This week, Charles—should I call him Charlie? Charles sounds so formal. I’m going to call him Charlie—Charlie and I went to Disneyland. No, not to the actual park (I don’t have a pass), but to Downtown Disney, a place filled with shops and food and music and lots and lots of people.
As I sat by the abnormally large Starbucks and read, I wondered what Charlie would think about Disneyland. It’s one of my favorite places to people-watch, and I think he’d like that about it, too. He’d probably get some great character ideas! But I also think he might not like the mentality around Disney. He started working when he was 12, so he didn’t exactly have a fun, care-free childhood. If he had been a child in today’s world, he wouldn’t have been able to go to Disneyland, and he’d probably be bitter about that as a young man.
Dickens in the modern world?
Anyways, my Pickwickian friends learned a few lessons this week—one being that you cannot always trust every kind stranger you meet on the road. Poor Mr. Tupman—after being accidentally shot in the arm by Mr. Winkle—is betrayed by one of those kind strangers and loses the woman he loved. But perhaps he didn’t love her as much as he’d thought because, though at first he contemplates suicide, he does get over her pretty quickly, in a way that hints maybe he was just being dramatic for drama’s sake.
At the upper end of the room was a table, with a white cloth upon it, well-covered with a roast fowl, bacon, ale, and et ceteras; and at the table sat Mr. Tupman, looking as unlike a man who had taken his leave of the world, as possible. (89)
I discovered in my reading that J. K. Rowling was not the first author to imagine a chair turning into a man. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, one of the teachers turns into an old chair to disguise himself. Dickens, however, had this idea long before Rowling was born. Of course, I’m not saying Rowling stole this idea from Dickens; I don’t imagine he intended magic to be involved, as the character who sees the chair’s transformation is quite drunk.
Tom gazed at the chair; and, suddenly as he looked at it, a most extraordinary change seemed to come over it. The carving of the back gradually assumed the lineaments and expression of an old, shriveled human face; the damask cushion became an antique, flapped waistcoat; the round knobs grew into a couple of feet, encased in red cloth slippers; and the whole chair looked like a very ugly old man, of the previous century, with his arms akimbo. Tom sat up in bed, and rubbed his eyes to dispel the illusion. No. The chair was an ugly old gentleman; and what was more, he was winking at Tom Smart. (119)
Lastly, the Pickwickians observed a very intense political debate in one town, the Blues versus the Buffs. I don’t imagine politics today could every really look like this, but I think it is how they look on the Internet, with people throwing their opinions out and not really listening to anyone.
Then Horatio Fizkin [the Buff candidate], Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatonswill, presented himself for the purpose of addressing the electors; which he no sooner did, than the band employed by the Honourable Samuel Slumkey [the Blue candidate], commenced performing with a power to which their strength in the morning was a trifle; in return for which, the Buff crowd belaboured the heads and shoulders of the Blue crowd; on which the Blue crowd endeavoured to dispossess themselves of their very unpleasant neighbours the Buff crowd; and a scene of struggling, and pushing, and fighting, succeeded. (112)
I suppose nothing says good politics like some fighting and pushing and struggling.
Facts About Charlie
I realized that on the first few dates you have with a person, you should ask general, fact-based questions. So here are some facts about Charlie:
Full Name—Charles John Huffam Dickens (I’d like to point out that we both have two middle names. That’s all.)
Place of Birth—Portsmouth, England
Education—Three years at Wellington House Academy in London until he was 15; after that, he was largely self-educated.
Death—June 9, 1870
Cause of Death—Stroke
Place of Burial—Westminster Abbey, London, England
That’s enough of boring facts (though they’re not boring when you’re interested in a person). I’ll leave you with one last quotation from The Pickwick Papers; perhaps it will encourage you if you have trouble sleeping at night:
Everyone has experienced that disagreeable state of mind, in which a sensation of bodily weariness in vain contends against an inability to sleep.