Sunday, April 26, 2009


Things have really been getting hot lately, and I don't just mean the lovely weather we've been having. Oh but it has been absolutely balmy and wonderful - I just hope it stays so nice and warm for the tailgates. They're right around the corner and it would be blasted nasty if we got a chilly rain instead of this summer warmth. I've got a lovely Lilly dress to wear with my not quite as good as Lolly hat, and it would be ashame to have to sweater it up. But the point here is that the proverbial heat has been turned up at The Weekly. I'm not sure who has turned the heat up, quite frankly it was the air conditioner running the other day. But Sue-Nancy Quigley, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, said that it has, the heat that is, been turned up and someone was really starting to sweat. Odd phrases, really when you think about it. I absolutely did not see one person at The Weekly who was sweating. And as for the heat, as I've said it became quite hot outside these past few days, but inside of the offices the air conditioner was doing quite well at keeping it comfy.

But the important point I believe worth mentioning is that things were getting quite exciting. Well you can imagine how absolutely tickled I am to learn that my column has made The Weekly quite the popular rag. Isabel says that it all has to do with endorsements, and I've apparently snagged an exclusive. Endorsement, that is. You see, it all started when I agreed to give safe keeping for Lolly Desjardin's Most Beautiful Hat entry. Apparently, Lolly felt convinced that The Burglar would make entry into her home and nick off with her Lemon Hat, and odd as it seems, felt old Burglar Man would skip right by my home. All slights aside, being the good sport that I am, I agreed and decided to reinforce the trenches, so to speak, by taking it up with The Burglar in my own manner. Straight to the point, I posted a letter from my pen to his eye in my weekly advice column. Asked the man straight out not to lift the Lemon hat of Lolly until after the tailgates. Which, by that point I'd imagine, the hat would no longer even need a space in my home.

Word got out, and spread rather quickly I might ad, that The Burglar not only read my column, but responded in quite a quick turn around. And that, as Isabel says, is quite a coo - getting an endorsement from The Burglar. Impeccable manner, he has. And that is exactly what I said to Captain Leighton as he was asking poor Mr. Petigrew the same questions, over and over. I told him, Captain Leighton that is, that I was absolutely certain The Burglar would respond to my post as he's shown himself to be quite the model citizen, if you discount the burglary of course, in most respects. I mean really, the man has shown time and again that he respects people's property and their feelings, too. Well, again keeping the discount for the habit he has of steeling things. But he always tidy's up and fixes anything he's broken, and sometimes fixes things that just need fixing. And a darn decent sort, too. Why the entire thought of giving Katerina a nice piece of jewelry, knowing she had none of her own, was just positively charming. And you know, you can't buy charm like that in a jar. Can you imagine what a decent sort he must be. And I'm not the only one that feels this way. Why just the other day, Victor McWoogle told me that if The Burglar, or Burglar Man as Victor likes to refer to him. Point is, Victor says that if Burglar Man surfaces again, or drops me another line, to mention the possibility of a golf membership at the McWoogle's club. And that would be quite a jump across a very lengthy waiting list.

Now they - the police and Mr. Petigrew and Mr. Petigrew's attorney, Stanley Miles, that is. Well they talked and talked about Amendments, more than one of them I think because they keep making The First Amendmant sound terribly important, and being confidential, coming down to the station and all sorts of things they felt strongly were my duty. I've absolutely no idea how they came to think that an Advice Columnist of my stature would ever amend her advice or consider something intended for the newspaper to be confidential. And I told them that, too, that they were missing the point. Finally, I said to Captain Leighton, after first telling him just how much I admire him and to give Rose, his wife, my best, that if he wanted my advice he was going to have to send me a letter just like everyone else.

And that really is the point here. Why I've got quite a stack of mail to answer since The Burglar wrote me. Now since I've taken up the Veronica quill, I've scarcely got more than a note a week. Not what you'd call a town in dire need of advice. But advice I gave just the same. Well you can immagine that since The Burglar has given me such a rousing endorsement, one would naturally want my advice. I've become absolutely a sought after sort for advice. More letter than I could possibly read over a cup of coffee, which is really my usual working hour. I've taken to adding a mid day snack time to go with my letter reading. And it's not just me that has become a person that uses the working term 'swamped'. Sue-Nancy Quigley, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, tells me that the advertising department is also in the swamp. Says that the phone in classified rings so much that Mrs. Petigrew has been compelled to come by in the mornings to lend a hand and ear. And apparently, Mrs. Petigrew has grown tired of coming to The Weekly since that Veronica girl has found other employment.

I said to Charlie as we were enjoying a nice, summer like evening on our porch, 'I feel quite important suddenly.' And Charlie just said to me, 'darling you're always important.' And that's a thought that no one can nick.

Oh yes, do forgive any typos, this entire idea of being swamped is exciting but does come with it's own set of issues.

Dear Veronica,
I have a secret crush on a man that I work with. His name is Harper but he is married and I don't want anyone to know, except for Harper. Can you please use your column to advice him of such,

Dear Laura,
I am not certain if Harper reads The Weekly, but I had the pleasure to bump into his wife, Sonya, at the Genuardi's yesterday and she says that she reads The Weekly as well as my column and she promises to show him your letter. Good luck,

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Mr. Petigrew had recently developed an odd habit of leaving the office to pace the sidewalk up and down West Avenue. He checks his reflection in the windows of shops and then darts quickly by others. Maybe he has more time now that he's not trying to find that Veronica girl a job. Wonderful really, because I think the exercise might do him a bit of good. And Veronica just seems to love her new job with Mr. Heung. But the pacing has become a bit much. If he just walked leisurely I don't think he'd call quite as much attention to himself. He has also been seen to spray some sort of aerosol on his scalp quite frequently. Sue-Nancy Quigly, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, told me that he, that is Mr. Petigrew, that he has also taken to asking her if she has noticed he had a bit more hair on his dome. She had not, and quite frankly neither did I. He remained as shiny on the top as the day I first met him. And a good thing, too, for he was also growing accustomed to saying how much he'd like to pull his own hair out. Very odd, indeed, to hope so much to grow some just so one could pull it all out again. Men can truly be difficult to understand, at times, as Isabel says "they are victims of their own desires". Now I'm not entirely certain how this pertains to Mr. Petigrew's lack of scalp follicles, but I do know that he has also become quite uncomfortable with the visits from Captain Leighton as well as Eliahas Wayne's insurance man, Mr. Kuflic. Something to do with the in's and outs of his advertising and all to do with catching The Burglar.

