Yes, yes, Samuel Pepys. I’m reading his diary and I want the whole thing now! I want to read all eleven volumes, unexpurgated. The whole shebang. You know. He’s always… I’m reading a… a… just excerpts now, which, you know, I’m sure the editor’s doin’ me a big favor, but I don’t trust him for some reason. How does he know what I like? I mean, sure, he’s got a lot of stuff about periwigs in there and I’m like, “Yeah! Give me more… give me more, uh, of your periwig problems, Samuel Pepys!” I like it when he’s like, “Hmm, should I wear a periwig? I don’t know, the King wears one.” I’m gonna loosely paraphrase Samuel Pepys for you. And this goes on for… [laughter] not only days, but years. [Laughter.] Uh, they’re—you know, he talks about other things, but the periwig is never far from his mind.
“I don’t know, the King’s wearin’ a periwig, maybe I’ll get my hair cut and wear a periwig instead of keepin’ my hair long. All right! I’m gonna wear my periwig to church! People are gonna totally freak out!”
And then nobody notices or cares.
And he doesn’t say this, but I have the feeling he’s a little…
[A cat meows.]
I have a feeling he’s a little put out that no one was more… scandalized by his periwig.
Then his periwig get nits in it and he’s like, “This isn’t… that’s not the way a periwig… this! Uh! Man! My barber really, uh, I’ve gotta go back… I’m gonna tell my barber a th—my barber beb—better fix my p—periwig from, uh, you know, exterminate the nits! Uh, ah, I’m not payin’ big money for a nit-filled periwig!” [Laughter.]
And then, uh…
I forget what the latest periwig thing that came up, uh…
Some, uh, th—and, you know, this is some years after his initial decision to wear a periwig.
[A vehicle rumbles by. A sigh.]
He puts it on and makes all the maids look at it.
“What do you guys think?”
“Oh, yes, your periwig’s very nice, sir.”
What are they gonna say?
Eh, theh, henhh, he… beats one of his maids. He and his wife, I think! Do they beat her together and lock her in the cellar overnight?
This is not a… you know, wasn’t a good time to… it wasn’t a good time for domestic service.
Let me see, I just got the book out.
It’s so dark. Very, uh, cloudy day. It’s… looks like evening almost outside, yet it’s on—merely eleven in the morning or so.
Sorry, that long pause was…
Uh, I really thought I was gonna sneeze. I really, ruh, I thought, well… I was of two minds.
Let’s see. What happened with that periwig?
[Pages of a book flipping.]
Oh, I meant to tell… my friend Carlotta about this… part… not the periwigs. The fact that, uh, so anyway, Samuel Pepys goes to a wedding and… do you know that, that slumber party game “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” where… girls would chant [sniff] that phrase, and then you could put your finge—they could… uh… like put one finger each under s—a large person and levitate them off the ground? Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s an old… I remember it being done when I was a kid.
You know, some sort of… I don’t know the… rationale behind it.
But anyway, Samuel Pepys goes to a wedding and…
Some dude tells him about a similar game played in France and he can’t… oh, it blows Samuel Pepys’s mind. He’s freakin’ out, man. He’s like… “What? Are these Protestants or Catholics?”
“Well, these are Protestants,” says his friend.
And Samuel Pepys is, “No way! Are you tellin’ me four little Protestant girls put their finger under a large fat guy and lifted him off the ground by chanting?”
Where was that…? [Short laugh.] I know this… whenever I find the periwig thing it’s not going to be interesting at all.
There’s a lot of bad stuff goin’ on! It’s 1665, the plague is comin’ to town.
[Pause. Pages flipping. Breathing. Silence.]
He drinks some buttered ale and throws up a lot.
Went over to a friend’s house that has a hive of bees encased in glass so you can see ‘em make honey. That’s… he’s very excited about that! That was a… that was a big day. That was a big day for Samuel Pepys.
[Pause. Throat noise. Very long pause. Page flipping.]
Just flippin’ through some pages.
[Very long pause. Pages flipping. Pause continues. Pages. Pause. Pages. Pages. Pause. Pages. Very long pause.]
Well, I don’t know. Somethin’ happened with his periwig. I don’t know, he probably just got his hair cut again. You gotta get your hair cut short! He thinks about it a lot. You gotta get your hair cut short so your periwig will fit… [Pages flipping.]
Oh! Here we go.
Oh, yeah! He just went to check on his periwig.
[Short laugh.] That’s all!
He went to check on his periwig. “How’s—how’s my periwig comin’, boys?”
But at the same time there’s this person Jane, and I… I can’t… I’m not sure who Jane is in relation… is that his… it seems to be someone he’s got a particular… he needs to look out for her, but she’s talking about marrying a guy who’s… and this is, uh, a scandal, he… he plays the fiddle for a living! So, much like modern times, nobody wants anybody they care about marrying a musician.
So… when he went to check on his periwig, he heard news of Jane and how she shacked up with this no-good musician, and not even, uh… marrying him! So… that’s goin’ on.
Well, that was a lot of thumbing through pages to no great… [sigh] no real reward for any of us.
This way to the next one (with more Pepys!)
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.
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