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Sixteen Lines: Eighth Line

Our colloquy is interrupted by the appearance of the Child, dressed in a bright red dress with incredibly fancy embroidery. The Governmental Authority is pleased at the interruption, and jocularly scolds the Child, comparing her to something from a court mask from Old King James’ time—’we called them then the Children of Misrule! My character attempts to join the jocosity:

Indeed, a little bird of scarlet plumage? Art thou a Christian child? Or some naughty elf or fairy?

So. This is a very complicated bit to answer questions about, although not very difficult to play (he said, courting disaster). It is addressed to the Child, of course, although it is only notionally addressed to her, as my character is mostly speaking to the other men present by speaking to the child. He doesn’t have (I think) any particular reaction in mind from the Child, but he very much wants the Governmental Authority, and to a lesser extent the Man and the Husband, to chuckle approvingly at how terrific he is with children. Which, alas, is not very terrific at all; his attempts at hilarity are stiff and awkward, and rather than bring my character in to the circle of grupps, the effect is to unite the other men in sympathy with the Child. But I don’t know that.

Furthermore, while my character is against children wearing bright colors, and against elves and fairies, he is for his little jokes and the putative hilarity that ensues, or doesn’t. And while there is no reason for the line to be in a minor key, best of all is to hit false notes, fail to resolve, clink on the ear like a, um, well, you know what I mean.

Actually, my key for the line so far is to pronounce the word Christian with three syllables: kriss-tea-an. That bit is directed right in the little girl’s face, before turning to present the point of the joke to the grown-ups.

Of course, it isn’t really a joke, which makes it funnier.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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