You see, it all has to do with my column and the letter I received from The Burglar. I was once again credited with an idea that Mr. Petigrew called a "doosy" that he just "couldn't believe". He really is quite a down to earth type fellow, always wondering what he has done to deserve all of this. And he is such a devoted newspaper man, I believe it absolutely is about time he get all of this recognition. Now when I first met Mr. Petigrew, he was dedicated to the entire Burglar issue, and now with a bit of help from me he is smack dab in the middle of it. Or, as The Daily said in a headline, "In With The Burglar". (Most unflattering picture of Mr. Petigrew that The Daily chose to run). But the point here is that I decided to ask Mr. Burglar, up front and all that, not to rummage through my home and snatch poor Lolly's tailgate hat until after the Races. And though a few of the Ladies at my Women's club called my letter 'silly', 'daft' and a few other things, apparently I'm not the only one. That is, not the only one that took to making my requests to Mr. Burglar in print. You see, I believe The Burglar to be a gentleman, and a gentleman never denies a polite request. It's become quite obvious that the man does like hats, and why wouldn't he want a hat like Lolly Desjardin's?

But the point here is that, apparently, after reading my latest column, several others decided to take out space in The Weekly with similar requests. Babson Hurley was the first. Her advertisement read: Dear Mr. Burglar, You've already been to 105 Wooded Lane. While we appreciate your courtesy and thoughtfulness in cleaning up any mess you may have caused, we do request that you not visit again unless formally invited.

Betsy Perkins ran an even nicer advertisement, saying: Dear Burglar, If you are the person responsible for bringing my cat to me, thank you ever so much. He is the best cat in the whole entire world. My husband may not think this cat is worth the golf clubs of his that you took, but I do. And, my husband did get his clubs back. We don't have much else for you, other than some coins that my husband collects which you missed. They are in the second floor study.

Victor McWoogle took out a very funny spot, saying : Alright now Burglar Man, haven't had the pleasure yet, despite all the good stuff in our house. Still, our neighbors at 114 Overlook have absolutely fabulous stuff and they are heavy sleepers.

At last count, according to Sue-Nancy Quigley, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, The Weekly had received ten advertisements and placed all of them in the front section of the paper. Now, according to Sue-Nancy, who to me seems to be a rather in-the-know type, newspapers are very keen on their advertisements. All has to do with profits, and what not. So you see, this trend I started was obviously pleasing Mr. Petigrew to the point where he believed he could actually wish for more hair. Really, any hair would be more hair for the dear man.

And the truly odd thing about this whole letter writing bit is that the police, as well as that nasty little insurance man, Mr. Kuflic, had completely forgotten about The Second Hand and were concentrating themselves on this belief that Mr. Petigrew had an "in" with The Burglar. It must be nice to realize one's dreams, as Mr. Petigrew was now doing. Although, I thought that Veronica girl was a bit cross when she said gagging is what he, Mr. Petigrew that is, that gagging is what he gets. You see, as we were buying up some more suspicious items at The Second Hand, I told her about how the police were ordering Mr. Petigrew to gag. Very archaic, I believe, and I told the man from The Daily just that when he came round to speak with me about it. I said to him, 'one does not order one to gag, and the police should stop concentrating so much on who writes who a letter and should really concentrate more on finding out who lifted the hood ornaments off of half a dozen Mercedes parked along Louella Court last week.'

But the point here really is the letter that I received from The Burglar that started all of this excitement.

Dear Veronica,
I wouldn't think of burgling your home. You've been quite kind and fair to me, I believe. I think that you're advice is very good advice and more people should read your column. They should also stop by and visit your garden, it's one of the nicest in the neighborhood. And while there, maybe think about adopting one of the stray cats you've been so good about caring for.
Best Regards,

Monday, April 20, 2009


It was a rather lemony looking hat, wider on the left then on the right, completely covered with biggish, lemon colored feathers and a giant sun flower on the shallow side. Lolly Desjardin was besides herself and beamed like a light bulb underneath it's lemony brim. Said that "Lindsay felt this to be her finest creation". Iggy Braithwaite gushed all over herself, making an early and, I thought, premature pronouncement that she'd be passing the torch to Lolly this year. That is, the Most Beautiful Hat torch, if you will. Now I do adore Lolly, well who doesn't. And on a normal day, one that didn't involve stacking tea cups and longing for a sip of Earl Grey while realizing my dream of winning Most Beautiful Hat at the Malvern Races was diminishing with every lemon swoosh of Lolly's hat, I would be giddy with excitement for her, too. But I'm sure that they, Lolly and Iggy that is, must have noticed the complete drain of color from my face as soon as Lolly showed us her, I must admit, quite spectacular hat. I'd been working so hard on my hat, and here before my eyes was quite possibly the most glorious, lemon colored creation that a head could wear. Maeve Huckleberry wore a somewhat similar, pink creation two years ago at the Point to Point races, and blabbered on endlessly about how some famous hat man in London made the thing especially for her. Unfortunately, this famous hat man neglected to build something to hide Maeve's rather unfortunate looking mug. Therefore, I believe he completely failed in his mission.

Now Lolly is such a pretty girl, one wouldn't want a hat to cover her smiley face. And happy as she was, well you can imagine the pickle it placed me when she asked about storing the thing in my cedar closet. "I'm so dreadfully frightened that The Burglar might abscond with it," she nearly quivered. Iggy shook her head emphatically in agreement, reminding us that he'd, The Burglar that is, taken off with her would be entry to this year's competition. "Don't know what I'll do now," Iggy almost sobbed, "Huston says I spend too much money on hats to begin with, and that I should just wear the one from last year since it was so successful. He really doesn't understand a thing!" And we all agreed. He's a darling man, but like most men, he can be a bit daffed when it comes to important things like the Hat Competition.

Now the thing about being magnanimous, which is precisely what I believe I was being, is that you can't actually go out and brag of your magnanimosity, now can you? What would I say, "oh hallo, I've just given over my house as a safe haven for Lolly Desjardin's most glorious Hat competition entry, absolutely blinding my dream of snagging that honor with an original creation of my own". And speaking of my original creation, I'd been spending absolutely bundles of time on it, and you know, I think the thing is no where close to being a finished product. I'd left the project in the able hands of Mr Heung, over at The Second Hand, you know. And between the two of us, we'd clipped the man made tails off nearly a dozen second hand stuffed animals and statuettes with the plan of reattaching them to the brim of a very smart looking hat I'd located in the shop. If I remember correctly, we had at least one faux rabbit tail, a purple dinosaur tail, a small number of faux cat and dogish type tails and a most rigid piece from the rear of a plastic horse. Mr. Heung had taken on the task of attaching these tails in an artistic fashion of which he assures me he is most talented. And I do absolutely believe him as he has been so excited about the project. That is until I introduced him to that Veronic girl. Lovely sweet girl, if a tad tawdry in her outfits, but none the less, quite a nice girl. And you see, this brings me really to the dilemma I sat in the middle of at this moment. As much as I adored myself for the arrangement I managed to create at The Second Hand, it was at the moment leaving me rather hat less. After all, the Malvern Races were right around the proverbial corner, I was staring at the giddy, happy and gloriously hatted face of Lolly Desjardin as my head was moving up and down in agreement while she, Lolly that is, placed her lemon prize into a large shopping bag, provided by the ever eavesdropping Constance Cortnoy, and handed it to me for a vigilant safe keeping. I suppose a second place finish might be nice, if indeed the committee chose to award such a thing.

