Thursday, February 5, 2009

There are no simple answers.

In this post I am going to answer the puzzler question of February 4th, to wit: Why did Carolina say to Billy Ray Barnwell that her father often says “If I didn’t have ears, I would be blind” and what prompted her to reveal it?

Several people submitted answers.

Ruth said, “He’s an alien from Neptune whose neurological system is wired differently from ours. He said it often to remind his children of their Neptunian heritage because they were in danger of being assimilated into Earthling culture.” Clever, Ruth.

Reamus said, “The expression means literally, to not see something that was quite obvious (as the nose on his face). He said it often because his sense of the obvious was not as keen as yours. She said it because she missed some crucial point in the compelling novel and you kindly pointed it out to her (such as that you didn’t write it, Billy Ray did).” Thoughtful, Reamus.

Rosezilla said, “I don’t know...could it be that a WORD is worth a thousand PICTURES?” Weird, Rose, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what your answer means.

Those answers are all wrong, and let me just say here that I feel your pain.

Understanding the right answer will require that I give you a little background first, beginning with the questions begging to be asked, which are “Who is Billy Ray Barnwell?” and “Who is Carolina?”

It is always good to begin at the beginning. Last month I created a second blog called Billy Ray Barnwell Here to contain a book I spent half a year writing called, oddly enough, Billy Ray Barnwell Here. The book itself is finished and static, but the blog is alive and kicking through its comments section. You can read both (the book and the comments) at your leisure or never. It’s your choice. You might like them, or you might decide they're not your cup of tea.

Someone who reads both blogs is “Pat - An Arkansas Stamper” and on February 1st she posted this short message on the Billy Ray Barnwell blog: “Dear Billy Ray, You and your alter ego have an award at my place” and added a little smiley face at the end. By “alter ego” I suppose she meant me. The award was cute, it had the words "I like your style" at the top and a little lion wearing a blue dress and blue flip-flops, and at the bottom there was a little Bible verse, First Corinthians 7:7, that said, “Each one has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.”

I promptly added the award to my sidebar with the words, “This award came from Pat of Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper in February 2009.” Billy Ray Barnwell also added it to his sidebar with the words, “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had nothing to do with the following award. It came from "Pat - An Arkansas Stamper" about whom I know very little, only that her name is Pat and she lives in Arkansas and is a stamper and likes my style. Oh, and also, thanks to a comment she left on this blog, that she was born in Yorktown Texas about 35 miles from her mama’s home town of Victoria, so she is really from Texas and not from Arkansas at all, Pat I mean, not her mama, who as far as I know never once claimed to be either a stamper or from Arkansas. (Feb 2009)”

Which demonstrates for all to see, I hope, that what the award says is true. My gift is of one kind and Billy Ray Barnwell’s is of another.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So I wrote a little thank-you post on this blog and Billy Ray Barnwell posted the following comment on his:

“Well, thank you, Pat - An Arkansas Stamper, I will retrieve the award you have kindly given me and add it quickly to the sidebar area of my blog, posthaste you might say, ha ha ha, I made a little joke, I do thank you for thinking of me, especially after reading my book and all, although I can't imagine why you think I have an altered ego, I do not now nor have I ever had an altered ego, I still have the very same one I started out with originally, but one thing it would be very nice to have at this stage in my life is an enhanced libido, if you know where I might could find one of those I would appreciate your letting me know, the posthaster the better. This dadblamed computer still thinks I am rhymeswithplague and I most certainly am not, I am me, myself, and I and the three of us are very happy to know one another, I read something the other day about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) but the only people I have run across who might could fit that description are that couple who had twins and then had sextuplets, Jon and Kate Plus Eight on the TLC channel, they are really one stressed-out mommy and daddy, I would be too if I had all those kids screaming in my ear all day long, I actually have two ears, I'm not claiming to be Vincent Van Gogh.”

This is where Carolina comes in.

