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April 20, 2004

Pearls of Wisdom

Dear Lila Pearl,

Recently, all of the gentlemen in the College bearing my prenom received an electronic missive from a young lady, informing one of us who is "in music" and "has the gorgeous hands" that there exists a corner of our great university which is consistently deserted after a certain afternoon hour. What am I to do? What if she's, well, ugly? My reason tells me that only a confident person would write such a letter and attractive people are often confident. But then again, maybe she's "fugly" and just "got some" often enough to have some modicum of self-assuredness. Or maybe still, it's all a joke at my expense, and a friend of mine—some friend—has concocted this plot to make a buffoon of me, appearing, camera and all, right at the moment I attempt to taste of this guilty pleasure.

So, Lila, please help,

A Musician with Beautiful Hands

Dear Beautiful,

Seduction is a tricky game. Here's the point, as far as Lila Pearl is concerned: Many people plan odd seductions but few in fact carry them through. Leave behind your beauty/beast debate (which can be determined in a glance anyway) and ask: How creepy might this lady be with whom I am about to meet and spend an afternoon in a deserted classroom? Lila Pearl's thoughts on creepy lovers? She doesn't dig them. On the other hand, if you're feeling, er…hard-up and curious, why not go for it? All you have to lose is your mind.

Winningly,

Lila Pearl

Dear Lila Pearl,

I'm reading Anna Karenina, and it's just too heartbreaking to go on. What will happen to her? Meanwhile, my boyfriend just dumped me—if an acquaintance asks me "How are you?" and I've just had my heart broken, what can I say to him/her? Does anyone still care about etiquette???

—Despairing

Dear Despairing,

A maiden walked many weary miles until at last she came to a mountain of ice. She crawled into the cave there and walked to the chamber of fire. She was frightened, but entered. "Salamander," she asked, "do you know of a kingdom east of the sun and west of the moon, and do you know of a youth who is to marry the troll princess there?"

"I know what is in your heart and the heart of the youth, and I know your hearts are breaking." The Salamander whispered and sighed, "But this kingdom does not lie within the fiery heart that I know. All I know of this kingdom is that it is east of the sun and west of the moon, and if you reach it you will not find a welcome within."

Does anyone care about etiquette anymore? Ask this instead: Was there one human being in all of Athens? Yes (Socrates), and they killed him. Was there one citizen there? Yes, and they killed him.

If someone asks how you are, why not burst into tears, grab them by the collar, and scream: "How do you THINK I feel, you insensitive shit!" As far as poor Anna's ending goes, Lila Pearl urges you to find your courage. To quote Ever After: A Cinderella Story: "Just breathe."

Endlessly,

Lila Pearl

Oh My Lila Pearl,

My illegitimate lover is interested in involving my cats in…well, sex. I have to admit, I too am a little curious, and the cats seem willing. My lover and I have talked extensively about embarking on some type of sexual journey, but we're not sure if this is it. Any suggestions?

Hugs and kittens,

In the Box with Schrödinger's Cat

Dear Boxed,

Now, although Lila Pearl hates to travel, she goes a lot of places ("a pretext for travel [travel justifies dread; other places really are terrible]"). And she's noted: There is always that moment, when you stare into a silvery drain, imagine the heartbreak of Anna Karenina, begin to cry, then with a shiver of alfear (uncontrollable fear caused by elves) realize:

You don't remember me at all, do you?

Sexual journeys are great, but (Lila Pearl gently urges) give up the cats unless you like claw marks in your tender areas, and rabies.

Uncertainly,

Lila Pearl

Have a question for Lila Pearl? E-mail her at lila@uchicago.edu.