This month’s guest blogger is Tim Queeney. His new book, George in London was featured recently on my blog, and he’s been kind enough to return and write something as part of my September Humour Month.
Of course, he’s an expert in the field of humor. I’ve been a fan of Tim’s satirical news site, Height of Eye for some time now and encourage you to check it out.
Please welcome the wily and witty, Tim Queeney.
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What makes someone attractive? The obvious answer is looks — the hot bod and the pretty face (or the hunky bod and the handsome face). But there is another type of attraction, too. Sometimes we are captured by another person’s wit, charm and charisma. They are just so damn fun, funny or engaging, we don’t care so much what they look like. Remember that guy or girl in school who was no beauty but had the opposite sex hanging on their every word?
The idea of differing physical and verbal attractiveness is perhaps most famously played out in the story of the 16th century French soldier Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano is witty and charming but has an enormous nose that limits his visual appeal. He must woo the beautiful Roxanne for a man who’s a hunk, but also a dolt. Cyrano remains hidden, feeding wonderful lines to the hunk, who repeats them as if they are his own. Cyrano burns with desire even as he crafts his lovely language. He wishes that Roxanne could only see the beauty of his words and choose him over the hunk, no matter that he has a prodigious proboscis (of course, if Cyrano’s nose is that big it does raise the question of the sizing of his other body parts – perhaps Roxanne is missing out on something good here).
In my novel, George in London, I have fun using this idea for a nighttime scene where one man woos a woman for another and a double case of mistaken identity occurs.
One night during his adventure in London, the 19-year-old George Washington believes he has been summoned to a moonlit meeting with the beautiful French countess Sophie. She waits for him inside her coach, parked next to the somewhat suggestively named Marybone Basin. But Washington is too nervous to speak for himself, fearing he will say the wrong thing and drive her away forever. Darius Attucks, an African American mariner, is George’s companion on their trip to London and it is Darius who hits upon a scheme to woo Sophie. Darius will speak for George — who he calls “Geo” — until the countess eagerly invites George into her coach for an amorous encounter.
In his playful exchanges with the woman in the coach, Darius uses the language of war as a metaphor for sexual conquest. He likens sex to the siege of an 18th century Vauban fort. During such a siege, the attacker digs a series of steadily closer trenches that bring the attackers nearer to the very heart of the fort. The defenders attempt to defend the fort with cannon fire, but they must be relentlessly accurate in their cannonades. Because as the trenches get closer, the attackers set up their own cannon that can destroy the cannon inside the fort. If the defenders’ cannon is knocked out of action, the fate of the fort is sealed. The attackers can dig their covering trenches right up to the walls and then rush the fort’s defenses and overwhelm it.
But enough military history already! Below is the excerpt from George in London with Darius playing Cyrano.
“The dark of night approaches and soon we will hide in the folds of its cloak. Since I carry none of the emotion that burdens you, let me speak for you. She will stay within the coach while I converse with her. Given the quality of my education, my facility for English rhetoric is excellent — certainly better than your own. She need never know that it is me who speaks to her. You will wait and when she bids you enter, so you shall.”
“It does have a certain genius,” Geo admitted. “Though I must protest the assertion that you speak the King’s English better than me.”
“How could the son of a pig farmer from the swamps of Virginia have better speech than a man educated at the finest school in New York City? The idea is preposterous on its face.”
Geo grudgingly conceded my point and soon we were in place near the lady’s coach. The coach lanterns were weak and the footmen who attended the countess were happy to see the tall, young figure of Geo step into the light. They had been told of his arrival, so they quickly repaired to the far side of the coach to commence games of dice and to drink gin. Geo then stepped back into the shadows and I stepped forward.
A female voice called out through the yellow curtains that masked the coach windows. “Who is that without?” The timbre of the voice was rather different than what I had expected from the countess, but there was no time to delay.
“’Tis I, my lady,” I replied.
“Ah,” she gurgled contentedly. “I am most pleased you have come.”
“How could I do otherwise? To gaze once again at your beauty would draw me from the farthest reaches of Araby or even from darkest Africa.” Geo frowned at my mention of Africa, supposing perhaps that I might give myself away, but I waved him off. He could be such a dolt.
“When I saw you today, I was taken with your manly prospect,” she said. “Little did I realize you also had a tongue of silver.”
“As you say, my lady. I possess a tongue of silver to sing your praises, ears of diamond to hear your wishes, a heart of gold to treasure your love and a root of the firmest British oak with which to be of service.”
She laughed and her hand started to open the curtain.
“Pray, my lady, wait further before drawing back the cloth,” I said quickly. “I am sensible of great delight in prolonging the moment of first entry.”
She was not adverse to my suggestion, though she pretended to be so. “Shall we banter like this all night? I grow warm here in my coach.”
“It would be a pleasure unsurpassed simply to continue this intercourse ’twixt us ’til old Sol peeked over the world’s edge,” I said.
“Would be pleasant, true, but I’d be consumed by the heat of my blood, which rises apace. You must climb aboard and make bodily plain the sweet ecstasy of your words. Do you so mercilessly tease the girls of America?”
“In matters of Venus, as in matters of Mars, there can be no quarter given. First must the citadel be besieged and made ready for the final thrust. When the wall is breached, then the attack can be consummated.”
“Oh, indeed,” she sighed. “You have most assuredly effected a breach, sir, and my inner keep lies open for your triumphal entry.”
I smiled in the dark at her eagerness. “Even now my forces strain forward, tight against their constraining trenches. The trumpet is up, ready for the final signal.”
A sigh of frustration came from within the coach. “Damn it! You must rush forward into the breach now! I will brook no further delay!” With this, she flung open the door and leaned forward with her arms outstretched.
I had expected to see the pretty young face and comely figure of the Countess d’ Abbeville. I was instead confronted with another woman entirely. She was older and rather more shopworn than the countess. Leaning forward with an attitude of lustful abandon, a position underlined by her loosened clothes, bare skin and flushed complexion, was none other than Fanny Chase. My surprise was so great I found myself momentarily struck dumb.
And to be fair, the surprise for Lady Chase must have been equally great. Instead of a tall, dashing young white gentleman, she was confronted, instead, with a shorter, somewhat more weathered (though I like to think still dashing in my own way), African man. Though she knew me as well as she knew Geo, Lady Chase reacted as if she had seen Beelzebub himself. She screamed wildly as she attempted to quickly tighten all the items of her clothing that she had loosened.
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George in London available for Kindle at Amazon
Thanks Tim for sharing your humorous excerpt! To my readers, have you had any funny encounters with mistaken identity? Please comment and let us know!