But the point here is that I believe Mr. Heung has become a bit forgetful towards my hat. Now I do admit that fabulous things had been going on at The Second Hand since I'd introduced that Veronica girl to the situation. She'd managed to create actual departments in the store. Where once you could find a vintage Lilly Pulitzer along side a baby bassinet, Veronica had staged a Ladies boutique to the right front of the store, jewelry smack dab in the center, Menswear to the front left and so forth and so on. Not to mention the bright dabs of color she'd painted on the walls and bright, happy lime green trim. Flubberheaded as I am, this all reminded me that Veronica gave me a hand scribbled ad to place in The Weekly, announcing that every Wednesday afternoon, High Tea would be served at The Second Hand. I couldn't wait for that and was so dreadfully proud to show Mr. Petigrew the business I was bringing The Weekly.

"A paid advertisement," I told him triumphantly. I must have bragged just a tad too much about how I masterminded the whole plot, looked like love and all that, for Mr. Petigrew grew into a foul mood and stormed off into his office, refusing to take calls. Which really is too bad, I had such a good idea to run by him. But in that mood, Sue-Nancy Quigley suggested, better not to bother him at all. So, as Sue-Nancy suggested, I decided not to bother Mr. Petigrew and to just go ahead and print my column with this new twist:

Dear Mr. Burglar,
I must say that I am an absolute fan of yours. I imagine you to be very busy, but a talented man with a special kindness towards animals. All things wonderful with that. Be that as it may, I've a special object in my home that I'm keeping safe for a dear friend and I would be most appreciative if you held off from nicking it until after the Malvern Races.
Thank you so much, you dear man and good luck,

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Now the thing that made last Tuesday so special wasn't just how glorious the sun was that day, or the absolutely gorgeous canopy that the Cherry Blossoms created along Overlook Lane, but obviously it was just how perfect things worked out for Mr. Heung and that Veronica girl. You see, I started to become most concerned about Eliahas Wayne's insurance man. Mr. Kuflick I believe him to be.

You may even think that Eliahas was a tad understated in his description of Mr. Kuflick, that is if you had actually heard the entire description. Suffice it to say, it was long and detailed and not a bit shy of being unmannerly. But that's Eliahas. He doesn't mean it, really. That's just the way things seem to come out of Eliahas' mouth. He's a talk first, think second sort. But a darn good violinist, you know. He plays in a string quartet and Charlie and I have had the pleasure to be guests at several recitals at Eliahas and Katerina's home. Lovely couple, really. A bit no frills. Well, except for the violin. And don't you see that is why Mr. Kuflick has presented such a dilemma for Eliahas.

Now as I understand it, and mind you I've had some coaching from Isabel so I think I'm quite straight on this. Anyway, Eliahas' violin was quite priceless, having been a one of a kind. I suppose it is still one of a kind and priceless, but unfortunately it can no longer be found in the Wayne's house. It was 'lifted' apparently by The Burglar. I do wonder if Mr. Burglar plays the violin. He is such a fascinating and talented man, you know, I wouldn't hesitate to doubt his violin abilities.

But the point here is that Eliahas Wayne's custom made, quite priceless violin has been lifted and there's quite an investigation into this by his insurance man, Mr. Kuflick. Mr. Kuflick is apparently not a musical man and has some misgivings about the value Eliahas has placed on this particular musical instrument. Now I must admit, having seen Mr. Kuflick I am not at all surprised by his lack of musical anything. I was enjoying a cup of Hazelnut coffee at The Gryphon with Isabel, Lolly and Katerina when Katerina pointed him out, Mr. Kuflick that is, walking along Lancaster Avenue. He was a bit hunched over, you know, but as a thin man that sort of thing does happen. But really what an unhappy stroll he had. Absolutely no music to his step and I found myself feeling just a tad sorry for this Mr. Kuflick. Afterall, dealing with Eliahas, that is if you are unaccustomed to Eliahas' ways, I imagine could be a bit uncomfortable.

Well I am sure you can imagine how shocked and horrified I was to see this tiny little man with no pep in his stride heading straight for the entrance of The Second Hand. Why I nearly knocked the entire table of coffee's onto poor Lolly's lap. Really so good of her to catch them all as I darted out of The Gryphon and on over to The Second Hand. Why whatever was this Mr. Kuflick up to, I muttered to myself. I don't even recall when it was that Isabel caught up to me with her plan. She's just so devilishly smart, you know. Both of us worried to bits, I'm sure you can imagine, about what that Mr. Kuflick might find in The Second Hand. I know that I've not seen a violin in the store lately, but who can tell, really.

But the point is that we, Isabel and I that is, had a plan. Isabel would hide anything that looked a bit familiar, you know, something that could have been lifted. While I was just anxious to translate for Mr. Heung. We managed to catch our breath, the two of us, before we pretended to saunter into the store.

"Lovely day, isn't it Abigail?" Isabel smiled and proclaimed as we entered.

"Oh yes, it's a pleasure to be outside, isn't it?" I added.

"Oh, what a glorious necklace here, " Isabel called over to me as she held up a rather ghastly and ornate thing.

"I'm sure that I've never seen anyone in town ever wear that," I answered back with a cheery voice.

"I'm certain you haven't," Isabel responded, but with just a tad bit too much sarcasm in her voice. Why, when I caught the look on her face and saw her curled up lip I had to bite my own for fear I'd laugh.

Good thing I did, bite my lip that is, for if I'd been laughing I never would have heard Mr. Kuflick saying to Mr. Heung, "If you keep playing games with me, sir, I'll involve our law department."

I hurried over to the counter as Mr. Heung shot me a look of confusion.

"I don't mean to interrupt," I said as I smiled at Mr. Kuflick and patted his hand, tight fisted as it was against the counter. "maybe I can be of assistance. I'm a very, very good customer and know just about every piece of merchandise in the store. You see, " and I smiled at Mr. Heung, "Mr. Heung speaks mostly Korean and unless you do to, I'm afraid you'll rather have to get into the spirit of it."

Well Mr. Kuflick started sputtering out something unfriendly, looking rather like Mr. Petigrew does when he gets those migraines of his. But Isabel glided over, you know how graceful she is, well she glided up to his side and extended her hand, which he had no choice, really, but to shake.

"Why you're that insurance man I've heard such marvelous things about, aren't you?" Isabel gushed, and he shook his head a bit and attempted to answer but by that point, Isabel had his arm and was walking him towards the used book section. "Just such a fascinating job you have," she was saying and then much to my surprise I heard her ask Mr. Kuflick "would you speak at my Women's Club. We'd be absolutely enthralled by your stories." And then she invited him to a meeting that I knew had been devoted entirely to our tea cup drive.