On February 3, Carolina, a first-time commenter, wrote to Billy, “Yes, well, uhm, I came here through Pat from Arkansas, who isn’t from Arkansas, and if you don’t mind I will join your ‘followers’ with the intention to read your book because I really like the recommendations on the cover! Can’t wait to read more!”

And Billy replied, “Carolina, welcome, welcome, and the more the merrier, I always say. Well actually I don’t always say that, I haven’t said it in a long time and if I did always say it I wouldn’t get much of anything else said at all, now would I? I see you are in the Netherlands or maybe that is The Netherlands, I for one have always admired the way Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in favor of Queen Juliana and then Queen Juliana abdicated in favor of Queen Beatrix, but Her Majesty Elizabeth II in Great Britain is still going strong at eighty-something after 56 years as monarch, do you think Prince Charles will ever get to be king? I do believe you are the first commenter I have ever asked two questions of, don’t you feel special? That makes three. Happy reading!”

The next day Carolina posted,

“Dear Sir,

In answer to your questions:
1. No
2. No (which reminds me: when he’s wearing a hat my father always says: “If I didn't have ears I would be blind,” or actually he says: “Het is maar goed dat ik oren heb, anders was ik nu blind geweest.”)
3. Yes

Thank you.”

Her answer must have caught Billy off-guard, because he replied, “Carolina, what a pleasant surprise to receive your answers to my questions, I wasn’t expecting them, your answers I mean, not my questions, because when I asked the questions I thought they were rhetorical, but this internet thing makes for two-way, if somewhat delayed, conversation, n’est-ce pas?, that last phrase is French for “isn’t it so?” and is a very useful phrase that can be added to just about any statement so it can mean “don’t you think so?” or “wouldn’t you?” or “doesn’t it?” or “aren’t they?” or just about anything you want it to. I was confused at first about your father’s statement but then I figured out after a little while that he prolly wears glasses and the earpieces go over, guess what, his ears, and without his glasses he would be blind, but I am still unsure why he says that when he’s wearing a hat, wouldn’t it also be true even when he’s not wearing a hat? You don’t have to answer that one, but I would still like to know whether it is the Netherlands or The Netherlands and where Holland comes into the picture.”

A few minutes later, Billy wrote, “Carolina, P.S., I am even more confused now, what does your father’s statement have to do with whether Prince Charles will ever be king of England?”

And Carolina answered, “Usually, if my father says something, everybody is confused. I inherited that gift. He means: his ears prevent the hat from covering his eyes. And I had this image in my head of Prince Charles wearing a crown and then I thought of his ears. That’s why they are the size they are! (Ironically my father is actually going blind, whether he’s wearing a hat or not. But that’s another story.)

“I’m not so sure if it is The Netherlands or the Netherlands and when it’s Holland. I feel so stupid now. We just say Nederland. It’s you people outside our borders that make it so difficult! Now I’m confused!”

Billy replied, “Carolina in Nederland, I guess that makes you a Nederlander, n’est-ce pas?, and saying Carolina in Nederland strikes me as being almost like saying Alice in Wonderland, I could put another n’est-ce pas? here but I won’t, I’m glad you explained the relationship between your father’s hat (a hat had not occurred to me) and his going blind and Prince Charles’s ears, I suppose that should be among and not between since we’re speaking of more than two objects, why, your father’s ears alone are two objects unless his name is Vincent Van Gogh, to name a Nederlander of another era, and you don’t need to feel stupid unless you have never heard of Vincent Van Gogh.”

Once again, Billy wrote a postscript a few minutes later. He said, “Carolina in Nederland, P.S. again, are you saying that the reason Prince Charles’s ears are the size they are is to keep his crown, if he were wearing one, from covering his eyes? I guess we in the U.S. are not the only ones with freedom of speech after all, but I would caution you not to say it when you are in England, because even if a huge portion of the English populace would prolly agree with you it is always considered rude to insult one’s hosts, at least it used to be.”

