Thirty days hath September,Dad taught us "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" to remember which way to turn a screwdriver or faucet handle. Old Salt the Sailor taught us, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning." And to this day, even the interns at the P&PC Office can tell the difference between a red, yellow, and black king snake and a red, yellow, and black coral snake (pictured above) not because we're some troop of field biologists, but because we once learned the old rhyme, "Red touches yellow, dangerous fellow. Red touches black, friend to Jack."
April, June, and November;
Thirty-one the others date,
Except in February, twenty-eight;
But in leap year we assign
Freud noticed his grandson playing, with the ring's circular shape troping the child's pleasurable "o-o-o-o" expressed upon discovering items he'd thrown away. Considering the site of the clown ring holder (the kitchen or laundry room in the 1950s), rather than the site of the child's Fort/Da game (the nursery), we can speculate on the nature of this process for the Cold War housewife in particular. In taking off her ring, leaving it on the clown's nose, and finding it later, is she mastering a painful experience of some sort (of being married? of losing the sign and thus status of her marriage?) by reproducing it herself? Or, as other Freudian analysts have suggested of the Fort/Da game, is she responding to a painful experience of some sort (marriage? housework?) by redirecting her anger onto the ring and the clown's woody phallic knob which in some way represent that experience? And to what extent is the grotesque figure of the clown and his Pinocchio nose a stand-in, cartooned version of the male husband and father, whose knob has been made ridiculously large and whose hat has been made ridiculously small? Given how the poem both licenses and instructs the housewife to distance herself from the physical sign of her marriage while doing housework (take off your rings to do your chores, dearie), to what extent does this item thus reveal or manage an anxiety that doing housework over and over (which—as dishes pile up, then get cleaned, only to pile up again—is its own sort of Fort/Da activity) is like getting unmarried over and over again as well? Or that, in order to do housework in the first place, one has to symbolically get unmarried, turning oneself, in an ongoing drama of domestic schizophrenia, from a spouse to a maid, and back again
There isn't a drink snatcher
This side of _ _ _ _
That this little gent
Will fail to smell
Note your name and
Note your drink
And leave the rest to
Michel Foucault (pictured here) might appreciate. Indeed, since the hostess can't be everywhere watching everyone all the time, she has to establish a sort of cocktail party panopticon in which individual guests surveil themselves in the absence of her authority. This happens in part by linking together the drinker (the potential offender) and Pinkerstink (the figure of law enforcement), as both hold glasses (the former is holding a cocktail glass, the latter a magnifying glass); the criminal and the policeman are thus, in this scenario, two sides of the same coin, as the material glass's cylindrical circuit between the picture of Pinkerstink on one side and his written name on the other might dramatize.
in his P&PC posting last September, moments of "censorship" like these give readers the thrill of silently hearing dirty words even though those words have been suppressed by print. The reader, he writes, can "have it both ways: one submits to the censorship of print while evading it in (silent) speech." In the case of the Pinkerstink glass, then, drinkers, too, have it two ways that result in the self discipline the hostess needs her guests to exercise: they are both the offender (saying the dirty word or forgetting one's glass) and the enforcer (leaving the letters blank and thus monitoring one's own behavior and remembering one's glass).