Monday, June 29, 2015

Pulchritude

In Shakespeare's classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, Juliet gives voice to her frustration that the man she loves is a son of a rival house. She a Capulet, he a Montague, but she argues

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Poor Juliet truly believes in her heart that the name of something does not affect its beauty or its value. A rose would be just a beautiful to look upon and its scent would still be a welcome sweetness regardless of whether it is called a rose or twedgarkin puddledump. Poor Juliet, poor deluded Juliet. With holding to misconceptions like this, is it any wonder that she died so young and by her own hand?

The classic counter-example of names that doom someone to the "Ugh-list" are Bertha, Gertrude, Beulah, and Hortense. Have you ever met a woman with any of these names that did not look like a Rubenesque version of a wart-covered Michelin man? Have you ever heard some old-timey geezer refer to his woman as "handsome". That only makes me think that he married some barnyard goat some 50-odd years ago. What about describing the love of your life as having a pulchritudinous glow? I should think that you would immediately be deserving of a wonk upside the head with a heavily laden handbag. You might even get the follow up kick to the Quaker Oats on your way down. Actually, after you return from the emergency room and your vision has returned to normal, you might try to explain to your beloved that pulchritude means beauty. To make up for your unnecessary foray into erudition, you might quote poetry to your still brooding but rueful mate. Something from like

"She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies"


When she looks at you like your dog Patches when you try to explain the foundations of quantum mechanics, you can tell her that it is from Byron with just the slightest bit of condescension in your voice. On second thought, maybe you should just banish all such thoughts and be happy that anyone would ever want to have anything to do with you.