisure suit, fetch the ruler of these parts, and make sure we're back in the Land of Word Verification!

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  18. Dear Pot Boy,

    As a long-time keeper of snails I am thinking of branching out and acquiring some peacocks. I was wondering if you have any valuable advice in this regard. Do you think peacocks would be more troublesome than snails, for instance, and do you have any tips for sprucing up peahens who in comparison always seem to be so very dowdy.

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  19. Yes, I am full of valuable advice! I shall shake some out shortly. Thank you for the very interesting question. I shall be considering it while I scrub the pots, although I already have a few colorful ideas.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.