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The Pathos of Everyday Life 4 (“Но с хорошенькими мисс/Я иду на компромисс!”)

Some readers of this blog will remember the staircase wit, my father’s Uncle Misha, whose life was saved after the Russian Revolution through the intervention of a waiter whom he was in the habit of tipping generously during his frequent visits to the Hotel Continental in Kiev (v. “Discontinuous Lexica,” July 16th, 2009). Among the numerous pieces of doggerel verse in Russian he excogitated for his family’s enjoyment was one that included the following closing couplet: “Но с хорошенькими мисс/Я иду на компромисс!” (But with good-looking misses/I reach a compromise.)

In alignment notionally with the preceding post in the series, these two rhyming lines came to mind when Y-H-B was sitting in a barber’s chair this morning and heard the barber say to a young woman who had walked in and was looking around for reading material while waiting her turn to be shorn: “The magazines are over there, miss.” The one word “miss” immediately triggered a remembrance of Uncle Misha and his doggerel, followed by an approving glance at the young lady’s svelte figure and the mental congeries it prompted via the word’s rhyme fellow.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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