Though I enjoy Sherlock Holmes enormously, and have read and re-read most of the mysteries several times; the part where good ol’ Sherlock starts making observations about a prospective client seemingly out of nothing; like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat; makes me pause every time and say ‘oh come now, it's not quite as elementary as that, my dear Sherlock!’
I say so because (a) it's time somebody made Holmes leave poor Watson alone, and (b) In real life, just because a man is wearing a shirt with a missing button doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a wife.
There’s a whole host of possibilities behind the missing button, for example (a) His wife doesn’t like sewing buttons on shirts, (b) she’d run out of buttons, but this was his favorite shirt and he wore it anyway, (c) it had popped out in his headlong rush to Sherlock’s house, because frankly, if your father in law is putting snakes through the air vents at night to kill you; you would be in a tearing hurry as well. And all this talk of missing buttons and a lack of wives would seem bally extraneous and rubbing salt in the wound, old fruit.
A friend of mine told me a story about a girl he knew in college who’d called him up one day and said “I’m in love with my best friend, should I tell him how I feel?’ He realized she was talking about him and told her in no uncertain terms that it was best for her not to say anything to her ‘best friend’ because her ‘best friend’ probably didn’t love her back, and in fact, didn’t consider her his best friend. (Ouch, I say.)
As I listened to this story a puzzling conversation from a long time ago in my own life; nearly a decade; fell into place with a rusty but almighty CLANG. I have these occasionally; something which didn’t make sense at the time would lie coiled up in my subconscious; until a decade or two later some other event pokes it in the eye -- and it leaps up with a prodigious “Sweet Mother of God, that’s what that was!?!”
This anecdote of my friend’s reminded me of a VERY similar conversation I had with another friend of mine (let’s call him B) when I was in my second year of college. We were talking on the phone and I said to him, “You know what, a very close friend of mine seems to be acting a little different nowadays, I wonder if he has a crush on me. Do you think I should talk to him about it?” Usually a very nice guy, B replied with unusual venom “Every guy isn’t in love with you, you know. This friend of yours probably isn’t either.”
I was stung to the quick, because whatever my faults, thinking everyone is in love with me was not one of them. Quite the opposite. I puzzled over B’s vehemence for quite a long time after that, but forgot about it eventually, because he has always been, apart from that one sharp comment, unstintingly sweet to me.
And then with this recent story 10 years later, the truth dawned on me awfully. (Awfully!). Oh the shame of it all! To be thought of as so presumptuous! I really was talking about another friend (C), and not B.
And all the while, as C made sheep eyes at me and wrote me poetry, I kept thinking, “Ushasi, this guy doesn’t have a crush on you! Remember what B said!” Stupid, stupid me didn’t realize that B had only made such a retort because he’d thought it was my roundabout way of asking him if HE liked me. Grooooaan. To even think I could say such a thing to him, and his thinking that I thought such a thing, made my toes curl in embarrassment, even 10 years on.
Moral of the story is: If you see me with a cane made of an exotic wood found only in the deepest jungles of Papua New Guinea, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m an intrepid adventurer. It might mean I walked down and got it from the store around the corner.
Think of this before jumping to conclusions next time: Two and two sometimes does make four.