Deduction: Mistress Mary Quite Solitary

Deduction: Mistress Mary Quite SolitaryDeduction: Mistress Mary Quite Solitary

Ah, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary…Mary. Mary, the love of John Watson. Oh, Mary!

Mary is a central character in The Sign of the Four, but after that we don’t hear of her much, in fact, she actually dies, and no one really says anything about it. She dies in between the time Sherlock supposedly dies and when he shows back up.

For a while though, John and Mary are happy, or something like it. The problem is that John always seems to be hanging out with Sherlock and not his wife. In fact, his wife is only too happy to let him go off for days at a time with Sherlock without even batting an eye. Perhaps it was that women were freer with their husbands back in the day. Perhaps she didn’t care where he went or who he was with. Who knows. She’s dead, so we’ll never know.

I find this odd. John has a life outside of Sherlock. For a while he goes back to practice as a doctor. He gets married. He has a house with Mary, but every so often Sherlock shows back up and off John goes, seemingly without much fanfare from Mary.

Look, I don’t know about you guys, but usually when a husband goes off with buddies there are some questions involved. Where are you going? When will you be back? Who are you going with? Are you going to a strip club? Is there going to be crystal meth involved? You know, that sort of thing. You could look at it one of two ways. You could look at it as a woman wanting to control where her husband goes, which some women do, but you could also look at it as a wife being concerned for her husband. You’re married to this guy, so you’re supposed to care about him. It would be a good idea to know his general location, just in case he turns up missing that way you can tell police, “Well, he went to the store to buy milk and he never came back.”

It just seems to me that Mary isn’t a very inquisitive person. She just seems to be happy to be ignorant in where her husband goes. Where does he go?

You know what, scratch all of this–Mary was a plot device. She’s not a very rounded character. She only exists to further John’s character, but then he seemingly forgets about her. Married life doesn’t much change the way John acts. He still goes off with Sherlock. Most likely, Arthur decided that living the married life hampered John from going places with Sherlock, so he killed Mary off, well, not really, he didn’t even take the text to write a story about how Mary tragically passed away. It’s not even mentioned. I had read she died before my whole dive into Sherlock Holmes, but I never read specifically where she died.

Look at it this way, wouldn’t it be odd if both John and Sherlock had lived the remainder of their days as bachelors? John’s story progressed personally, while Sherlock’s did not. John’s life moved forward as Sherlock remained the same. John gets married and suffers the tragedy of his wife dying, which honestly doesn’t seem to affect him very much. John’s marriage isn’t a big deal to the overall story line, so Mary is quite marginalized.

In the end, she’s not important, so her opinions don’t matter and her death doesn’t matter. It’s a sad state of affairs. You would think that Arthur could have given John Watson’s wife a better send off when he decided to kill her off, but I guess not. It’s like those two Torkelson kids who just disappeared when the family moved to a different state. Yes, I remember that show.

Poor Mary, poor, poor, Mary. She made the mistake of falling in love with a man who was in love with the idea of solving mysteries and following Sherlock Holmes around and then when she died, nobody cared.

Deduction: Mind Your Own Darn Business

Deduction: Mind Your Own Darn BusinessDeduction: Mind Your Own Darn Business

Quidnunc is a real word and it really does mean a person who sticks their nose where it doesn’t belong. Let’s use it in a sentence.

Sherlock Holmes is a quidnunc.

There I said it and it’s the truth. Sherlock goes around sticking his nose in everybody’s business. Now, you may argue with me. You might say something like, “…but Sherlock is a private detective. People hire him to stick his nose in other people’s business.” While this is true, it doesn’t make the fact that he’s interfering any less annoying. He also doesn’t just stick to sticking his nose in business he’s being paid to stick his nose into. He’s sticks his nose in everybody’s business. He has an entire collection of information about random people. He knows everything John is thinking and what his life is like. Sherlock sticks his nose in everyone’s business.

I live in the United States and we supposedly have the right to privacy. We have the right to unwarranted search or seizure, it’s one of the amendments, the fourth one to be exact. That means you  or a police officer could not just show up at my house and look through all my stuff. It’s illegal. Sherlock looks through everyone’s stuff.

Legally, you can hire a private detective. If you think your husband is cheating on you, you can call up a private investigator and say, “Look, follow my husband around, see if he kisses any women that aren’t me.” That’s all cool. It’s not exactly nice to have someone followed, but it’s not exactly illegal. Here’s where things run into a gray area. If said private investigator starts tapping phone lines and taking pictures through blinds then things get a little more illegal, but it’s still kind of on the boundary of legal/illegal because they didn’t necessarily break into anything to get this information, although, they probably trespassed, which is also illegal, but trespassing isn’t exactly a high priority crime. It really depends on if property owners want to press charges.

Your life is theoretically supposed to be yours. Your phone conversations and emails are supposed to be private, but we know that’s not the case. We have the NSA to thank for that, and, no, I don’t care if they read this. They know what they’re doing. Despite that fact, we still have a certain expectation of privacy. We get annoyed when people start butting into our business.

