Gems in the Rough

JoAnn Ferguson

The glint in her eye (if you’re quick enough to catch it – assuming she’s not evasively glancing sideways or downwards) instantly betrays her mischief. The curled corners of her mouth barely disguise the obvious gratification she derives from the devilment. JoAnn Ferguson is one very opinionated lady and it requires but a hint of assent or objection by her correspondent to translate the initial reaction into either glee or resentment. Don’t count on hearing anything direct, just innuendo – usually deprecatory.  Her tongue has the dexterity of a lizard. Some people call it satire. I consider it less cerebral, more visceral. JoAnn is after all primarily the keeper of a cave. She’s an animal with the instinct to guard the door against intruders. Her blunt native talents haven’t been contaminated with the fractious liberalism of higher education. Nor for that matter has she had any formal training whatsoever as far as I know which no doubt has sadly contributed to keeping her in her place (though not without the penalty of intransigence generally).  As a result I have never thought of her as intellectual, in fact just the opposite.  She won’t however betray her lack of comprehension any more readily than any other of her innermost sentiments, always shrouded. But I – alive to her sensitivities and detecting her feelings of inadequacy – have learned to accommodate her challenges by offering a simplified explanation where required. Years of researching the esoteric details of law have positioned me to practice plain-speaking analysis if I am to be understood.

Mrs. JoAnn Ferguson undeniably has the blessing of a pleasing appearance. She is neither grotesque nor fat; “dated” would be my over-riding opinion. Her look does not inspire anything intoxicating least of all sexual but not even artistic and certainly not individual. Plain is the word which springs to mind, saccharin if you will. This mixed blessing is one which has never fomented any particular discussion one way or the other.  She is a pretty vase but an empty one.

Mr. Ferguson

Mr. Ferguson is for the most part peevish.  At least he gives the impression of being constantly annoyed.  For some reason everything for him is fringed with objectionable qualities requiring condemnation in a constant low-level monotone. This he imagines contributes to his semblance as a seer, someone who has risen above the froth of humanity to the clearer air above. It is all a projection designed to distract from the pathetic nature of his capitulation. A very long time ago Mr. Ferguson decided he’d never amount to anything – which ultimately will probably be quite correct.  In the meantime however he has managed to obfuscate the failing by achieving what by some standards is noteworthy. Unfortunately for him the resulting production is as distorted as his abhorrence of himself (and possibly the fear of his genetics). Though it is far too late in life for Mr. Ferguson to do anything to reclaim his suffocated private nature (now drenched in alcohol and jaded by fluff) he nonetheless persists to race after the shallow material achievements which so clearly mark his demeanour.  His is a preposterous existence!

Grantham Daramy

Gran has her own brand of subterfuge. It comes off as sweetness and light but don’t be fooled. I have never recovered from her condemnation of her husband as a man without ambition. It just struck me as egregiously cruel! Naturally it was no surprise to discover she had similar words of reproof for other members of her immediate family. It all leads to one conclusion only – other people are to blame. It is exceedingly difficult to find anything sustainable when the net for propriety is cast so widely. Surely not everything has to be perfect! But there is very little, except upon minute analysis, which supports even a blush of happiness.

It never does to try to change others.  It’s an impossible undertaking no matter how well-intentioned. But after making all the excuses for despondency and regret, there has to come a point when certain expectations are tenable. Reciprocity is critical to an enduring relationship, and not just tolerance. There has to be some output, some shared intelligence even if only the mundane trials of life.

Someone who I assess should know has labelled Gran as untrustworthy, implying something devious or conniving. I wasn’t surprised. More often than I care to repeat Gran joked about money and inheritance, always a knotty combination. The social conventions became bland and charitable, more significant for their beneficence than their camaraderie. There was no chance of cracking the shell. The impermeability had fossilized. But it no longer matters. I enjoy feeling the cool oily dampness of my hair and listening to the muted power of the sea. As much as I may have wanted to share it with Gran it will never happen, it’s just the way it is, the reality. It’s obviously no great loss either way. The erosion just took far longer than I imagined.

Trixie and Warren Cruikshank

The Cruikshanks love orbits, groups of people who do things together like dine, make things or go places. They need and feed the strength of their private clubs. While they like to be known for being involved and performing novel exploits they’re very strict about following rules, their rules. They have collectively garnered years of practice by carrying out extended projects in which they’ve mastered the art of manipulating people for their own purposes, mostly just for the sake of being in control not any specific agenda. It is difficult to know whence exactly this odd psychological trait springs since neither of them is apparently singular for anything other than their own sense of correctness and monopoly. My guess is that they have that blasé veneer that has characterized a generation of successful people in business, the amalgam of clinical exactitude and mid-western complacency (including shamefully sensible clothes and excessive lawn equipment).

When one digresses from absorption in the affairs of the Cruikshanks things grind to a speedy halt. Given their own multi-tasking and high-energy involvement there is little room for social nicety. What is a stake is always production and change and it never stops. The only thing that holds them together is the gravity of their mutual centrifuge. No one else could stand the pace or tolerate the perpetual commotion. Besides they haven’t the inclination to indulge the comparatively less enthralling habits of others (unless of course it affords them the opportunity of management).

Igor Mikhailov, OD, BsCd, AMTP

Igor is moderately entertaining though less so when he succumbs – as he routinely does – to “the drink”. His professional qualification is a clear reflection of his latent intellectual skills though he has deferred their exercise in aid of making money and taking care of his family. These are not objectionable decisions but I have always felt he could have risen above some of the domestic pedantry.  He is a reminder that getting old is not always pretty, that even the youthful advantages of looks and talent can become corrupted.  I suspect the motivation has always been to achieve a certain level of social standing, not an uncommon ambition among those whose social roots are less than patrician. But breeding – like truth – will always out in the end and there is no getting away from  it.

Maintaining the trappings of success is important for Igor.  But his dedication to that goal is always debased by his inner knowledge that it is ultimately a hollow victory, one in which only he – if anyone – will rejoice in the end. I amuse myself to speculate how speedily the transition from exterior to interior will transpire. There are currently so many chains about his waist that it is quite impossible to guess with any certainty when he’ll free himself. I suspect he’ll prove to be a homeboy and relinquish what he has achieved on this continent before returning to his own.

Conclusion and Critical Analysis

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

John Donne

The people is one’s life have sometimes been described as heaven and hell and everything in between. The standard rebuttal is that no man is an island. Accepting that, it remains to acknowledge that in reality we do not choose our friends any more than our family. In either case it’s strangely natural and organic. Certainly some people are so methodical about constructing their alliances that they surround themselves with those who satisfy their personal causes. But they hardly qualify as friends. Friends are the ones with whom you relish nattering even dissing (others of course). I suppose it is tolerable that friends can disappoint, the same way parents may regret their children. I likewise hold friends to high standards.  Perhaps it is because when I was young friendship replaced the void of family ties. In any event I have reluctantly adopted the same resignation that parents must eventually embrace. This doesn’t mean that I tolerate conduct of any description but rather that I ignore any sense of failure and deprivation. The remove which this engenders naturally contributes to a degree of remoteness but it nicely avoids outright condemnation.  At times though I think this concession is  a life-line thrown to a passing ship from that proverbial island.