Carolina replied, “Vincent van Gogh? No, doesn't ring a bell. (Just joking.) I like Carolina in Nederland. Do you think saying that someone has big ears, when he actually has big ears, and that they might come in handy some day is an insult? I don't. It's just a practical observation. I can think of other things to say that will be insulting, but I will not put them in writing here because someone once told me that everything you write on the internet or text or say through your telephone is monitored by huge whatdoyoucallthosethings and that the FBI or CIA or MI5 or 6 will be on your doorstep soon afterwards if they think that would be the appropriate action to take. Better safe than sorry.

“What I am sorry for is taking up so much of your time, but the way you write is quite infectious, or is catching a better word? Anyway, chapter three of your writing is on tomorrow’s agenda. Like it so far!”

Billy Ray then wrote, “Carolina in Nederland, I think saying that someone has big ears, when he actually has big ears, and that they might come in handy some day is perfectly all right to say to your significant other, if you have one, in the privacy of your own home, if you have one, provided he or she is not the one with the big ears, but it is not something I would recommend you go around saying to people on the street because some of the people on the street might be friends of the person who has the big ears and take umbrage at what you are saying about their friend and you might could find yourself involved in an altercation or worse, that’s what I think, I have never been one to say provocative things though, and even though the truth will set you free it can also land you in the hospital or in jail, so a word to the wise [should be sufficient, as we say in English], and please don’t be sorry for taking up so much of my time, I love to interact with my readers, maybe I should be sorry for taking up so much of your time here in the comments when you could be reading more of the book proper, not that there is any such thing as a book improper, of mine anyway, but let me warn you if you want to improve your English writing skills I may not be the one you should be emulating, especially in the area of punctuation and sentence length, you might try old rhymeswithplague sometime, he is a bit more conversant with how to turn a phrase than I am even though I hate to admit it.”

Carolina replied, “Point taken.”

Here endeth the reading of the dialogue between Carolina in the Netherlands or The Netherlands or Nederland or Holland or wherever she is and Billy Ray Barnwell. Thanks be to God! Carolina hasn’'t been heard from since. Perhaps she never made it past Chapter 3.

I didn’t mean to bend your ear or test your patience, but some things just can’t be helped.

I have decided that Rosezilla is right. A word IS worth a thousand pictures.

But I still don’t know what Carolina’s father’s hat has to do with whether Prince Charles will ever be king of England.

Do you?


  1. yes, maybe we do have many things in common, but i bethinks you are much more intellegent than i's....your puzzelers are real are witty while i am mundane...there are no simple answers is or is it are correcct.??????????i like the alien response since i have seen an alien in rush valley, no not roswell in my early teens at 2am with a blinding 1000,000 watt light shining the way...barnwell i have read and found fascinating, but find it hard to deal with your the putz

  2. Putz (David), I am witty far too infrequently and I'm sure you are definitely not mundane. My puzzlers and my puzzlers; what can I say? Except I really didn't expect anyone to get this one!

    Dr. John, Smile when you say that, pardner! I'm afraid I don't know what a phylarologist is and can't find it in a dictionary. Do you mean philologist or perhaps something else?

  3. Correction - I meant to say, my puzzlers are my puzzlers. Doesn't make sense the other way.

  4. Oh dear, I hope I did not upset Mr. Billy Ray Barnwell or anyone else for that matter. And I just left a comment on his book-blog to say how much I enjoy reading it.
    This is my first visit to the rhymeswithplague-blog, due to other obligations, like riding our own Silver, who is called Willem or actually Lafleur, and imagine my surprise to find a post dedicated to the little 'discussion' we (have?) had about the ears/hat/blindness-connection. The connection between my fathers hat and the question if Prince Charles will ever be king is non-existent. It is just the way my mind works, very confusing. Not only to me apparently.
    Ruth's answer to your question is probably not far beside the truth. Not long ago actually Jinksy (to be found at
    asked me if I was actually from, or was it on?, this planet. Who knows.