I'm sure that Isabel saw the startled expression on my face as she walked Mr. Kuflic out of The Second Hand and over towards our club house. That left me with poor, confused Mr. Heung and, much to my horror, a positively exquisite violin that I was sure I'd seen on the playing shoulder of Eliahas Wayne. Really, I had not idea how to act any of this out for Mr. Heung. So, I quickly rang Babson and she came right over with her check book.

Well, we were one up on silent auction items for the fabulous party that Babson would throw to raise money for our local animal shelter. But there was still the situation of Mr. Heung and the police and now this insurance man coming round. One false move on Mr. Heung's part, and I do mean move because, you know, he hardly speaks a lick of English, so it's all moves. Anyway, the point here is that something had to be done to help protect Mr. Heung from the police and this insurance man. They really should be looking for The Burglar and not bothering a sweet, hard working immigrant. Although, I'm not entirely certain I want them to catch The Burglar. Really, what would happen to the poor man.

And that is when I ran into Veronica. Absolutely, completely ran smack into her. Why neither of us had been looking where we were going and 'bang'. We both fell backwards. Me in my natty capri's and Taryn Rose flats. She in a tiny little skirt and three inch heals. I've a good guess she got the worst of it. A bit teary eyed she was. Said she'd just come from The Weekly and that I could "have it". Which, now, I found rather strange because really anyone can have a copy. They're free, you know. But I sensed there was more to Veronica's dilemma and I suggested she'd had a bit of a tough time, job wise, and that maybe - and here is where I became completely brilliant - I suggested with her style that a career in Women's clothing seemed a fabulous idea.

She perked up just a bit in time for me to yank her off of the sidewalk and march her back towards The Second Hand.

"I've got a friend," I told her, "with an absolutely charming little store that needs a smart, female touch." And it really does, you know. Poor Mr. Heung does try, but he's no idea how to present some of his merchandise.

"Don't be dismayed," I said when I saw the ghastly look on her face as we entered the store, "you'll turn this into the chicest boutique in town in no time. Just don't change the dress sizes."

"And it's down the street from The Weekly, too." she said with an odd smirk.

Well you can imagine how excited Mr. Heung was to meet Veronica and how pleased he was with my idea that he take her on at The Second Hand. He was a bit confused, at first, by me calling her Veronica. You see, in the past few weeks Mr. Heung has grown accustomed to me being Veronica. At least, that is, to me being Dear Veronica. He pointed at me with a look of question and said "Dear Abby?". Which, I think, has a nice ring to it and so we laughed and kept it at that.

When I finally left, absolutely aching from what seemed an entire day's worth of dancing and acting at The Second Hand, I left two very happy people behind. Veronica turned a radio on and she and Mr. Heung were dancing away. I really don't know if they were just dancing or trying to tell each other something, but they certainly both seemed quite enthralled.

I was feeling quite pleased with myself when I dropped my column off the next week. I'd helped to steer that insurance man away from The Second Hand. And if he came back again, Veronica would be there to discuss things with him. And you know, she's really much smarter than I thought. I've no idea why Mr. Petigrew has such a difficult time helping her to find work. I'd managed it in less then ten minutes. And it seems that Veronica and Mr. Heung have really been enjoying their arrangement. I understand they close shop early and have dinner together quite often. I've really no idea why Mr. Petigrew seemed so peculiarly annoyed that day, having run into Veronica at The Gryphon and met her new boss. Should have been quite happy, I'd think.

But alas, Mr. Petigrew may just be a project for another day.

Dear Veronica,
My neighbor gets up very late at night and goes out for hours, then comes home even later at night and makes all kinds of noise banging round his garage. The man's wife is even worse, yelling "that's not enough," and "you have to go back for it" at all hours of the night. And then the other night he began practicing the violin. It was past midnight. I don't even know what song he was trying to play. Should I leave him a note?

Dear Sleepy,
I think you should just ask him in person. That way, you might be able to make a request, at least if he knows the song that you're requesting.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In The Knick of Time

Now the thing about hats is that you've got to walk a rather thin line with them. What looks positively fabulous on one head can be an absolute disaster on another head. I think that's what happened to me last year. The tailgates, you know, Most Beautiful Hat. I thought my hat was so terribly smart, and special, too. I'd jazzed it up and glued little plastic horses to the rim and stuck some hey to it. Really got into the whole horsey theme. I must say it gave quite a laugh to some of the other ladies at the races. Very unbecoming of them to behave in such a manner. Ah, but this is a new year and a new tailgate, but oh what drama. I really don't think I can remember a year when the drama was so high. Why, the entire idea of Constance Cortnoy's massive tailgate is becoming almost a put off. Or is that a down turn? Isabel really has the most experienced way with words, you know, but I don't always remember the exact sequence with which she uses them. She's really got quite a knack with them, words that is. Why, if you could have a job just saying fabulous words, well Isabel would have quite the career I dare say. Although they really don't make jobs like that, now do they?

But the point here is that Constance Cortnoy has done something about a Monkey's wrench and it's just wreaking havoc on us all. Several of us, myself included, are deeply convinced that this bountiful tailgate she's hosting at the Malvern Races is a devious attempt to sway the judges and win the Most Beautiful Hat competition. There are a few other theories which I don't necessarily subscribe to, although I am tempted as Isabel subscribes to one of them. Theories, that is. And you know, I do think brains were born inside of Isabel. Anyway, Isabel believes that Constance is attempting some sort of statement. Thinks it goes all the way back to college. Well, preposterous, I say. At least I would say that until, as I've said, I discovered that Isabel felt strongly about this particular theory. I supposed it could be a bit of both, you know, hats and statements. Although really, college. Isn't that odd. What's there to make a statement about, after all. We went, she went, she met Conroy, and thankfully her mother insisted that the sorority accept her, and the same women that she is friends with today let her follow them around back then, too. No idea really what the problem could be. But Isabel thinks something to do with always coming in second. Well, if you ask me, second is much better than third.

But on this particular day, Constance Cortnoy or not, I was dedicating my afternoon to completing my hat. Well, that and having a look round Mr. Heung's shop for items that may have found their way into the shop without the owners full knowledge. Obviously, these tasks blended quite well together, as Mr. Heung has been helping me to create my hat. Yes, it is true that after last year's hat seemed to have bombed so fiercely, I had originally decided to go with the tried and true a just buy a hat from Lindsay's. But then I found that absolutely glorious hat in The Second Hand and Mr. Heung suggested I adorn it with tails. You know, tailgate party, why not a hat with tails. Not real tails, mind you, that would be positively ghastly And besides, where would I get them? The tails, that is.

But the point here is not really about my hat, but the other task, the investigative journalism I'd been assigned by Babson. And you know, I realized just a few days ago, that other than the normal, routine town gossip, I had very little knowledge of what actually had been lifted by this Burglar. You know how it is, most of the talk is all the excitement of who's house has 'been hit' and who's been overlooked. Dreadfully embarrassing it is, you can imagine, after awhile not to have been one of the home's that have 'been hit'.

