Wed, 19 Jan 2000

Dear Mister Tupperware,

My refrigerator has a problem. It thinks that it is a freezer. Today it had frozen the lettuce, broccoli, and tofu quite solid. I hate to check what happened to the rice milk! How do I get the darned appliance to repent its evil ways? (I've already turned it to the lowest setting possible).

Also, if a vegetarian gets a cold, are they allowed to eat chicken noodle soup?

And looking at that last sentence, I note that the only way to have a gender-neutral he/she term in this language is to switch to the neutral (but numerically incorrect) "they." Can you suggest a solution to this grammatical peril?

--Chilliam William


Dear Lil Penguin,

QUERY THE FIRST, The Refrigerator: Always the universe remains in balance. Somewhere out there is a person whose shower scalds them every morning, having drawn off the extra heat from your appliance. You must find this person, for together you are destined to have a child who will rid the world of unpleasant belly button lint.

QUERY THE SECOND, The Vegetarian: You know, the best part of the chicken is the noodle. No, they cannot eat animal-based soups, not even if it is a tried and true remedy. If a vegetarian gets a cold they are allowed to remain silent. Any complaining they do will be used against them in a court of their peers. Aren't they supposed to be healthy or something? Serves 'em right.

QUERY THE THIRD, The Gender Pronoun: Aside from "s/he" (a nifty little innovation that appears in some of your finer comic magazines), you might solve the gender-neutral problem by restructuring your sentences to avoid pronoun trouble. Instead of "Also, if a vegetarian gets a cold, are they allowed to eat chicken noodle soup?" you might say, "If sick with a cold, might a vegetarian hypocritically turn to meat in an effort to feel better? Would this break some sort of Vegetarian High Council by-law? Would this vegetarian be run out into the street and devoured by hounds? Please? Please?" It's a bit longer, but well worth the effort, I'd say.