Let me tell you a story. One time when I was a teenager the doctor diagnosed me with a urinary tract infection and said something to the effect of, “It looks live you’ve had this for a while.” Then she prescribed me some antibiotics and I went on my way. The next day, the phone rings(this was before we all had cell phones) and it’s my aunt. She asks me, “Oh are you ok? I heard you had a UTI?” Everybody knew. My entire family knew. Why? Because my mom told one person, or two, or four, I don’t know, and then all of those people told two friends. It’s one of the reasons I don’t tell a lot of things to my family, because it just spreads like wildfire and I like my privacy.

That’s Sherlock. He gets into everyone’s business.

Let’s talk about his file. Sherlock has this file full of cards on basically everyone. He looks into everybody. If they’re mentioned in the newspaper, Sherlock makes a little file on them and gets as much information on them as possible. This is why he recognizes names so quickly when John mentions a certain name. Should you have a big file full of information all on other people? Are you a telemarketer? It would make sense if you were, but if you weren’t, why do you have this giant file full of information on people? It would seem awfully weird to have a big file of information like that if you were just a normal guy.

But Sherlock isn’t a normal guy, right? Well, that is true, Sherlock is definitely not normal. He’s a consulting detective, which isn’t a real thing. He made it up. He forced his way into working with Scotland Yard just because he wanted to. They did not recruit him. He pestered them into letting him work with them. As far as busybodies go, Sherlock is pretty good at getting the information he wants.

While it is true that Sherlock is hired to stick his nose in people’s business, he shouldn’t always be doing so. It’s a question of ethics and just plain old common sense. There were several situations as in The Tale of the Missing Three Quarter, where Sherlock should not have been involved at all. What basically ended up happening is that Sherlock ended up butting into a very private and emotionally  difficult time for a man and his family. Sherlock should not have been there. He shouldn’t have been poking around.

In yet another story The Yellow Face, Sherlock also should not have been involved. There was no violence. There was no cause to suspect danger. There wasn’t a huge mystery. For the most part, the whole thing was a disagreement between a man and his wife. Why in the heck was Sherlock there? Sherlock never practices discretion in choosing his cases. He never says, “You know what, I know you’re trying to hire me to do this, but I don’t think I should get involved.” He never steps back from the situation, even when a normal person would have.

Sherlock not only spies on people himself, while dressing up I might add, he has spies he hires. He hires street children. He hires nefarious people wandering around. Sherlock has an army of spies in London. He not only pokes his nose in people’s business himself, he masses an entire spying army to do the task more efficiently.

Sherlock goes much too far to get information. At one point he pretended to be a different man and got engaged. Do you have any idea how terrible that would be? Seriously. If I was that woman, Agatha or was it Agnes…I would be incredibly ticked off. Here I was thinking I was getting married, but it turns out the guy I thought I was getting married to doesn’t even exist and now I’m alone again. He was only getting close to me to get information. It would have been emotionally scarring, but does Sherlock care?

Here’s the thing, we know Sherlock isn’t an unfeeling…um…jerk, I would have liked to use another word. We know he has compassion on people, specifically women, so why does he see fit to stick his nose in their business? Why does he do this?

Part of me wants to say that I don’t know why Sherlock does this, but part of me wants to say it’s because Sherlock doesn’t have his own life. Look, Sherlock may look as if he has his own life, but honestly, he doesn’t. He spends all of his time poking his nose in other people’s business. What part of his life is his own? Rarely does Sherlock actually mention something personal. He mentions that he has a brother, he mentions that he had a friend in college, and he mentions that his grandmother was Vernet’s sister, which I already disproved. He doesn’t mention anything else personal.

He has habits that keep his mind off of things. He smokes tobacco, he does heroin, and we even know he tried some opium. There is no telling what he concocts in the chemistry set he’s always working with. I joke around saying he’s making meth, which didn’t really exist at the time of Sherlock Holmes, but perhaps he’s making something like it.

He doesn’t have a girlfriend. He doesn’t have a wife. He never speaks of his parents. John is pretty much his sole window out into the world. It’s true he interacts with others, but it’s usually as a detective or as someone he’s pretending to be, it’s hardly ever himself. John is the only person, and perhaps Mycroft, that Sherlock shows even a bit of his true self with. Sherlock constantly is thinking about someone else besides himself, because, let’s face it, he doesn’t have a life.

Occasionally, we see Sherlock break out his own self a bit. He plays the violin and he talks about music, but that’s rare. I’m not a psychologist and I honestly don’t know what makes Sherlock create this entire world to avoid being in his own world. He avoids being himself. I know you look at Sherlock and think that he is the man who is smart and kind of jerk and figures everything out, but why does he put that exterior off? Somewhere underneath all of that is the real Sherlock who for some reason feels the need to stick his nose in everyone’s business to fill some need of his own.

So, yes, Sherlock does stick his nose in everyone’s business and, no, it’s not right, but he does it for a reason, but we don’t know that reason.

Deduction: We’re not a couple!

Deduction: We're not a couple! Deduction: We’re not a couple!

Argue all you want John, but you’ve got to admit, you do seem just a bit too close to Sherlock.

Bros before hos(hoes?), right?

