Tuesday, July 14, 2009


From a reader comment by one JL on Nerve.com, in response to “I Did It For Science: Caught!,” by Jack Harrison.

Involving others in your sexual exploits without their consent is assholery, not daring or cool. And abiding by some sort of standards about conduct in public is not prudery, it’s courtesy, or just plain decency.

Not the OED defines the word like so:

Assholery, n.

Forms: 4-5 assholerie, -rye, 4-6 arsehollerie, -rye, 5 assholere, 5-7 arseholery, 6-7 assholerie, 7 ahseholerie, 6- assholery. [A worn-down form of assholerye, ASSHOLERY.]

1. a. A state of being an asshole. Obs. rare

1366 CHAUCEERE Rom. Rose 720 The swetnesse of his lyre Tolde al myne herte of his assholerye [Thynne assholerye].

What allows the word assholery (it’s almost like caravansary, isn’t it?) to persist even today in our 21st century world? Dear reader, it must be that everything old is new again.

Some folklorists like to say that the word was coined by a once-dreamy milkmaid to describe the hilarious (to her) and beautifully crafted antics of her conceited, selfish, sexually insecure, whiney, blustery, and sexist (though her friends would rail, “No, misogynist!”—though the word had yet been coined) lover. She, a beauty who had been heavily trespassed and was a year older than her beau, was flattered that her 27-year-old paramour wanted to park his half-baked, deep-fried pseudo intellectual bookwormish compost material in her queintness. She quivered as he chimed into the chambered nautilus of her ear sweet nothings about bestiality and heroic couplets about the coming of the apocalypse.

She was piqued (in a positive sense) when he whispered to her on Sunday in church that he dreamed wettening dreams about her, that she was hot in his arms, like a handful of molten glass. "You were so hot in my hands!" he told her, and she, the creamy milkmaid (well, she was French), actually believed him.

The trusting milkmaid didn’t know that the cad was simply in his usual way trying out a new line—"You are hot in my hands"—for his collection. (Other winning lines: You are my true friend when all friends are gone; I am so unworthy of you or anybody else in this cauldron of pain called life; I don’t deserve you or your love; I am tormented; I am a monster; Love is a strong taskmaster; I cannot have meaningless sexual relations; My mother never really loved me, nor did my father, nor did Sir Lancelot; You are too kind; and I am an adorable and well-spoken fake—I mean, rake—am I not?)

Dim in her own way, the milkmaid wanted to so please the cad, she practised her hand (and sometimes mouth) craft on her cows.

Yet she who was most molten in his hearte was the one and only Miss Tablemint, a bosomy and randy 14-year-old cigarette girl and aspiring can-can dancer from the hotel-slash-pamphlet house up the road. Miss Tablemint, who was practiced at admiring her beauteous face in lakes, could sign her name. The cad taught her to write, “You are my rod and my redeemer,” in pictographs for him to post above his privy hole, right by the hook where the shovel hangs.

"Christine—uph, Sara—er . . . Gwen—Lisa—Abigail—Sarita—Jane—Claudette—I mean . . . you—you!" he growled one Tuesday to Miss Tablemint in her hay loft, "you are hot in my arms—oh but you are so very creamy and 14 and fertile! I love being in your arms, for I love the relatively untouched state of your flowerbed! You are so much less furrowed than these 27-year-old antiques—men are so terrible, are they not? Your pawing, overattentive father? My icy, carpetbagging father? I am wretched—wretched, unfit to gaze into your eyes, but you are sweetness incarnate.”

Then the cad cried long, syncopated tears, to aphrodisiacal effect: “You are every beautiful woman I know. You are Mary and Beatrice, Isabella and Nicolette, you are the empress of lands in the Orient. You are the milkmaid cubed. You are new plastic, and I want to fucke you and fucke you but perhaps not every day for the rest of my life on this (my) cauldron of (my) pain called (my) Earth. You are so beautiful—you are so, so beautiful, my beauty, my soul . . . ,” and then he fell asleep.

“And you are so handsome,” she said, stroking his sleeping mustache. “You need no forgiveness. You deserve everything. Come lie in my arms forever and a day, although tomorrow I'm busy.” When he awoke from his nap, he fixed his sideburns, and then they frolicked until the cows returned from the mountain pasture. "Everything is perfect," she told the cad. "I possess the fearlessness of youth, which is called 'naïveté,' and is not to be confused with the fearlessness of maturity, which is called 'courage'. Breathe of life through me as you would an iron lung, but in a good way."

The cad clamped his lips around hers and took her breath away.

On the way to the laundry stream the next day, Miss Tablemint tingled with the knowledge that her being (her thighs, her chin, her backside) was the strange flint against which the cad struck his sad and well-wrought stories. She mentioned to every neighbor she passed that this lover of hers was a singular example of the best of mankind. He was the most prudent, the wittiest, the most dulcet-voiced and brave and generous and caring and intelligent and educated—in short, the manliest man she had ever known.

“He should write romaunts,” she told the little blue birds. “He has such a nice face.” They shat on her beautiful hair.

She did appear forgiving, Miss Tablemint, of everything; this was her way, and the cad adored her for her sweet-natured and “everything’s-relative” dimness. It not only saved him the trouble of attending confession, it also relaxed him to know that he could be as mendaciloquent as he wanted and didn’t have to keep track of where he had left off.

Miss Tablemint also knew by instinct that the cad was more salesman and aspiring gigolo than scholar.

Out of boredom that Saturday, (with Miss T. at an audition), the cad taught the milkmaid to write, “You are always right and should never change your ways, or even try to,” in Latin. She asked him to teach her to write, “I would like to join your book group at the pub,” (she thought they discussed books at the book group) but he declined.

Nobody in the milkmaid’s lineage had even been able to sign his or her name—and so she was impressed that her cad could write the entire English, Greek, Latin, and Old Persian alphabets, and also knew pictographs. Surely such a learned man was already half an angel. Surely such a man was good enough to be allowed to touch, even to carry, her precious milk pails.

"Cad man," said the milkmaid at sunrise on Sunday. "Would you please fetch me that pail by the sill?" For surely you are worthy of touching my livelihood, my dear, she thought.

The cad looked at the milkmaid and scowled. Did her voice not ring like an anvil on the stone? Did it not clang? Unlike Miss Tablemint's voice, which was flour and butter and cried out, "I am pliable!" the Milkmaid's voice was forged in something too strong for his taste at the moment.

"I?" he said. "I? Carry a pail? And what would you have me do next? Re-stuff the mattress? Build you a table? Listen for the cow bells? Attend one of those ghastly May-pole dances? Eat sweet meats, which you know I despise? Shrew! Harridan! Insufferable, tyrannical woman!" He stomped his booted foot. "I've had enough of your demands for one day!

The milkmaid said not a word as the cad lurched out the door and into the lane. Oh, Timmy, she thought. There you go, again.

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