by Bill Nye

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Public Domain Books

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<h2>Answers to Correspondents</h2><p style=

Caller–Your calling cards should be modest as to size and neatly engraved, with an extra flourish.

In calling, there are two important things to be considered: First, when to call, and, second, when to rise and hang on the door handle.

Some make one-third of the call before rising, and then complete the call while airing the house and holding the door open, while others consider this low and vulgar, making at least one-fourth of the call in the hall, and one-half between the front door and the gate. Different authorities differ as to the proper time for calling. Some think you should not call before 3 or after 5 P.M., but if you have had any experience and had ordinary sense to start with, you will know when to call as soon as you look at your hand.

Amateur Prize Fighter.–The boxing glove is a large upholstered buckskin mitten, with an abnormal thumb and a string by which it is attached to the wrist, so that when you feed it to an adversary he cannot swallow it and choke himself. There are two kinds of gloves, viz., hard gloves and soft gloves.

I once fought with soft gloves to a finish with a young man who was far my inferior intellectually, but he exceeded me in brute force and knowledge of the use of the gloves. He was not so tall, but he was wider than myself. Longitudinally he was my inferior, but latitudinally he outstripped me. We did not fight a regular prize-fight. It was just done for pleasure. But I do not think we should abandon ourselves entirely to pleasure. It is enervating, and makes one eye swell up and turn blue.

I still think that a young man ought to have a knowledge of the manly art of self-defense, and if I could acquire such a knowledge without getting into a fight about it I would surely learn how to defend myself.

The boxing glove is worn on the hand of one party, and on the gory nose of the other party as the game progresses. Soft gloves very rarely kill anyone, unless they work down into the bronchial tubes and shut off the respiration.

Lecturer, New York City.–You need not worry so much about your costume until you have written your lecture, and it would be a good idea to test the public a little, if possible, before you do much expensive printing. Your idea seems to be that a man should get a fine lithograph of himself and a $100 suit of clothes, and then write his lecture to fit the lithograph and the clothes. That is erroneous.

You say that you have written a part of your lecture, but do not feel satisfied with it. In this you will no doubt find many people will agree with you.

You could wear a full dress suit of black with propriety, or a Prince Albert coat, with your hand thrust into the bosom of it. I once lectured on the subject of phrenology in the southern portion of Utah, being at that time temporarily busted, but still hoping to tide over the dull times by delivering a lecture on the subject of “Brains, and how to detect their presence.” I was not supplied with a phrenological bust at that time, and as such a thing is almost indispensable, I borrowed a young man from Provost and induced him to act as bust for the evening. He did so with thrilling effect, taking the entire gross receipts of the lecture course from my coat pocket while I was illustrating the effect of alcoholic stimulants on the raw brain of an adult in a state of health.

You can remove spots of egg from your full dress suit with ammonia and water, applied by means of a common nail brush. You do not ask for this recipe, but, judging from your style, I hope that it may be of use to you.

Martin F. Tupper, Texas.–The poem to which you allude was written by Julia A. Moore, better known as the Sweet Singer of Michigan. The last stanza was something like this:

“My childhood days are past and gone, And it fills my heart with pain, To think that youth will nevermore Return to me again. And now, kind friends, what I have wrote, I hope you will pass o’er And not criticise as some has hitherto here– before done.”

Miss Moore also wrote a volume of poems which the farmers of Michigan are still using on their potato bugs. She wrote a large number of poems, all more or less saturated with grief and damaged syntax. She is now said to be a fugitive from justice. We should learn from this that we cannot evade the responsibility of our acts, and those who write obituary poetry will one day be overtaken by a bob-tail sleuth hound or a Siberian nemesis with two rows of teeth.

Alonzo G., Smithville.–Yes, you can learn three card monte without a master. It is very easy. The book will cost you twenty-five cents and then you can practice on various people. The book is a very small item, you will find, after you have been practicing awhile. Three card monte and justifiable homicide go hand in hand. 2. You can turn a jack from the bottom of the pack in the old sledge, if you live in some States, but west of the Missouri the air is so light that men who have tried it have frequently waked up on the shore of eternity with a half turned jack in their hand, and a hole in the cerebellum the size of an English walnut.

