Vol. 8, Issue 2, April 27, 2010
A Question of Identity
There are many reasons for an aging Attorney to take a trip down to the Healthfully arid plains of the American southwest - the beauteous blossoms of the Saguaro cactus not Least among them! However, I also have a Friend who has taken up residence in Phoenix (in part, doubtless, due to the poetic Majesty of the name). Thus I found myself wandering the sunlit Streets of a strange City, in search of a Tobacconist where I might replenish my stock of Pipe-tobacco.
I chanced upon a Police-man, resplendent with his shining badge of Authority, and inquired politely for Directions.
"Excuse me, my good young member of the Constabulary," I said. "I seem to be Down to the last Dottles within my Meerschaum. Might I inquire as to whether there is a suitable Purveyor of Cavendish or Latakia or - dare I say - even a spot of Perique within the local Environs? I would be most Recognizant for any assistance that you might Render me."
The constable peered at me with a surprising amount of Incredulity (or so I surmised, as he was wearing those Mirrored Spectacles that some police-men affect in the Sunnier climes).
"Consta-what?" he said. "What language are you speaking?"
"Ah," I said with a wry smile, "what language am I not speaking? Language is my Business, young man, though I admit I am not as Quick upon my verbal Feet as once I was. To coin a phrase, Phaselus ille, quem videtis, hospites, ait fuisse navium celerrimus; Sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita senet quiete!"
At this routine and rather mild invocation of Catullus, the gentleman, rather than sporting a convivial Smile, or offering some Horace in riposte, adopted a rather Stern expression, to my Surprise.
"That sure isn't English," he said. "You from Latin America?"
"Well," I replied modestly, "I am a cultural citizen of the World; and Latin surely is the Language of the World. Though surely there are Times when Silence is the better part of Valor - for taciturnitas stulto homini pro sapientia est - I nonetheless admit to a Fondness for Elocution, in whatever language I find to Hand."
"I think I'm gonna need to see some I.D.," said the officer, a decidely grim cast to his features. "We got laws now about people who talk funny without proper documentation."
I presented him with my engraved Calling card, and some Letters I happened to have Upon me, and various other Items attesting to my Identity (a signed Photo-graph, an original copy of the Bruce-Partington plans, et cetera). Alas, not even my trademark Walking stick was sufficient to convince the man of my Identity (ridiculous: who else could Possibly imitate the Scrimshaw handle, hand-carved by Uncle Elijah?) And so, as a result, it appears that I have received a free Trip, courtesy of the Arizona State Government, to the great nation of Mexico.
I confess this unanticipated Detour has Importuned me to no small Degree, especially as my Spanish is less than perfect. However, I have found a Wonderful tobacconist, and I look forward to returning to my Homeland so that I may introduce some Additional latinisms to the good people running Arizona, such as restitutio in integrum (there are Advantages, after all, to being an Attorney). And in the meanwhile, I wish to add that leges humanae nascuntur, vivunt, et moriuntur. I look forward to the Acceleration of this process in the Grand Canyon state.