So we all know that old saying about disguises right? The one that warns us that if we hide behind a mask for long enough, we become the thing which we pretend to be. I think it goes something like this: “Stop pulling that face dear, or it’ll get stuck that way.” Well, Sir Hudibras never suspected that the effect of hiding behind his nom de plume would be so fast-acting. Merely one week after adopting the name of Low Burlesque’s answer to Mr. Bean, my humiliating misadventures have already begun.

And so it goes: Once upon a time Sir Hudibras was embarking on a short quest. Montreal to Toronto by horseless carriage, then Toronto to Vancouver (round trip) on Ye Olde Air Myles, and then back to Montreal.

All was going well, in terms of humiliation, until the second leg of the trip; apparently the fellow who was meant to be seated beside Sir H. was attempting to evade criminal charges, but had been convinced to leave the seat vacant, in favour of more spacious seating arrangements in jail, by the helpful Air Canada staff. This left old Hudibras mercifully free to stretch out his weary questing legs. 

So far, so good.

Legs akimbo, Sir Hudibras opened, with the utmost dignity, his copy of The Dore Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Page after page of gory high-art unfolded beneath his eyes. The hurricane of the Lustful, the headless Bertram de Born, and the Blasphemers, scorched under a rain of fire. Neat stuff. Visual poetry at its depraved best. No cause for humiliation here.

But then…. oh then. Sir Hudibras looked up, and what should he see but a sweetly disheveled family headed his way, flanked by a stewardess, heralding the end of his fortuitous comfort.

“Would you mind if this precious little girl sat down next to you?” she asked. Then, turning to the precious girl in question, she asked “You’d like to sit down next to this nice man, wouldn’t you?”

Nice man looked at precious girl. Precious girl looked at nice man. He tried a wan smile. She wasn’t buying it. He confirmed that he was a nice man. She scraped her buckled shoes on the carpet. He promised not to bother her for the whole flight. She seemed to like that, and tried a wan smile of her own. He shifted in his seat to let her sit down. Her eyes fell on his book.

It was all over.

Sir Hudibras imagined how the dismembered corpses in Dore’s hell must have swum under her eyes as they filled with tears. And then the whimpering. And then the wailing. And then the a shrieking even the erinnys could be proud of.

“How humiliating,” Sir Hudibras thought, as he stretched his weary questing legs back over the empty seat.