You can get “Poker and Three Card Monte without a Master” for sixty cents, with a coroner’s verdict thrown in. If you contemplate a career as a monte man, you should wear a pair of low, loose shoes that you can kick off easily, unless you want to die with your boots on.

Henry Ubet, Montana.–No, you are mistaken in your assumption that Socrates was the author of the maxim to which you allude. It is of more modern origin, and, in fact, the sentence of which you speak, viz: “What a combination of conflicting and paradoxical assertions is life? Of what use are logic and argument when we find the true inwardness of the bologna sausage on the outside?” were written by a philosopher who is still living. I am willing to give Socrates credit for what he has said and done, but when I think of a sentiment that is worthy to be graven on a monolith and passed on down to prosperity, I do not want to have it attributed to such men as Socrates.

Leonora Vivian Gobb, Oleson’s Forks, Ariz.–Yes. You can turn the front breadths, let out the tucks in the side plaiting and baste on a new dagoon where you caught the oyster stew in your lap at the party. You could also get trusted for a new dress, perhaps. But that is a matter of taste. Some dealers are wearing their open accounts long this winter and some are not. Do as you think best about cleaning the dress. Benzine will sometimes eradicate an oyster stew from dress goods. It will also eradicate everyone in the room at the same time. I have known a pair of rejuvenated kid gloves to break up a funeral that started out with every prospect of success. Benzine is an economical thing to use, but socially it is not up to the standard. Another idea has occurred to me, however. Why not riprap the skirt, calk the solvages, readjust the box plaits, cat stitch the crown sheet, file down the gores, sandpaper the gaiters and discharge the dolman. You could then wear the garment anywhere in the evening, and half the people wouldn’t know anything had happened to it.

James, Owatonna, Minn.–You can easily teach yourself to play on the tuba. You know what Shakespeare says: “Tuba or not tuba? That’s the question.”

How true this is? It touches every heart. It is as good a soliliquy as I ever read. P.S.–Please do not swallow the tuba while practicing and choke yourself to death. It would be a shame for you to swallow a nice new tuba and cast a gloom over it so that no one else would ever want to play on it again.

Florence.–You can stimulate your hair by using castor oil three ounces, brandy one ounce. Put the oil on the sewing machine, and absorb the brandy between meals. The brandy will no doubt fly right to your head and either greatly assist your hair or it will reconcile you to your lot. The great attraction about brandy as a hair tonic is, that it should not build up the thing. If you wish, you may drink the brandy and then breathe hard on the scalp. This will be difficult at first but after awhile it will not seem irksome.

Great Sacrifice of Bric-a-brac.

Parties desiring to buy a job-lot of garden tools, will do well to call and examine my stock. These implements have been but slightly used, and are comparatively as good as new. The lot consists in part of the following:

One three-cornered hoe, Gothic in its architecture and in good running order. It is the same one I erroneously hoed up the carnation with, and may be found, I think, behind the barn, where I threw it when I discovered my error. Original cost of hoe, six bits. Will be closed out now at two bits to make room for new goods.

Also one garden rake, almost as good as new. One front tooth needs filling, and then it will be as good as ever. I sell this weapon, not so much to get rid of it, but because I do not want it any more. I shall not garden any next spring. I do not need to. I began it to benefit my health, and my health is now so healthy that I shall not require the open-air exercise incident to gardening any more. In fact, I am too robust, if anything. I will, therefore, acting upon the advice of my royal physician, close this rake out, since the failure of the Northwestern Car Company, at 50 cents on the dollar.

Also one lawn-mower, only used once. At that time I cut down what grass I had on my lawn, and three varieties of high-priced rose bushes. It is one of the most hardy open-air lawn-mowers now made. It will outlive any other lawn-mower, and be firm and unmoved when all the shrubbery has gone to decay. You can also mow your peony bed with it, if you desire. I tried it. This is also an easy running lawn-mower, I would recommend it to any man who would like to soak his lawn with perspiration. I mowed my lawn, and then pushed a street-car around in the afternoon to relax my over-strained muscles. I will sacrifice this lawn-mower at three-quarters of its original cost, owing to depression in the stock of the New Jerusalem gold mine, of which I am a large owner and cashier-at-large.