Now I can see why the Dustin's home was skipped, so to speak. Lovely people they are, the Dustin's. And chalk full of good stuff in their house, too, mind you. But don't you see, it's their dog, Jack Daniels. He's a lovely dog, but oh what a barker. The Beasley's house was 'hit', don't you love that word? But the Beasley's poor old dog, Bailey, really is getting on in years and I don't think he can hear much, let alone do much barking. I should think that would make the Beasley's house a rather safe bet, and apparently The Burglar felt so, too.

So off I went, just a few days ago, to visit some of the chosen homes. You know, get their spoon full. Betsy Perkins, of course, had already told me what had been lifted; that emerald cocktail ring of hers and Ned's golf clubs. Funny thing about golf clubs, though. He got them back. They ended up in Archie Archibald's study, of all odd places. Archie doesn't even play golf. Betsy says that the police think The Burglar hit two homes that night, hers and the Archibald's. Must have been too heavy, the clubs, for the poor man to carry so he ended up leaving them in Archie's study. Whats more, according to Betsy, Ned and Archie had quite a rowe over the whole thing. Still aren't really speaking to each other. Well, Betsy says, she's quite glad that The Burglar left her a cat and not a set of golf clubs, because she doesn't play golf, either. Not that she would trade with the Archibald's. After all, Betsy and her cat, Mr. Marmalade, have become quite inseparable, you know.

I asked Betsy if she knew what the Archibald's were missing, and she said "Oh well, you know, they don't really have much of anything worth nicking. But they did apparently find themselves quite light in the silver wear cabinet", as well as something else called a GPS and a Digital something or other. Well, I'd have a very difficult time looking for those things, the GPS and the Digital, at The Second Hand. I've absolutely no idea what they are and wouldn't even know how to begin to act them out to Mr. Heung. Now the silver wear, on the other hand, I could spot. Reed and Barton apparently. Very respectable taste. I made a mental note.

I then visited the Beasley's, the Hamilton's, the Wayne's and the Bandywiths and came up with the following mental notes: lots and lots of Reed and Barton silver wear, two hats intended for the Malvern Races tailgate parties, a few other things with cords and batteries that I'd never recognize in a million years, one priceless pearl necklace and one not so priceless pearl necklace, a diamond tennis bracelet that popped up at a neighbors home, another emerald cocktail ring, a Sapphire brooch, a Sapphire necklace, eight pairs of diamond earrings, and an autographed photograph of Tiger Woods. I don't mind telling you that by the third day I was positively exhausted. Whats more, I realized that I'd need more than three days to wrap this investigative journalism up.

And I'll tell you what, this man, The Burglar, quite a good man, he is. The Beasley's said that the man, The Burglar, walked old Bailey for them. They knew this because the old boy was positively walked out in the morning and both his leash and pick-up bags were left in the wrong spots. Anyone who cares for pets is a darn decent sort in my book. Elizabeth Beasley agreed and said she's anxious to meet the man and say hello.

Now the Brandywith's had an even more fascinating story. Seems they've got a table in their study, quite an nice one, too as I recall. Anyway, this table has been in Edith Brandywith's family for generations. You see, she is Edith Browne Brandywith and the table is quite priceless, as well as sentimental. Well the leg on the left has been quite loose and giving them a problem, almost broken off. Well that nice man, The Burglar, took to fixing it for them. Actually came back a second night to finish the job. Of course, he did lift a Sapphire brooch and pair of diamond earrings and some other things, too. But really, what dedication to a job. They're positively besides themselves and Jack says he'd like to share a martini with Mr. Burglar, as he calls him. Actually, Jack swears that The Burglar must be a Sigma Nu, just like Jack. Says only a Sigma Nu knows how to get the job done.

Susan Meale Hamilton spent most of the time complaining about how her tailgate hat had been taken and she was convince that a conspiracy was in play. Well, you can imagine how I had to bite my lip. Susan Meale Hamilton has, even on a good year, even less of a chance of winning the Most Beautiful Hat competition than I do. I at least put some effort into the adventure, while Susan Meale Hamilton' efforts center on the television remote and a box of chocolates. Bug Hamilton did add that despite the few missing bits of jewelry, The Burglar did defrost their freezer for them, and he was quite thankful.

Now Eliahas and Katerina Wayne felt very uncomfortable discussing the entire being 'hit' affair. Well, Eliahas harrumphed "not the sort of thing one brags about, now is it. Just life, it is. Wouldn't have even made that police report if it wasn't for that", well, I'll leave some of his words out, but he was referring to his insurance man. Eliahas and Katerina are notoriously, um, toned down. A bit sparse in the finer things, if you know what I mean. Eliahas doesn't believe in excess anything, other than his three classic cars and quite a bit of stock, from what I understand. Anyway, point is that Katerina has never sported much jewelry, even at black tie events. Mostly, of course, because she doesn't have any jewelry. It's Eliahas, you see. Doesn't believe in that, too frivolous. And dear sweet Katerina never complains. But before I went off on my way, she darted down the drive after me and, checking first to see that Eliahas wasn't watching, pulled a most gorgeous diamond tennis bracelet from her pocket. "A gift," she whispered in the breathless voice of hers, "from that charming burglar". I was so happy for her. No one deserves a diamond tennis bracelet more than Katerina.

"You know what, Abigail?" she confided, "I find him a fascinating individual and I hope he never gets caught."

And I absolutely agreed.

That night, sitting on our porch as we do, well at least when it's warm out and last night was a lovely evening. Anyway, I said to Charlie, "why do you think we've been skipped? We've got quite a bit of shiny, sparkly things." But Charlie just smiled and said that maybe it had something to do with me being in the newspaper business, and such.

Dear Veronica,
Ever since I had my third child and became addicted to Reese's Pieces and Gummy Bears, I've put on weight. I just can't seem to take it off. People keep telling me that I should eat less and exercise more, but I"m running all the time. And the Gummy Bears give me energy. I don't think I"ll ever be a perfect size 8 again, what should I do?
Sized Out

Dear Size,
I think that you should shop at The Second Hand over on West Avenue. There's a size 8 dress there for everyone, I guarantee.

