No, wait — let me correct that. This is not just Captain Condescending looming before you. Rather, this is the Honorable Curtess Mayfair Smoot Condescending, Fourteenth Lord of Dumfro, Captain of Her Royal Majesty’s Sovereign Foot Guard, Ranking Officer of The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Standing Regiment (29th/45th Foot), Bearer of the Thistle and Fawn Medallion, as well as the Holeroyd Ribbon, and Holder of the Keys to the Queen’s Pool House Privies and Storerooms.
(After all, how do you expect him to rise to his truly towering heights of condescension if you don’t get his complete title correct from the start?)
Though the glowering Captain owns up to no more than 82 and one half years of wear and tear upon his broadly leonine skull, I’d swear this guy has to have been around since the heyday of Charles Dickens — the mid-1800s — considering the extremely caricatured and dramatic and oh-so-bloody-Rule-Brittania! demeanor and priggish rectitude he perpetually projects. (Not only that, but his musty and fusty garb must surely date from a previous century or earlier!)
It is never quite enough for C.C. to begin spouting Latin or Greek or even Aramaic mid-sentence, fully expecting you to be able to follow along. Oh, no, not by a long toss, old sport. Begin a discussion on the philosophical pronouncements of Aristotle, and before you can get out a word or two on human motivation as a lens of reality, he’s already interrupting, tossing in bits of Abelard, obscure theories of William Ernst Hocking, and — for good measure — some forgotten scribblings of Taisen Deshimaru.
Compliment him on his fine Spode bone china tea set, and he will pointedly note that you happen to be using the wrong spoon (and are grasping it incorrectly to boot). Mention your recent week among the tourist attractions of Rome, and he’ll be off on reminiscences of personally caressing the original etchings that comprised Piranesi’s famed Roman Antiquities of the Time of the First Republic and the First Emperors (Antichita Romane de’ tempo della prima Repubblica e dei primi imperatori), while touring the famed engraver’s home and studio as a young man.
The man is most insufferable.
I recently had the misfortune of mentioning in his presence my interest in the taxonomy of classification of flora, particularly certain fruiting plants. Several hours later, after an endless lecture about taxons, ontological rigor, fruiting bodies versus seedpods, and a lengthy aside on the peculiar pollinating strategies of several subspecies of Bombus terrestris (the common bumblebee), I roused myself from stupefied somnolence to crystallize in my mind how many ways I’d love to kill the man!
Which is why, though the learned Captain is considered by virtually one and all to be an authority on a vast array of esoteric topics, he has been bounced from one pedagogical setting to the next. After the University College of London had had their fill of him, he managed to secure a spot at Cambridge. For merely one term. Oxford was next — less than a full term. Princeton gave the man a spin for almost four months, before sending him packing along to Harvard. Harvard saw the light in just weeks, and it was back to London and the Imperial College for C.C. Fortunately, the man has circulated a thousand or so curriculum vitae to the next several hundreds of prestigious universities the globe ‘round.
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