A couple of gracious people have written letters and I have reacted accordingly. This first is from a lady at a distance who berates me vigorously for using bigoted terminology, prejudiced references, and degrading remarks. It seems I called Cynthia a chick. Cynthia works in the bank and is my favorite redhead, and calling her a chick was humiliating and I am properly subdued, contrite, and ashamed. I did find that my desk dictionary gives a definition of chick as ''a young girl.'' True, it is slang, but so is leatherneck and fat cat, and I decided to confer with Cynthia to find out how she feels.
Of the four available wickets, Cynthia's is usually the busiest, and it was as I waited my turn. The lobster dealer ahead of me was getting a suitcase full of money for his day's buying, and when he stepped away I took his place and said, ''Hi, chick!''
''Gracious!'' says Cynthia, ''what makes you so bouncy this morning?''
''It's a fine morning for bouncing,'' I said, and I said, ''Chick.''
''They all are,'' said she, and she said, ''and what gives with this chick stuff?''
''Aren't you mad at me?''
''Mad at you? I'm not mad at anybody. Why should I be mad at you?''
''Because I just called you a chick. I got a letter from a lady who tells me that isn't nice.''
''You come in here to do your banking and you can call me Thaddeus - call me anything except late for supper.''
(That's a traditional Maine remark, and may be current elsewhere; a Mainer doesn't care what you call him, so long as you don't call him late for suppah.)
Cynthia smiled, and I said, ''I want to withdraw a thousand dollars in twos and threes,'' and I handed in my deposit of $32.50. Cynthia said, ''My grandfather always called me his little Rhode Island Red pullet. Used to tell me to appreciate it while I could, because pullets get to be old hens and biddies.''
''They'll do it every time!'' I said.
Cynthia said, ''Eyah.'' The ten or so customers behind me seemed impatient, so I bade the chick good day and retired. She's a sweet kid and lives on Pleasant Point.
This second letter presents a more formidable and probably more important problem. It comes from Ken Blair at 08033 and I quote the gist:
My wife made a batch of her excellent fudge and left the cooking pot for me to lick clean, a task I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember and something I have looked upon as my contribution toward fudge making. But this time, there was nothing to be licked. The pot was a new one and had a Silverstone lining. The lining had done precisely what it was supposed to do. The pot was almost as clean as if it had not been used. This is a boon to the pot washer, but it deprives the fudge pot licker of his Constitutional rights and I implore you to do something about it.
Silverstone, like the snowmobile and the mosquito, is here to stay, and we must accept that. I pick up the cudgel for Friend Blair on principle, however, and not as a card carrying member of his persuasion. I was never a fudge pot licker, but was brought up as a dedicated cleaner of ice cream dashers. The difference is considerable. The fudge pot licker just sits around and waits (you'll notice Mrs. Blair made the fudge) and gets the pot because he is a good boy, or because he happens to be there, or for any reason otherwise. The dasher licker, on the other hand, traditionally turned the crank on the ice cream freezer, and his crack at the dasher is just reward for services rendered. Only those who have wrought at a freezer crank will know. By the time the mix has set up and the dasher is immobile, the ball game across the street is over and the lad needs his proper thanks. I have good memories of strawberry.
One answer is for every fudge-making menagem to keep a fudge pot for fudge alone, holding inviolate forever the privileges of the fudge pot licker. Another is to come up with a recipe for a fudge that will stick to Silverstone and confound the new technocracy as it deserves. I suggest fudge lickers do the former while I'm working on the latter.