I realize this morning’s post was probably a bit of a snooze for people who haven’t read The Rise of Silas Lapham (even though the novel itself is not a snooze–I’ve been flying through the last hundred pages this afternoon and evening), so this evening I decided to write something more fun, or something that at least nerds like me will consider fun.
I was thinking earlier about the two fictional characters I’m most in love with. One, Sam Gamgee, I’ve loved since I first read The Lord of the Rings at age 13; the other, Neville Longbottom, I’ve loved for a shorter time but no less fervently (I have a larger-than-life-sized representation of him in glossy cardboard). The similarities between the two are significant: both appear somewhat incompetent on first impression but turn out to be undeniably capable and even heroic, and both have a knack for botany (or Herbology, in Neville’s case). Also, now that I think of it, both are intimidated by angry wizards. But who wouldn’t be?
Based on these ideal figures, I’ve compiled a list for the reference of any guy who may, for whatever reason, want to impress me.
1. I would be really impressed if you could slay something, preferably something that urgently demands to be slain, such as a squadron of orcs or a snake that’s actually a Horcrux.
2. You need to be able to locate plants with magical properties in case I need them in an emergency. For example, if I am stabbed by a Morgul blade, I will need you to find me some athelas, also known as kingsfoil. Or, if I need to spend a prolonged period of time underwater (I was thinking about visiting the Titanic site with James Cameron), I will require gillyweed.
3. It would also be nice if you had some skill with regular, non-magical plants, particularly edible plants like po-ta-toes and strawberries (do you remember the taste of strawberries, Mr. Frodo?). Here Sam has a decided advantage over Neville. I guess it’s possible that Neville is cultivating a little kitchen garden next to his venomous tentacula plants, but we know for a fact that Sam cooks (unintentional 1960s popular music reference!). But if we’re talking about advantages and disadvantages, let’s be fair: Neville owns a pair of shoes. Also, Neville is human; technically, Sam is not. But this isn’t a competition.
4. If you have a domineering older person in your life, such as your old Gaffer or your Gran, you will always have someone whose good opinion you strive to live up to or whose poor opinion you strive to prove wrong. This will play a large part in your emerging heroism.
5. I don’t mind if you say lots of ridiculous things; in fact, I will probably find it endearing. But try to come up with at least one awesome line to deliver at a tense moment. For example, if someone asks you how your parents are, try saying, “Better, now they’re about to be avenged.” Or, here’s one that works in all kinds of different situations: “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”
Well, that should give you something to work with. If you think you could live up to my exacting standards, and especially if you’ve ever had your Remembrall stolen or gotten excited about seeing an oliphant, please inquire.