    Confused as always,
    yours truly,
    Carolina in Nederland

  5. Carolina, I'm sure you haven't upset Billy Ray Barnwell in the least. It takes a lot to upset Billy Ray Barnwell. I can tell from your comment about Silver that you did make it through Chapter 3 over there, and may I say Willem Lafleur would be a wonderful name for a motion picture actor. We already have one named Willem Dafoe who was not born in Holland at all but in Appleton, Wisconsin.

    Your comment is so chock full of facts and information that I hereby reserve the right to comment further, perhaps later.

  6. Carolina in Nederland, I think there really must be a connection between your father's hat and whether Prince Charles will ever be king of England; we just have to keep looking for it. Did you know that your own name, Carolina, is the feminine version of the Latin equivalent of the name Charles? King Charles II of Great Britain named what is now the states of North and South Carolina here in the U.S. in honor of his father, Charles I, and there was also a man named Charles Edward Stuart who was known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" who would have become Charles III but never did. I suppose the current Bonnie Prince Charlie of the house of Windsor-Mountbatten, who is already in his sixties, may never become king if Elizabeth II keeps going as long as her own mother did, but even if he does he might not be called Charles III, he could also be called George VI or even Philip or Arthur as his full name is Charles Philip Arthur George, which Princess Diana stumbled over during their wedding and called him Charles Arthur Philip George. I'm beginning to sound like Billy Ray Barnwell again, so it's time for me to stop.

  7. Talking about a comment full of facts, yours is fuller of facts than mine.
    Actually, I did not know that Carolina is the feminine version of the Latin equivalent of the name Charles. One learns something every day. My father has always told us (his offspring) that we come from a very well-known and rich family, never mentioning which family that was. Therefore we always thought that this background existed solely between his ears (there they are again). Would it not be interesting if we (his offspring) would some day find out that in fact we are related to the Bonnie Prince Charlie? I fear however that it would take a long time searching for that connection. But it would explain a lot if we found it!

    I am glad that no one was offended so far. Except for me mentioning the size of His Royal Highness's ears, but since we most likely are family he will hopefully forgive me for that.
    There is always hope!

    Still confused,
    yours faithfully,
    Carolina in Nederland

  8. Carolina in Nederland, I left out a lot of facts I could have mentioned, including some about Charlemagne ((742-814), listed as King Charles I of in the list of monarchs of France, Germany, and the Holy Roman Empire. His rule is associated with the "Carolingian Renaissance" revival of art, religion, and culture in the Middle Ages. According to Wikipedia, "Today he is regarded not only as the founding father of both French and German monarchies, but also as the father of Europe: his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Romans, and the Carolingian renaissance encouraged the formation of a common European identity."

    Talk about a well-known and rich family!....

  9. It is very gratifying to know that my answer turned out to be right, even though none of us - oops, I mean YOU - didn't know what I meant by it. (Are you sure you meant to say "weird" and not "mysterious enigma"?)The thing about the glasses makes sense and applies to me for sure, but now I'm thinking all kinds of esoteric thoughts about whether I'd rather be blind or deaf...and how I can work "geweest" in to an English sentence.

  10. It is very gratifying to know that people are still commenting on this very long post.

    Okay, Rosezille, I'll split the difference with you. You are both weird AND a mysterious enigma. How's that? :>)

    That last challenge is easy: When the American frontier was opened up for settlement, it was Horace Greeley who said, "Geweest, young man!" :>(

    Unless it's pronounced guh-VEEST, and then you're on your own.

  11. Oops, pardon me, I meant Rosezilla, not Rosezille.

  12. Goodness gracious! How on Earth did I miss the start of such a conversation with the delightful Carolina? I had the honour of becoming her very first follower, and the longer I know her, the longer I applaud that decision. She's a star. Which just goes to show ahe is from aother planet, for sure...

    Word verification, believe it or not, is actually 'kings'! Spooky, or what? Or are more ears getting in on the act?