Friday, April 10, 2009


It doesn't get much better than a Wednesday afternoon late lunch at the home of Babson Hurley. And Mr. Heung and I were the only names on the guest list, so naturally we had no intent of making a late entrance. That would just be rude, and how sweet of Babson to invite me along with Mr. Heung. He's a tremendously social man, you know, but if one is not accustomed to Mr. Heung's way of communicating, well it can be dodgy, you know. Never can be sure of exactly what you've just agreed to. Now that does remind me of Silvie Pepto in my Women's Club. Silvie, as I understand it, is a tad hard of hearing, and so she is what Isabel refers to as a 'low talker'. And she's quite small, too. I swear to you she's not an inch over four foot ten on a tall day. So naturally she is a bit lower than most adults she speaks with, but it's not just her mouth area that's low, but her voice, too. Now, I would think that, being hard of hearing as she is, that she might speak up a bit, maybe even yell just to hear herself. But Isabel says that it works this way, too, and I do put great stock in what comes out of Isabel's mouth. Well, what with never really knowing what the dear girl is saying, Silvie that is, not Isabel. We all know what Isabel has to say. But Charlie says that he's afraid to even engage in a chat with Silvie. Absolutely dreadfully frightened that he might agree to do something he hadn't really intended on doing. You see, Charlie is just so agreeable, he would just nod his head politely, "yes, yes, of course" he'd say, not really knowing what he was responding to.

But the point here is that Mr. Heung is a bit of a challenge until you get the hang of it. And as positively flawless as Babson's manners are, she can't possibly be expected to know what Mr. Heung is up to when he starts running in circles and pretending to open imaginary cupboards, and such, now can she? So she was quite right in inviting me along today.

As soon as he received the invitation, Mr. Heung locked up shop and headed straight over to show me. Actually, I think he may have needed me help in translating, too, as there were not words like "size", "sale", "vintage" and "like new" on the invite, and those are really the English words that Mr. Heung is most familiar. Now, I'd received my invitation the same day. With Mr. Heung by my side, smiling and nodding away so happily as he does, I rang Babson, thanked her for her very kind invitation and asked what time we should pop round. Well, what a surprise when she suggested the same day. Well, you know, when you're someone like Babson Hurley you can be a renegade, throw protocol to the wind and what not. An exciting trend, really.

Babson Hurley is a flawless beauty. Her home, her garden and her manners all suit her to a tee. Absolutely everyone enjoys being in Babson's company, and it's not just because she has such a large home and so much money, dare I say. She just has one of those natural things that Isabel mentions and does things so well. Oh, especially parties. I'm very positive that there is no one else on The Main Line that can host an affair like Babson. And here we were, Mr. Heung and I, sitting down to a lite lunch and tea with Babson.

And do you she didn't bat an eye when Mr. Heung started bowing and pretending to dance. She nodded, smiled, clapped her hands and then stood and acted out a little routine of her own. Now to be quite honest, fan that I am of Babson's, she really has no idea what she was doing and Mr. Heung and I were both perplexed. Not a problem, we laughed and chatted and acted things out having a wonderful time.

But by the end of our stay, I began to realize that Babson actually wanted to have a word with just me. In fact, as we were leaving, Mr. Heung and I, Babson ever so gently grasped by elbow and said,

"Abigail dear, might I have a word in private?"

Well, you can imagine how important I felt, absolutely. "Yes, why of course," I told her.

Now, it seems that Babson gave quite a bit of thought to how her Daine Schratweiser turquoise necklace ended up in Mr. Heung's shop and wondered if some of the other items may have landed in the same place. I tell you, she is a smart woman. Not quite up to being an Isabel, mind you. But none the less, quite smart indeed. I shook my head yes emphatically and agreed that very well may be the case. As smart as she is, though, I don't mind telling you that I was positively shocked when Babson suggested I peak round a bit in the shop, see if I recognize anything else.

"What ever are you suggesting, Babson?" I asked her.

"Well I understand you've become quite the newspaper woman. Don't newspaper people solve a lot of crimes?" she asked me, and then added, "after all, they solved that Watergate mystery, didn't they?"

"Oh yes," I recalled, "the case with the mysterious man in the garage." We both paused, deep in thought, when I realized and said "but what about poor Mr. Heung? I really don't think he's up to this sort of thing, you know. Fencing, is that what it's called?"

"Dry cleaning, isn't it?" Babson asked, but she understood exactly what I was getting at. Mr. Heung certainly cannot afford to pay for items and then have to turn them over to the police.

And then Babson had it, a glorious idea. "I know," she said with a broad smile, "I'll buy the pieces from him and then hold an auction here on my terrace. Make it a fundraiser for the local pet rescue, why not? Everyone can just dress to the nines, but please bring the hundreds, "she laughed. And I laughed, too because she really does have such a sharp wit, that Babson. And what a smart woman, too. I tell you, the idea is brilliant and just made me feel so conspiratorial and couldn't wait to get home and tell Charlie. But first, I absolutely had to stop off at Isabel's and repeat all of the words and act out all of the charades from the day.

And then I answered some letters:

Dear Veronica,
The other night it was raining cats and dogs out, literally. In the morning, I had a broken window in my kitchen and a calico cat sitting in the middle of the floor waiting for her breakfast. Funny thing is that a bag of kitty chow was on my counter. Now, I later found that I was missing a good deal of my good silver wear. Reed and Barton, too. A few other items, all silver, are also gone. Well my husband wanted to call the police, says the burglar's been. But what if they take the cat away as evidence.

Dear Perplexed,
I would keep Reed Barton the cat and make do with some disposable utensils for the time. Funny thing, you're silver wear may turn up in a most unexpected place.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


When Isabel Curtis speaks most people stop and listen. Of course, I listen to Isabel all of the time. She is so profound and has such a way with words. Honestly she is most brilliant. And really that is only one of her many, many fine traits. I find myself quite proud to be Isabel's best friend. Always has a frothy comment or two to make, and smack dab on point, too. Really, not a thing gets by Isabel. Unlike me, who, according to Isabel, could be sitting next to a pond wondering where the water has gone. But really the point here is that Isabel commands quite a bit of attention when she makes a point.

It was just the other day, over cups of coffee at The Gryphon, that Isabel made a profound statement - and you know, that is exactly what it was, too. A statement. Isabel made this statement to me, Lolly Dejardins and Iggy Braithwait. Iggy had been spending quite a bit of time with Isabel and I ever since I managed to resurrect her fractured sense of self. And Lolly, of course, has been our third since school. Pretty girl, Lolly is. All curls and smiles and smart plaids and very much a backbone sort. Of course, she can't keep up with Isabel on the tennis court, but then again neither can I.

But back to Isabel, sipping and listening as Lolly and Iggy dished on the hats they planned on wearing at the tailgates. Placing her mug on the table and leaning in to emphasize the important nature of what she was about to say, Isabel interrupted the hat talk and spoke.

"I find it quite suspicious that Constance Cortnoy is hosting such a major tailgating event," and with that, Isabel resumed her sipping.

Well, you can imagine the effect that this statement had on the remaining three of us. What were we to think, mind you we're not an overly suspicious set. But I do abide by the principle that Isabel has quite a bit of perception about her. And, since I've become a career gal, and a newspaper person at that, I've acquired quite a keen sense myself. I decided to stay quiet, which is saying a lot to be sure.

Lolly spoke first, wondering if "CC may be making a play for Best Hat?". But Iggy poo pooed that thought straight off, quite convinced she was that no one could beat her in the hat competition.

