Dublin Press reporter interviews Dreams in the Distance Phila Claiborne
Reporter – How’s it looking for tonight Ms. Claiborne?
Phila – As in a date? Surely you jest. As in young men knocking my father’s door down to court me? I’m plain, pudgy, and percipient, with insane frizzy red hair, a riot of freckles, no fashion sense, an intellect that petrifies the male sex, and a photographic mind that makes me a victor in any contest. What kind of chap will run barefoot over cut glass to date me?
Reporter – It can’t be all that bad. You have an amusing sense of humor and pleasing personality.
Phila – And a father who is an earl who hasn’t been made destitute by the Crown’s death taxes. Oh, that attracts men, of course, homely second and third sons of lesser lords who have no inheritance and little influence.
Reporter – Well then, what kind of a man are you looking for?
Phila – A tall, dark, and handsome Prince Charming or knight in shining armor, of course.
Reporter – Are there any of those still around?
Phila – You mean after Cinderella and Snow White captured theirs?
Reporter – Well, yes. Surely the UK is brimming with handsome young nobles? And at Oxford?
Phila – One hopes . . . and dreams. There’s this, not so tall, but dark and handsome chap I rather fancy, but he’s dating this virago who is decidedly possessive. He is a barrister. Would I love to steal him away from Jacquie.
Reporter – You’d really try?
Phila – Of course. I pinned bay leaves on my pillow and actually dreamed of Todd last night. I wrote his name on pieces of paper and stuck them to clay balls which I dropped in water, but none of the papers rose to the top. Dash it all.
Reporter – I’ve heard of some of those Valentine’s traditions and wondered if any really worked.
Phila – There are sillier ones like eating yokeless eggs with salt. They taste insipid. And what’s worse, the first bird I saw today was a blackbird. Me marry a clergyman? Like my granny?
Reporter – Blackbird? Clergyman?
Phila – Legend has it the first winged creature one sees on the 14th predicts the type of man one marries. Ready? Dove, a mate for life; sparrow, a poor man; robin, a sailor or crime fighter; goldfinch, a millionaire; bluebird, someone happy; owl, one remains a spinster.
Reporter -And blackbird a clergyman?
Phila– My grandpapa was a Scottish Presbyterian minister, granny an Irish Catholic. Mum said their life was fiery. But granny was a saint. I am not.
Reporter – Do you believe any of these traditions have any merit?
Phila – Not too much so far. Probably the most eminent is the tradition of the first eligible male one meets on St Valentine’s Day one is supposed to eventually marry.
Reporter – I’ve heard of that one.
Phila – I dashed down to the High Street hoping the first chap I encountered would be my prince, but the first bloke I laid eyes on was this giant Scot I see in Mr. Lewis’s and Professor Tolkien’s lectures. He’s not at all handsome, old like my brother Hugh, wears an old worn Army jacket, and, of all things, has red hair. Why would I ever be attracted to a bloke with red hair like mine? We’d have ugly giant children with icky red hair, be covered with freckles, and I’d have live in frigid uncivilized Scotland. So much for that tradition.
Lily – Excuse me, but Phila has practiced these superstitions for years. She’s only discounting them because they’re not showing the results she’d like.
Phila – Easy for you to say. You don’t even have to crook your little finger and you have men throwing themselves at you.
Lily – Oh Phil, there are more important things than men and romance.
Phila – You had two suitors ask for your hand last year.
Lily – They were both missionaries leaving for China and India.
Phila – They both did ask.
Reporter – Ladies, ladies. You are best friends I believe. Ms. Whitely, who was the first chap you saw today?
Lily – Giggle. That’s a laugh. It was Phil’s brother. I delivered a suit I had redone for her mother and she invited me in for a cup of tea. What a surprise, Hugh home from the States.
Phila – I didn’t know he was home. Oh ho, you’ll marry Hugh.
Lily – That’ll be the day.
Reporter – Did you see any birds this morning?
Lily – More giggles. As a matter of fact, there were two birds kind of fighting on a branch in the park.
Phila – And?
Lily – Oh Phil. A bluebird and a robin.
Phila – A happy sailor. Like I said, you’re going to marry Hugh.
Lily – Hugh is not a sailor, he’s naval intelligence, and if I’d describe your brother, it would be proper and stuffy, not happy.
Reporter – I suppose we all will have to read the novels to see how your lives and romances will out and if these superstitions have merit.