Charley Githler

Charley Githler 

It’s been quite a two weeks since the last column. For one thing, the Queen of England died, which apparently came as a shock to a lot of people. The words “died unexpectedly” don’t often figure into the obituaries of people who pass away at age 96, but whatever. Some of my more democratic-minded friends have ruminated on the fact that she was a world figure only because of the family into which she was born. She won (I guess) the accident-of-birth lottery. All of which is true, but she handled it well and carried off being a figurehead with aplomb and seemliness for a really long time. I can’t manage aplomb for more than a couple hours, and she did it from when Harry Truman was president until last week.

Also since the last column, I was jolted out of my everyday reverie by a television commercial for a product called the Ballsy B2 Ball Trimmer. It’s what it sounds like, and it’s a real commercial on real television. “Here at Ballsy, we know how hard it is to trim your balls.” I’m afraid that is a direct quote. The spokesperson holds nothing back as she carries on about the product’s many features in details that would make Dirk Diggler blush and signs off by declaring that “here at Ballsy, we know balls.” I’ve long since surrendered to the reality that advertising copywriters are trying to kill us, but are there literally no lines left? Is there nothing that is beyond the bounds of good taste? I’m really not an excessively modest person. I just want to live in a world where the condition of one’s testicles remains the exclusive province of one’s self, one’s partner, and Dr. Vohra.

My point is that as long as Queen Elizabeth II was alive, I knew that there was at least one other person who would also be staring in transfixed horror at the TV if she were sitting in my living room. King Charles III, even as big a stiff as he is, is not that person. It wasn’t that long ago (1989, to be exact) that we were all treated to a recording of a telephone conversation in which His Majesty the King expressed a fervent desire to be one of Her Majesty the Queen Consort Camilla’s tampons. There’s no forgetting that, Sire. And we need not go into sordid detail about his brother Prince Andrew, now Keeper of the Royal Corgis.

Sure, the monarchy is an antiquated institution, thoroughly steeped in a history of imperialism and part of a centuries-old caste system. We ditched it in the 1770s, and if they dismantled it this afternoon I wouldn’t bat an eye. (That being said, it’s been 337 years since England last had a King Charles, and as a fellow Charles, I have to say that’s just too long.)

The Thwaites Glacier, a/k/a the ‘Doomsday Glacier’, is poised to disintegrate, and when it does it seems likely to raise sea levels by 25 inches over the course of six months. Like if it happens this week, the oceans will rise two feet by March. (I’m going somewhere with this.) That’s the kind of news we’re treated to these days. There are ads for ball trimmers on television. More Americans can identify an image of Kim Kardashian than one of Ben Franklin. And then there was Elizabeth II, who promised 75 years ago on her 21st birthday, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service,” and never once broke that promise. She lived her life for other people, according to her own lights, and that made her an island of integrity and grace in the rising sea of horrors that is today’s world. I’m going to miss having her around.

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