"I think she's trying to assert herself in the hierarchy," Iggy offered, but Isabel gave a slight roll of her eyes. Very intelligent eyes, she has, too.

Off handedly, Isabel noted that Constance has always been a follower and would stay that way. And that, Isabel said, is what made the whole affair quite suspicious. "Why would she be braking from the tradition that we've always had." You see, the steeplechase races have been a part of life along the Main Line since as long as I think there has been a Main Line. But never, as Isabel now pointed out, did one couple host such a large tailgate all by themselves. Quite typically we'd set off with the couples we are most pleased with, parking along side of our other friends and neighbors and then set off to enjoy a day of strolling from one tailgate to the next. Why, I must admit that there have been some years that I've been quite unaware that a horse race was even on the grounds.

I couldn't help myself, the words just came bubbling out of me before I had the chance to swallow them back in. "She'll never have enough silver wear for the whole lot of us," I nearly shrieked and Iggy and I looked at each other, both remembering the thin, bony frame of Constance Cortnoy hurrying out of The Second Hand. "Poor Mr. Heung doesn't have that much silver wear in his store in an entire year."

"There has to be at least fifty people invited!" Iggy added.

"Well," Lolly harrumphed, "I can tell you, I'm not about to loan her any of my silver wear. I think she's doing this just to ingratiate herself with the committee and curry some favor in the Most Beautiful Hat competition."

And with that, Iggy and Lolly took to a cold stare at one another. I don't even think they noticed that Isabel and I set off on our way.

I often think that it should be Isabel, and not me, that answers the advice letters in The Weekly. But "no", Isabel demurs, she says that I have a sense about me that is quite real and that I "get it", or maybe that I am "getting it" or on the path to "getting it". She is so clever with words, I say. She is oh so good for a giggle, too. And as we said our toodle oohs for the day, Isabel tipped her head and told me "keep an eye on Constance, my dear investigative journalist."

With Isabel in mind, I approached Mr. Petigrew with a question. Well, he barely heard me,running into his office and slamming that door shut the way he always does. I do think that man works too, too much and needs to slow down. Always running. So I slipped a note under his door suggesting that I take on some more writing. Another column, mabye as I really do have a lot to say. I don't think he read my note, though, as I heard him quite loudly shrieking that something was going to "do him in".

Dear Veronica,
My wife keeps pushing me to do things that I don't want to do. I admit, I'm a bit afraid of her. I think I'm in too deep and don't know how to stop it all. I don't want to disappoint her, but I'm really afraid of getting caught.
Night Job

Dear Night,
I know just how you feel. I once spent the entire day making a dinner from scratch for my husband and I insist that there were typographical errors in my recipe book that lead me astray. But Charlie pretended to love it all anyway and I pretended to look away just long enough for him to drop most of the dinner into the trash. Love is lovely and keep up the good work,

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Iggy Braithwait should have been enjoying some much needed time in the deserved lime light, but she wasn't having any of it. Quite the contrary, she spent a good deal of effort denying any part of it. Well, Isabel was quite right, I think, saying that Iggy's problem was in getting beyond the discovery that she'd been shopping at The Second Hand store. Really no way around it, of course. After all, it's not as if Babson Hurley's necklace was in the front window. It was clearly resting smack in the center of the inside display case, and Iggy most certainly had inserted her entire self into the store to be able to spot it. The necklace, that is. Naturally, a nice piece like that would be in a special setting. Poor Mr. Heung, nice sweet man that he is. He was quite besides himself knowing that one of the lifted items ended up in hs store. He asked me to come with him in taking the necklace over to the Hurley's house. And I would have gone, too, but the Police were absolutely unreasonable insisting that it, the necklace that is, was evidence and needed to stay with them. Babson made a very nice point to send Mr. Heung a thank you note and from what I could gather they made plans for coffee next week. Of course, I learned this from Mr. Heung and I'm not entirely certain if that is their plan. Could be they're on for a game of paddle tennis. Doesn't speak English, Mr. Heung. But he is so good at acting things out.

But back to Iggy. I had all good intent to chat with her about the goings on at The Second Hand, but she never did show up for our Women's Club meeting yesterday. Isabel says that she, Iggy that is, is laying short. Or down. Something to do with her keeping out of our eyesight. Now I do think she should just show off her finds at The Second Hand, put a quick stop to some of the snickering going on with some of the women. After all, The Second Hand is a marvelous place to find gems and treasures.

In fact, it was just yesterday, at our meeting, that I was quite proud to stand and show off the Royal Albert tea cups I'd found there last summer and I said so, too. That is, I said that I found the tea cups at The Second Hand and now I'm donating them as part of our tea cup drive. Well, that's when I had my idea. Just as I was about to take some applause I had my idea, gave a nod to Isabel and skooted out the door and on over to Iggy's.

Well, we were a bit out of breath, the two of us, me mostly for having to chase Iggy round to her back yard before she gave up and agreed to speak to me. Iggy was breathless because she admitted she'd been dodging quite a few of the women. Silly really. She's always been a stunner, Iggy has, what with those green eyes and porceline skin. But, poor thing says she's taken to The Second Hand since putting on a few pounds these past few years. Says she finds the things in Mr. Heung's little store are a bit roomier. And she is quite correct. Mr. Heung's English is not all that and he tends to put "size 8" on most all of the Ladies merchandise. I found that interesting myself when several items were just swimming on me and I'm absolutely certain I've not been dieting. Now we do get on well together, Mr. Heung and I. Naturally he confided in me that "8" is the only English number he knows how to write. Or possibly what he meant to convey was that size doesn't matter. He is a very insightful man, you know.

But the point here is that I had a plan, a good one, too, on how to salvage poor Iggy's fragile reputation with the other ladies. After all, I found such a smart set of tea cups at The Second Hand, it seems quite reasonable that Iggy would also find a nice set of tea cups. And that is what is important at the moment. Tea cups. We are, after all, right in the middle of our spring Tea Cup drive at the club. It's no small wonder that Iggy has become an absolute fan of my advice column, now that she is convinced that I am brilliant. Of course, we still had to visit The Second Hand to actually find some more tea cups. And that is how we realized that Iggy may just have started a trend amongst our women's club. We were on our way to The Second Hand when we saw Constance Cortnoy leaving the store.

"I bet she's stocking up on silver wear for her tailgate party," Iggy breathed in shock, realizing that Constance's tailgate party may be second hand, too. As for me, I'm not concerned where someone acquires their finer goods. I was finally going to get a nice set of food and water bowls for Betsy Perkins and her Mr. Marmalade.

But I didn't dilly dally long, not when Iggy reminded me that I had more advice to give.

Dear Veronica,
I have a friend who will do almost anything to get attention. It drives me nuts. Just because the burglar broke into my house and took a set of Vera Wang china from my house, she had to go and have the burglar brake into her house, too. Only, there's not much to take of any value, she has no nice jewelry and her china is all chipped. So she went and got herself even more attention then me because the burglar actually left her a nice diamond tennis bracelet that he'd lifted from another house.
No China

Dear China,
He really is a nice man, that burglar. I think he may have given my friend a cat.

