To Mistake a Classic for Erotica

They both savored the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant of ordinary things ~ Terry Pratchett

“It’s not his hobby, Sister Madly.”

He just said that he loves his job, Professor, and when you love your job, you don’t work a day in your life. By this definition, it IS his hobby.


Now, Sister Madly has always been wary of anyone the Professors call a ‘friend’ and this time, she had good reason to be: he was chatty and he was happy. Too happy. Frolicking with the tumbleweed happy- and all without a nip of cider. That’s what makes it sinister- that, and the maniacal good cheer with which he announced that he was a phlebotomist.*

*In layman’s terms, a giant mosquito.

Then again, perhaps that is the secret to his sinister happiness: draining a large portion of his blood to the point of mental absurdity in the name of good times. Or perhaps he gets his jollies by mixing blood types like some gruesome, vascular cocktail. Whatever his secret, this psychotic bliss was reinforced later that night simply by coming upon Sister Madly’s copy of Maugham’s Of Human Bondage.

“You like this sort of thing, do you?”

TAB cola 80s

She couldn’t help but wonder what, exactly, the Happy Phlebotomist meant by ‘this sort of thing.’ True, it wasn’t the sort of book her mother would read to a young Sister Madly while they shared a bottle of TAB, but her mother wasn’t one to read her The Runaway Bunny either. Perhaps the Happy Phlebotomist didn’t much care for the author, or perhaps it was the implication that Sister Madly likes to read books out of season. Of Human Bondage always seemed like a book one reads in the winter.

Of course it is possible to read any book at any time of the year, but unless you are some sort of literary rogue, here is a small sample of the appropriate seasonal fare:

A Confederacy of Dunces
Bonjour Tristesse
The Magus
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
The Moon and Sixpence
Three Men in a Boat

While the Happy Phlebotomist found this ‘seasonal reading’ slightly baffling, he was a sight more tolerant than the Professors were upon learning that Sister Madly arranges her DVDs according to ambiance instead of alphabetically. She doesn’t understand all the fuss- after all, she knows where to find everything. That’s all that really matters.*

*There are also many people who listen to music according to season- her neighbors, for example. They always listen to Christmas music in the winter. Loudly.

great story

Not that the Professors should cast any stones. Sister Madly has not only seen them eat lettuce, she has seen them enjoy the process– a sure sign that something is not quite right in the head.

Now over the course of her acquaintance with the Professors, they have taken it upon themselves to lend her books that they think she should read, rather than books they think she would enjoy. So it was something of a shock when the Happy Phlebotomist approached her with a copy of The Story of O, for no reason other than “you seem to like this sort of thing.”

And by ‘this sort of thing,’ the Happy Phlebotomist meant erotic literature.

“Since you were reading that book on human bondage…”

of human bondage

Perhaps Sister Madly is just naïve- or perhaps it’s because her hobby isn’t the gleeful draining of blood out of living individuals- but the possibility of Of Human Bondage being some sort of literary porn never once crossed her mind the day she found it in the bookstore. She was just intrigued by a book whose title started with the word ‘Of.’

According to the obligatory new book flip-thru (and later confirmed through the internet) The Story of O was originally published in the 1950‘s and was somewhat influenced by the works of the Marquis de Sade- which is a far, far cry from the themes found in Of Human Bondage.

You see, the title Of Human Bondage is taken from Part IV of Spinoza’s Ethics, entitled “Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of Emotions” in which Spinoza speaks of people’s inability to control their emotions (the emotions themselves, not one’s conscious response to them) which constitutes bondage. The crux of Maugham’s story is the unrequited love of Philip Carey, which binds him to a rather disagreeable* woman- soul ties, and all that.

*Status-seeking, social-climbing, cold-hearted, unfaithful waitress-turned-mistress-turned-hooker-who-contracts-an-STD-most-likely-syphilis type of disagreeable.
Also, she was rude.

runaway bunny

“So it’s about human trafficking?”

Perhaps it was fatigue from reading veins all day, or perhaps it was too much vascular cocktail, but it was obvious that the Happy Phlebotomist was determined not to understand a single word of their conversation. No wonder the Professors were so fond of him.

And so she was about to suggest a book that would do away with his starry-eyed disposition, The Runaway Bunny, as even adults have been known to cry at that story…

… when the Professors interrupted by sending a drink over to her table.


A Bloody Mary.

THEME SONG: Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2


46 responses

  1. Heartafire

    lovely and entertaining write…I adore Bonjour Tristesse!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 5:43 AM

    • Thank you! So glad to encounter a Tristesse fan! ;c)

      Liked by 1 person

      June 2, 2016 at 1:08 PM

      • Heartafire

        I love it, love the movie, watched it not long ago on TMC. *)

        Liked by 1 person

        June 2, 2016 at 2:21 PM

  2. It was a long read, however great post..


    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 6:05 AM

    • Thank you. Obviously, I can get long-winded at times- but I try to stop short of epic!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 2, 2016 at 1:15 PM

      • i wishinn i had that many words, too write
        at one time…


        Liked by 1 person

        June 2, 2016 at 2:24 PM

        • More often than not, the words in my mind don’t translate well when written.
          I envy those who can write something everyday!

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 2:35 PM

        • Funny with me it’s the thoughts within my mind, which i cannot translate into words…


          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 2:54 PM

        • I’ve been there, too.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:05 PM

        • Awe, you got to use the the double “OOs”…



          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 4:22 PM

  3. So I’ve never heard of Of Human Bondage, so I looked it up. Seems depressing and a bit too much like Great Expectations. What a great post, love your humor. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    • It can be depressing, but it’s more often frustrating- you just want to smack the guy upside the head and yell ‘stop trying to date the mean girl!’