Will also sell a bright new spade, only used two hours spading for angle-worms. This is a good, early-blooming and very hardy angle-worm spade, built in the Doric style of architecture. Persons desiring a spade flush, and lacking one spade to “fill,” will do well to give me a call. No trouble to show the goods.

I will also part with a small chest of carpenter’s tools, only slightly used. I had intended to do a good deal of amateur carpenter work this summer, but, as the presidential convention occurs in June, and I shall have to attend to that, and as I have already sawed up a Queen Anne chair, and thoughtlessly sawed into my leg, I shall probably sacrifice the tools. These tools are all well made, and I do not sell them to make money on them, but because I have no use for them. I feel as though these tools would be safer in the hands of a carpenter. I’m no carpenter. My wife admitted that when I sawed a board across the piano-stool and sawed the what-do-you-call-it all out of the cushion.

Anyone desiring to monkey with the carpenter’s trade, will do well to consult my catalogue and price-list. I will throw in a white holly corner-bracket, put together with fence nails, and a rustic settee that looks like the Cincinnati riot. Young men who do not know much, and invalids whose minds have become affected, are cordially invited to call and examine goods. For a cash trade I will also throw in arnica, court-plaster and salve enough to run the tools two weeks, if ordinary care be taken.

If properly approached, I might also be wheedled into sacrificing an easy-running domestic wheelbarrow. I have domesticated it myself and taught it a great many tricks.


Biography of Spartacus  •  Concerning Book Publishing  •  A Calm  •  The Story of a Struggler  •  The Old Subscriber  •  My Dog  •  A Picturesque Picnic  •  Taxidermy  •  The Ways of Doctors  •  Absent Minded  •  Woman’s Wonderful Influence  •  Causes for Thanksgiving  •  Farming in Maine  •  Doosedly Dilatory  •  Every Man His Own Paper-Hanger  •  Sixty Minutes in America  •  Rev. Mr. Hallelujah’s Hoss  •  Somnambulism and Crime  •  Modern Architecture  •  Letter to a Communist  •  The Warrior’s Oration  •  The Holy Terror  •  Boston Common and Environs  •  Drunk in a Plug Hat  •  Spring  •  The Duke of Rawhide  •  Etiquette at Hotels  •  Fifteen Years Apart  •  Dessicated Mule  •  Time’s Changes  •  Crowns and Crowned Heads  •  My Physician  •  All About Oratory  •  A Spencerian Ass  •  Anecdotes of Justice  •  The Chinese God  •  A Great Spiritualist  •  General Sheridan’s Horse  •  A Circular  •  The Photograph Habit  •  Rosalinde  •  The Church Debt  •  A Collection of Keys  •  Extracts from a Queen’s Diary  •  Shorts  •  A Mountain Snowstorm  •  Lost Money  •  Dr. Dizart’s Dog  •  Chinese Justice  •  Answers to Correspondents  •  A Convention  •  Come Back  •  A New Play  •  The Silver Dollar  •  Polygamy as a Religious Duty  •  The Newspaper  •  Anecdotes of the Stage  •  George the Third  •  The Cell Nest  •  Parental Advice  •  The Indian Orator  •  Plato  •  The Expensive Word  •  Petticoats at the Polls  •  The Sedentary Hen  •  A Bright Future for Pugilism  •  The Snake Indian  •  Roller Skating  •  No More Frontier  •  A Letter of Regrets  •  Venice  •  She Kind of Coaxed Him  •  Answering an Invitation  •  Street Cars and Curiosities  •  The Poor Blind Pig  •  Daniel Webster  •  Two Ways of Telling It  •  All About Menials  •  A Powerful Speech  •  A Goat in a Frame  •  To a Married Man  •  To an Embryo Poet  •  Eccentricities of Genius

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