ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the September 2014 Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer and [personal profile] helgatwb. It also fills the "indecent proposal" square in my 6-11-14 card for the [community profile] fanbingo fest and the "Frankenstein" square in my 9-11-14 card for the Halloween Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

WARNING: This poem contains rude behavior and sexual harassment.  If those are sensitive topics for you, please consider your state of mind before deciding whether to read onward.




"An Inconvenient Proposal"


The tea merchant Ediit Kalmár
had a daughter and ambition.
She came from the city and
made a loop through the villages,
selling finer quality tea than could be had
from the merchants of mixed goods.

Ediit approached Victor with a proposal
that was both indecent and inconvenient:
She wanted him to marry her daughter Terézia.

This was not new.

Victor had been propositioned
many times while he still lived with his parents,
although then the offers had come from men
in whom he was not interested.

After he moved away
and established himself as a man,
he began to get offers from young women,
or more often, offers for women from their parents.
He was not interested in these either,
having learned the hard way that
no woman wanted a husband
whose body looked like her own.

It was the money, of course,
and the prestige that attracted them.
Victor was an educated man, a doctor
from a fine family, and therefore
considered quite a catch.

They could not have cared less
about the man himself.

Victor just regretted that his old problem
was rearing its ugly head again
where Igor had to see it.

"I'm not really looking for a bride right now,"
Victor demurred as Igor set down the tea things:
a silver tray with teapot and sugar dish and cream,
sandwiches of tomato or deviled egg or smoked salmon,
shortbread cookies and cheese koláčky and jam thumbprints.

The teacups were clever things that Victor had made himself
by silvering the outside of plain china cups so that they
would reflect the colorful patterns of the mismatched saucers
that Igor had collected one at a time from passing traders.

"But of course you are!" Ediit said. "You have no wife,
and every bachelor in society must be in need of a bride."

Igor took the tea tray back into the kitchen,
and Victor's worried glance followed him.
The food was skillfully made, but
to Victor it tasted like sawdust.

"I came here to get away from city society
and enjoy the quiet of the countryside," Victor said.

"You are a mazil," said Ediit. "That will do."
She helped herself to a salmon sandwich.

Mazil was a small enough title --
he was just a village overlord with
a castle and a stretch of forest
that no one else had cared to claim --
but it was still something unlikely
to be let out to a complete commoner.

There was the crux of it: she wanted
his land and his title and his money for
her daughter and consequent grandchildren.

That there could be no possible grandchildren
of such a union would doubtless distress
the ambitious tea merchant if she knew of it,
to say nothing of her hapless daughter --

all that Victor had to do to end this ordeal
was reveal the nature of his body and
the odious woman would pack herself right off.

He couldn't bring himself to do it, though;
he never had. He valued the truth of himself
more than the flesh which obscured it.

"The village keeps me busy enough,"
Victor said, taking a plum thumbprint.
"I've no place in my household for a wife."

"We could offer a considerable dowry,"
Ediit said. She sipped her tea.

"I am not a prostitute to be bribed," Victor said,
"and I hope your daughter is not one to be sold,"

She had the good taste to look offended,
but then spoiled it by retorting,
"It could be a marriage of convenience."

"Madam, there is nothing convenient
about your proposal," Victor said.

That was a pity, because she shipped
the most excellent congou and souchong.
Most of the locals made do with bohea
if they had tea at all, and occasionally
someone would bring pekoe.

He wasn't about to whore himself out, though.
Frustrated, Victor pushed away his empty teacup.

"Surely we can come to an arrangement,"
Ediit said. "There must be something you want."

"A moment's peace," Victor replied.

Igor set the tea tray down with a sharp clang
and began putting the used dishes onto it.

"Victor is mine," he said firmly. "We don't wish
to add anyone else to our relationship at this time.
If he wanted a woman, that would be different.
Besides, your ulterior argument is spurious:
your hypothetical grandchild wouldn't inherit.
We already have a son, so what we have
will be handed down to Adam in due course."

Igor's defense was as welcome as it was unexpected.
Victor never had much luck dissuading the vultures
on his own; usually he had to wait for them
to lose patience and seek some other quarry.
That could take a distressingly long time.

"Well, but it's not like you have a healthy child,"
Ediit said. "My Terézia could give you one."

That did it.

"Get out of my house," Victor said, his voice frigid.
"This discussion is over. Don't contact me again.
In fact, don't come back into my territory.
We'll find another tea dealer. I'm sure
your competitors will be thrilled."

With that, he hustled her to the door
and shut it firmly behind her.