      And yet, I still read it.

      And thank you! ;c)

      Liked by 1 person

      June 2, 2016 at 1:19 PM

      • You’re welcome. Yeah, way too much like Great Expectations then. I think I shall pass on this. I’m not sure I need to read every classic. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        June 2, 2016 at 1:33 PM

        • Definitely no need to read every classic. But I wouldn’t say that to an English teacher!

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 1:43 PM

  4. Point of information Ms Madly; My dear Grandmother, bless her heart, was often heard to remark during the salad course, “Would you like the tomatoes up your end?”. Gram never quite understood the laughter. Perhaps this is just the exception that proves no great story started with someone eating a salad.

    Alas, I too have been subjected to literary works other people believe I must read. The last one I was TOLD to read, “The Four Agreements”. This directive did generate an Ibis look. I understand that book is quite popular among the contralto and soprano set and not so much by the baritone and bass players. Then there was the fact that the individual demanding forgot just whom they were talking to!

    Fortunately for people like you and I we can tell those miscreants, “If I want a good story I make one up”. The usual response from the miscreants after the delivery of that statement is “Contemfutzing”. Whether they disbelieve or think I’m crazy, it aint me looking silly!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 6:15 AM

    • So… did you ever say ‘Yes’ to the tomatoes?

      I’m curious- where to the tenors stand on The Four Agreements? And was there a book that you ‘suggested’ in return?

      Liked by 1 person

      June 2, 2016 at 1:56 PM

      • No I never said yes to the tomatoes. I did on occasion suggest whom might like them.

        The tenors stand on the book. Literally they stand on the books. These be some vertically challenged crooners!

        I suggested a few books yes. Books off of my reading list. As it was a woman who TOLD me to read. I thought my suggesting, “Predictably Irrational” was apt.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 2, 2016 at 2:18 PM

        • I’m slightly vertically challenged- is there a 7 Agreements? 4 might not make me tall enough.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 2:45 PM

        • 7 agreements. Hmmmm. Well I could loan you me and 6 friends to carry you on a platform.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 2:52 PM

        • I suppose that will do.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:07 PM

        • Trust me, no one would mess with the ones I have in mind. I checked, “The 4 Horsemen” are in. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:21 PM

        • All four? I thought Famine was busy this weekend.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:32 PM

        • Yes all Four. Change of plans freed him up. Or maybe it was something I said.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:35 PM

        • I hesitate to ask what one can say that would change the mind of one of the 4 Horsemen…

          Hesitation over. What was said?

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:40 PM

        • It really didn’t take much persuading when I explained I’d talked to my angel and my angel said to relay to the reluctant one, “Don’t make me have a constervation with you!”.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:44 PM

        • Yeah, that would do it!

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 3:48 PM

  5. Ha! Well done. I once met a gorgeous woman, very sleek and elegant. She loved her job too….doing make up in a funeral home. I really wanted to like her, but her job, her enthusiasm, I just couldn’t handle it. Now phlebotomists are okay, at least they enjoy interacting with the living! I got to help to out in a clinic once, lots of men, which is why I was there. The teenagers especially, have a tendency to pass out suddenly, so my job was to keep them seated for a few moments so they didn’t have some kind of delayed needle reaction and hit the deck.

    Also, sad to say, but I have no idea what books I should be reading, because I have no idea what season it is right now. We seem to be cycling daily through all four of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 6:47 AM

    • Make up artist for a funeral home… I can see how that might be difficult to handle. But then, what if she had some amazing beauty tips for making one look more alive in the dead of winter? I’m not sure what tips a phlebotomist can offer, aside from not making him mad.

      The weather has been rather schizophrenic lately, which I probably why so many people find themselves reading more than one book at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 2, 2016 at 1:38 PM

  6. I laughed and snorted coffee up my nose
    I will never look at that book/film the same ever again

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    • I think he broke me. I’m starting to look at other books on my shelf, wondering how those titles can be misconstrued!


      June 2, 2016 at 1:13 PM

      • The first obvious one would be Moby Dick

        Liked by 1 person

        June 2, 2016 at 2:18 PM

        • Oh, definitely!

          Maybe THIS is the real reason why literature is taught in schools today!


          June 2, 2016 at 2:26 PM

        • Well we’re on to them…probably should start with something subtle like Persuasion though

          Liked by 1 person

          June 2, 2016 at 2:28 PM

  7. A giant mosquito….ha ha….👍👍😂I would tell that to my phlebotomist when I next “donate” vials for tests😉

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2016 at 3:08 PM

  8. I really like the one about the salad!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 5, 2016 at 4:19 PM

  9. I do so cherish the Spinozian shackles of our bond, dear Sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 11, 2016 at 6:56 AM

    • I cherish a clever comeback and for the life of me cannot think of one- Argh!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 11, 2016 at 2:00 PM

  10. I’ve mistooken the classics for erotica. Ha! I have a hunch the authors meant it that way. 😀 Dracula, for one, and then half the stories of women heaving and huffing their woeful wants. Like the zinger about alcohol starting a good story, below-the-waist tension lights a fire under a fine classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 21, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    • “…a hunch the authors meant it that way.” I believe it. I would have done the same thing back in the day.

      Good stories start with alcohol because bad decisions start with alcohol! ;c)

      Liked by 1 person

      August 22, 2016 at 12:00 AM

  11. I do love your style. Witty, charismatic, and sounding authentically sincere. It was a pleasure to have read a piece of yours. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 15, 2016 at 6:17 PM

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