Friday, April 3, 2009


The thing about second hands is that you've got to be the right sort to appreciate them. So many people look down on things just because someone else has had them first. Or maybe because they're not entirely new. But then what would that say about Charlie? He's no spring chicken and I think he's absolutely priceless. Not that Charlie has been had by someone else, I certainly think that he has not. But that is really not the direction I was going here.

Isabel says that she and I can appreciate a good second hand something because we are comfortable in our own skin and we enjoy the hunt. Isabel is so good with words, really, she should be penning the advice column, absolutely. And her advice is always spot on, you know. I would never think to compare being comfortable with enjoying a good browse thru a garage sale or trip to the Second Hand store. But I do. Enjoy the garage sales and Second Hand store, that is. And I've found some lovely things, too. Why just last summer I picked up a set of 6 Royal Albert tea cups, with saucers, at the Second Hand store. And what a good thing I did because my Women's Club is holding a tea cup drive at the moment, and now I have 6 tea cups already without even having to dip into my good china.

But it was really not the tea cups that day, but a nice gift for Betsy Perkins and her cat, Mr. Marmalade, that prompted me to head out again to the Second Hand store over on West Avenue. A very nice Korean man owns the shop. And though he doesn't speak but a lick of English, we manage to get on with one another quite well. Sometimes, if I'm looking for something in particular and don't see it on display, I'll act out what I'm looking for. Oh Mr. Hueng loves this. He, that's the Second Hand's owner, oh he'll laugh and then he'll act out his answer. Quite amusing, I think, to other customers. But we do enjoy our exchanges. So that day I was all prepared to act out the part of a cat, Mr. Marmalade to be exact. I even practiced round my garden. But there would be no shopping for kitty china once I popped in and found the Officers there.

When I arrived, Captain Leighton and another officer that I don't know where already in the Second Hand in the middle of a conversation with Mr. Heung. Well you can imagine how difficult the discussion was, what with Captain Leighton wanting specific details and poor Mr. Heung trying to act out something that even I couldn't quite understand. He waived frantically, Mr. Heung that is, when he saw me enter. "Missa Toonup" he yelled, and that would be me, except that Mr. Heung pronounces my last name 'Toonup' instead of Turnip. And Missus he pronounces 'Missa'. Not to worry, though, because I know exactly what he is saying so I went straight over to the officer's and offered to help.

Oh well, they said, official police business, privileged and top secret things and what not. But I said to them, they'll get no where fast with Mr. Heung the way they're going about it and it's best to accept a bit of favor when favor is offered. "Missa Toonup", Mr. Heung pointed at me nodding his head yes furiously, trying his utmost to convey to the officers that I could, indeed, be of assistance.

Now it seems that someone found a necklace belonging to Babson Hurley in the Second Hand. It was a lovely, turquoise piece made by Diane Schratweiser personally. I remember when Babson got the necklace, it was at an event held by our Women's club and Diane Schratweiser had a jewelry showing there and we all fought over that particular piece. Well, naturally Babson was able to out big us all and then wore it, the necklace that is, when ever she felt like showing off. Just as well, though, it was for charity and all that. So I did indeed recognize the necklace, sitting right there in the front of the display case. Why, had I arrived before the officers I would have recognized it straight off. But apparently, Iggy Braithwaite had been in before me and alerted Captain Leighton. "Babs would never hawk her Diane Schratweiser," Iggy is supposed to have said. Which is absolutely true, but more intriguing is that Iggy Braithwaite was shopping in the Second Hand. Mind you, I'm a tremendous fan of the Second Hand, but I'm quite upfront about that, too. Iggy, on the other hand, maintains a certain air of Retail Snobbery that forbids shopping the Second Hand, and I dare say she would faint at the thought of a garage sale. Yes, the Second Hand and garage sales are Isabel and my territory. I'm sure that Isabel would have something brilliant to say about Iggy's being in the Second Hand.

But the point here is that Babson Hurley's Diane Schratweiser turquoise necklace has ended up in the Second Hand without Babson's permission. And what's more, the police were quite positive that this exact same piece is one that had been lifted by The Burglar just a few weeks ago from the Hurley's home. Well, naturally, they wanted a bit of an explanation from Mr. Heung. The officers, that is. Not the Hurleys. I did my best to convey the situation to Mr. Heung.

I pretended to crawl thru a window and tip toe through the store, pretended to look to my right and left and then nick a piece of jewelry into my bag and tip toe away. Well, Mr. Heung does do well at this and in no time he was pointing at me and shouting out, he does shout quite a bit, "Boiler! Boiler! Yes! Boiler!". I returned what I'd pretended to nick and got down to my job of translating. I picked up the necklace and pretended to enter the store and pretend to sell it to Mr. Heung. He got that pretty well and I think he understood enough to begin giving the police quite a good description of the person who sold him the necklace.

I was very impressed with Mr. Heung, but I'm quite disappointed in Captain Leighton's response. "A white male, you think, taller than five feet two inches and had some sort of hair, maybe." Captain Leighton and the other officer kept shaking their heads in that frazzled, disappointed way that Mr. Petigrew tends to do. Well, I thought that they'd made quite a bit of progress, I told them. Narrowing things down, the way they had.

"Mrs. Turnip," Captain Leighton sighed, "you've been very helpful, but since 98% of this town is white, we really haven't narrowed it down much at all". Ah but, I reminded them, only half of the town is male, so now the field has been narrowed to 48%. And with that, I once again forgot to pick out a nice set of china for Betsy and Mr. Marmalade, just so excited I was to run straight over to The Weekly.

Mr. Petigrew was absolutely astounded when I told him that I'd just assisted the police with an interrogation. "Why you?" he kept asking, scratching that shiny head of his. Well, I explained, they had no choice, "Mr. Heung doesn't speak English!". Once again, Mr. Petigrew mumbled something about how he really should have taken a look at my qualifications earlier and actually, how funny he is, said he had no idea that I speak Korean. "I don't speak Korean at all!" I laughed. Just as well, he, Mr. Petigrew that is, was able to run a nice big headline saying "Police Narrow Search for Burglar To All White Male's over 5 ft 2 inches".

Mr. Petigrew even managed some sort of smile this week when I turned in my column.

Dear Veronica,
My neighbor seems to have found my golf clubs in his house. Says he found them one morning sitting by a broken window. I absolutely had no part in leaving them there, or even taking them there in the first place. He claims he didn't take them, and went further than that by saying he wouldn't have them even as a gift.

Dear Four,
People do find the oddest things in their houses, especially atics. I once found a box full of old Barbie dolls, most with their hair cut off. Anyway, I think a nice thank you note would have been more appropriate on your neighbor's part. Still, you can't very well take them back now that you've given them, despite the ungracious attitude.