M. Giant's
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Sunday, November 14, 2010  

In Defense of Dear Henry

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who divide the world's population into two imaginary categories and people who don't. I've always been in the latter, but lately I've been wondering if I don't fall into the former. Of course there are liberals and conservatives, lovers and fighters, taste greats and less fillings, but what if there are also Dear Henrys and Dear Lizas?

You may recall this dysfunctional couple from Sesame Street. He informs her (in song), that there's a hole in the bucket. She tells him to fix it. He asks with what. She tells him to use a stick. But the stick's too big, and the axe is too dull to whittle it, and he can't sharpen it because the sharpening stone is too dry, and he can't get any water for the stone because there's a freaking hole in the freaking bucket!



Dear Henry is, no doubt, a moron and buffoon, and he's deliberately played that way. He's utterly befuddled by every tiny obstacle that's thrown his way, and makes Dear Liza have to be the one to solve all of his problems. What good is he, after all?

But me, I sometimes wonder if maybe Dear Henry isn't getting a bad rap. Let's look at it a different way. Perhaps Dear Henry is just trying to communicate, rather than giving up and retreating to his man-cave (which, given the setting, is probably a literal cave). He's telling Dear Liza, look, here's this problem we have, and I'd be following all of your suggestions but look at the problems there. Meanwhile, Dear Liza sits on her ass in her rocking chair, not contributing anything useful to the process but an increasingly pissy mood. She expects stuff to just happen, like Dilbert's pointy-headed boss, without regard for how it's going to get done; it's Dear Henry who actually has to live in the real world, dealing with the facts on the ground.

And yes, maybe Dear Henry was careless in letting his axe get dull. Living out on the frontier like that, it's borderline dangerous. And also, what kind of woods are they living in where the sticks only come in one size?

But maybe Dear Henry is smarter than he seems. Maybe this is his way of getting Dear Liza to appreciate the daily challenges he faces. Maybe this was all some kind of clever Socratic trap set for Dear Liza, so carefully laid that he's been spending the last several weeks chopping copper pipes in half just to make the blade on his axe as dull as he seems, and then using the jagged metal stumps to bore holes in their pail. And Dear Liza walks right into it. In which case Dear Henry's a passive-aggressive psychopath, drawing Dear Liza unwittingly into a murder/suicide pact whereby the lack of any means to fetch, carry, or collect water will kill them both by this time next week. But that doesn't make him an idiot.

So where does that leave Dear Liza? At best she's a quick-thinking problem-solver, at worst she's a shortsighted harridan, at middle she's an unwitting pawn in Dear Henry's mindgames. Where you fall on that question is probably a function of whether you see yourself as a Dear Liza or a Dear Henry.

But who ever heard of fixing a bucket with a stick, anyway? I mean, honestly.

posted by M. Giant 3:01 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

I love this song and sing it far too often for my childrens' tastes.

I'm most assuredly a Dear Liza and feel certain that Dear Henry knows exactly how to fix that bucket but is playing dumb so Dear Liza will give in and do the bucket-fixing and bucket-filling for him so he can just go watch the game already.

By Blogger lar, at November 15, 2010 at 11:00 AM  

A passive-aggressive psychopath and a short-sighted harridan. Hahahahahahahaha. Please will you do more nursery rhyme translations?

By Blogger trash, at November 21, 2010 at 1:37 PM  

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