I have not been sharing much about Audrey and Tutor at the Castle, because in recent months the world has become such an angry, divisive, and often delusional place. Yes, one day Audrey will buy out and own the Billionaires, every last one of them. They will be her loyal vassals, as servile as they would expect their Direct Reports to be with them. Or, she will have Tutor counsel them in the dungeon. It won't be torture, but enhanced tutorials few may survive intact. For now, though, Audrey is just a kid. It does not seem fair for me to share with you her small joys and sorrows, when you, apparently, expect to have your own privacy, without her nosing into your affairs. I don't really have permission to share her life, and my only excuse is that she, Tutor, and I, too, am a fiction, "as indistinct as water is in water," to quote Anthony in Anthony and Cleopatra, just before he does himself in, after the Battle of Actium. But I know many of you do care about the kid, and so, to reassure you that all is well, in her Sanctuary Castle, here are some recent episodes in the life of our once and future Queen. Monarchy looks better to me all the time. Never have Morals Tutorials for Dynastic Wealth been more important for the body politic. Can you imagine if You Know Who had had The Happy Tutor as his morals coach, back in the day when He Who Alone Can Save Us was still coachable? You have to start Dynasts young, or they can do us all a world of hurt. See how Tutor prepares Audrey. Watch, my Fellow Courtiers to the High and Mighty, and learn!
- Tutor and Audrey are in her big wooden toy box, with a blanket pulled over the top, which makes it their secret clubhouse. Their feet touch, knees bent. They peddle against each other, preparing to cogitate on the important issues that compelled Tutor to call this special meeting. After an appropriate pause, his feet pedaling and stopping, pedaling and stopping, his finger shoots forward, and in the pedantic tone of certainty for which he is well known, when making stuff up, he exclaims: "You are not normal!" To which Audrey, also pedaling, responds, "You are not normal! I am normal!" This continues for another three or four rounds, getting louder. Then Tutor exclaims, "Well, you are normal, very normal - for you!" And Audrey stands up abruptly in the toy box, her head pushing up the blanket, her fists dancing over her head, "I am normal, very normal, for me." Well, Momma being a very good Momma, has been auditing these proceeding, unbeknownst to Tutor and Audrey, her ear pressed against the box. Exasperated, understandably enough, she raises the blanket and exclaims, "Can you two please act normal just this once?" At which, Audrey drops straight down on her bum. All Momma hears is, "Shhhh! Let's be normal, ok?" Then silence, then suppressed laughter, then shouts and whoops of hilarity. What is Momma to do? All she can do is laugh, too, and hope that no one hears.
- Same scene, a day later. This time Tutor opens his Morals Tutorial, in the Socratic manner, with a hat tip to Diogenes, and his old pal Dr. Rabelais, by speaking in the most wooden and portentous tones: "You," he says pointing his pedantic finger at Audrey, "You! are very immature!" To which his young charge thinks fit to respond, "You are immature, Tutor. Momma says you need a Baby Sitter more than I do." At which point, Tutor, his cover blown, and his disguise ripped away, says in a tiny broken voice, "I know I am immature. I have always been immature. Inside, I am just a kid, too." Then he begins to sob and whine. "I don't want to grow up. I want to be little. I want to always be little. I always want to be kid like you!" "Well, you can't," says Audrey calmly, in the tone of a good teacher teaching an unwelcome lesson, or a nurse administering a shot. "You cannot be a kid because you are almost 2,000 years old." At which point Tutor has a classic melt down, sobbing and wailing. Audrey, however, has adult level responsibilities. Where is Rex? It is time for his 3 pm walk, and he is probably down in the kitchen with cook, begging for table scraps, and they are not good for him. So, Audrey is hoisting herself up over the shoulder high edge of the toy box, first one leg, then the other, dropping down on the outside, leaving Tutor to cry himself out.
- Tutor, his lesson plan complete, Audrey's competencies mastered, and checked off on his master sheet, exits the toy box only to find Momma standing there, arms akimbo. "So, what exactly do you think you have been doing in there?" she asks. Tutor draws himself up to his full lanky height, with all the dignity and unctuousness of The Morals Tutor to the World's Wealthiest Heir, and says, "Simply my job, Madame. I am preparing the heir to inherit more than the earth." And he begins to walk on. But Momma is not done with him yet. "And how do you plan to do that?" "By proven best practices, Madame," says he solemnly. "By instilling High Moral Sentence, clarifying Practical Practices, and resting it all on a solid foundation of Purposeful Playfulness." Now it is a duel between two strong-willed people, Patron and Patronized, to see who can keep from smiling longest. Tutor is his own best straight man (other than Phil Cubeta, in other words, me, your Omniscient Narrator). So, it is Momma whose smile dawns against her own best judgment. Tutor ambles out of the room. And Momma says to herself, "There is something a little off about that guy. But he is good with children." And he is; the more babyish he gets, the more adult and patronizing the child becomes. And without becoming a good patron, what is a proper heir to do?