"What a nuisance," Igor muttered.

"I am sorry about this," Victor said.
"You should not have to listen
to such vulgar nonsense."

"Whatever are we going to do for tea, though?"
Igor asked. "I don't fancy drinking bohea, and
the more fortunate families will want their congou."

Victor sighed. "I will have to go into the city.
All merchants have their rivals; someone else
is sure to have what we need. It's just
a matter of figuring out who, and
then making arrangements."

"That sounds like a good plan," Igor said.

"Thank you for coming to my rescue,"
Victor said, kissing him on the cheek.

"Any time," Igor said with a smile.

* * *

Notes:

Hypergamy is the process of "marrying up" to a higher social station. Sometimes mothers want this for their daughters, and can be downright predatory about it.

"A Man Is Always Eager" appears as an entertainment trope. However, the idea that males always want sex is one of many myths about rape which make life difficult for male survivors. Sexual harassment of men by women does happen and is just as unacceptable as men harassing women.

Tea service includes lovely things such as this tray and servingware or these teacups. It typically comes with snacks such as tea sandwiches, koláčky, plum butter, shortbread, and jam thumbprints.

Mazil is a historic Romanian title, still extant in this setting.

A kiss on the cheek conveys affection, support, and complicity regardless of sexual attraction.

Mine mine mine!

Date: 2014-11-23 11:57 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Oh, wait, /not/ "mine"-- but it's such a perfect fit for my mood today-- annoyed by someone who needed Igor's verbal smackdown skills for his misogynistic nattering.

A WONDERFUL, wonderful addition!

Can you imagine her breathing a word about this, though? "He turned my daughter down for a /male/ lover is NOT a compliment to her daughter.

Re: Mine mine mine!

Date: 2014-11-23 10:46 pm (UTC)
thnidu: plus sign (plus)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Oh YES!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-23 06:01 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Yay! Igor to the rescue!

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-11-23 10:58 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
/Protectiveness/ is neither a gender nor a sexual trait./

They both /desperately/ need the reassurance that /someone/ is protective of them, rather than exploitive.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-11-23 11:42 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
True. I grew up with a lot of negative experiences due to my disability, and it made me FAR less willing to put up with "kids will be kids" as an excuse when someone tried to bully my own children.

Both Victor and Igor can relate to Adam, and protect him, but as he grows up and /fits in/ with more of the village children than either adult did, I can also picture his parents talking with a bit of bewildered pride about how /really/ they've been dealing with the same kinds of childish rejection (he ate the last cookie, or he laughed when I played the grass whistle!) that the other kid generally have to deal with rather than /bullying/.

Not every kid is a bully waiting for a target, and while I don't think the /whole/ village likes Victor or Igor, the bigots and bullies will get far less of an audience, just because so many adults are modeling /better/ social skills.

Victor and Igor both prefer to deal fairly with people, while bullies don't. In simple terms, someone who's concerned about whether Victor and Igor are doing "inappropriate" things behind closed doors, would also realize that Victor pays good coin for good cloth, unless someone starts talking /about/ them. Simple politeness and common respect will /keep/ a working arrangement, without either man expecting the other party to "support" their behavior.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-11-24 04:59 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
It's respect for skills on both sides, even when there is a disagreement about another matter. Victor is a good physician, and generous with his help to the whole village. Trusting that even if you think he's on the fast track to a Christian Purgatory (at best), he'll STILL heal you, generates a lot more reciprocal respect than only being generous to those who agree with you.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-12-04 12:56 am (UTC)
silver_gull: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silver_gull
I grew up with a lot of negative experiences due to my disability, and it made me FAR less willing to put up with "kids will be kids" as an excuse when someone tried to bully my own children.

My response to that is that kids will be kids until they're adults, and an adult who learned in childhood that abuse is OK will not just wake up one morning and suddenly understand that it isn't.

"Boys will be boys" is especially problematic, because it implies that the speaker believes that male humans have a naturally reduced capacity for empathy... and whether that fits their experiences or not, if a person is acting on the assumption that that's true, shouldn't their response be to try harder to teach compassion, rather than to forgive any and all transgressions? But the people who say it seem to do so to dismiss any chance for a solution, neatly deflecting any responsibility for the problem perpetuating itself.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-23 08:47 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
What an insensitive .... the next word isn't polite, but neither was she.

Okay, that's twice you've done that... created a character that ... well, Igor and Victor didn't give her time to really piss me off. :feral grin:

; '

Date: 2014-11-23 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pigshitpoet.livejournal.com
wow

great piece

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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