I’ve never had a roommate, so I can honestly not say what proper roommate behavior is, but supposedly, John and Sherlock are just roommates, but everyone wants them to be gay, everyone. It’s actually a big joke in the Sherlock television series made by the BBC. Everyone thinks they’re gay. When John gets engaged people are surprised. They’re all like, “Dude, are you sure about this?”

Here’s the thing, John and Sherlock are not gay. I read all the Sherlock stories and they’re just not. John gets married. He looks at women. Sherlock even looks at women, even though he never acts on it, that we know of. Sherlock is a bit of a mystery man. He’s prone to dressing up and pretending to be other people, so it may very well be that Sherlock has himself a secret woman somewhere; she’s just not in the story because Sherlock hid her so well.

…but, when we read these stories today, it kind of seems that John and Sherlock could possibly be gay.

How men interact with one another has changed over the years. Men used to be a little more touchy-feely with each other than they are today. Even the way men act towards one another in Europe vs North America is different. Men in Europe are more touchy-feely than North American men. For example, that cheek kiss thing people do when they meet each other. It’s not only the women that do it. So we have not only time differences in interactions between men, but also continental differences.

To start off with John and Sherlock are roommates. There’s nothing weird about that. I always thought that Bert and Ernie were roommates. They had separate beds after all, if they’re gay they need to take the plunge and get one bed. Back to Sherlock, men are roommates–they might even share the same room, but have different beds. There is nothing at all weird about John and Sherlock sharing the Baker Street apartment together. So this is not what makes people think they’re gay.

More likely, what makes people think John and Sherlock are gay is how they interact with one another. They sit in their respective chairs in the living room at Baker Street and talk about stuff. They decorate together. Some of Sherlock’s stuff is in the room and some of John’s stuff is in the room. They act like an old married couple. They go on holidays together. They go to restaurants together. They share rooms when they go places.

Again, none of their going places together makes them gay. Two friends can go places together no matter what sex they may happen to be. Sherlock and John truly do sound like a married couple. Sherlock can tell what John is thinking. John knows all of Sherlock’s habits. John even knows what pipe Sherlock likes to smoke when he’s angry. They’re close like any two friends should be, but they’re so close that they probably pick stuff out of each other’s teeth. It’s an odd relationship to say the least.

Women tend to be a little closer in their friendships than men. If you have a best girlfriend, you might very well know each other’s habits and even share the same bed when traveling. I know there are people who think that’s weird, but honestly, it’s not that weird.

We usually don’t expect men to be as close as Sherlock and John seem to be. Sure, guys are roommates, but how often do they each have their own chairs in the living room and sit down to read the newspaper? Can you imagine walking into a fraternity house and seeing all the guys there sitting in their own armchairs drinking tea and reading magazines in each other’s company? No. I mean, I see them partying in each other’s company, but I don’t see them acting like John and Sherlock.

It’s not a complicated thing, but it’s there. John and Sherlock do seem just a little too close, but in the end, they’re not gay, unless they just have all of us fooled.

Just for fun, Google “Johnlock” and look at all the fanart.

Deduction: The Curious Case of Mrs. Hudson’s Unexpected Pregnancy

Deduction: The Curious Case of Mrs. Hudson's Unexpected PregnancyDeduction: The Curious Case of Mrs. Hudson’s Unexpected Pregnancy

The Sherlock Holmes stories were roughly released around 120 years ago; they were released serially and not all in the same years, so that’s why I say roughly. People talked differently back then. Also consider that Sherlock is British and not all of us are British. Why do I point that out? Well, Mrs. Hudson gets knocked up in the Sherlock stories. I know, I wasn’t expecting it either. I mean, who’s the daddy? Is it John? Is it Sherlock? Probably not Sherlock. Lestrade? Moriarty? Mycroft? Haha! Mycroft, he wouldn’t know what to do with a woman. Moriarty knocking Mrs. Hudson up would be a neat twist to the story. I kind of figured Mrs. Hudson was too old to have babies, but maybe she’s only like forty.

What? What do you mean that’s not what went on?

Oh, ok, well, apparently in the Sherlock stories getting knocked up means that someone woke you up by knocking on your door. See that’s totally not what I was thinking when the story says Mrs. Hudson was knocked up.

That’s ok. We say things differently in different countries. I hear that in England they actually say “up the duff” instead of “knocked up.” Honestly, neither of them are a good description for an unexpected pregnancy.

Let’s move on. This has been a great example of how language usage is different between countries that speak the same language, but also of how language evolves. Words that mean one thing today, may not have meant the same thing 120 years ago, such as the word “nice.”

The word I really want to go after is “ejaculate.”

Why? Well, John, who is our narrator of the Sherlock stories uses this word quite a bit. When I read this word, I don’t think of the same thing that John meant. I think of something entirely different, that often has absolutely nothing to do with the story.

It would be a good idea to explain what the word meant to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Arthur was a doctor and would have been familiar with the usage of the word that we’re thinking of, but that’s not how he was using it. He was using it in the old-fashioned Latin sense.

The good old-fashioned Latin definition of this word is, “to utter abruptly.”

Ejaculate is from the Latin Ejaculari, which means “to shoot out.” The “e” part of that means “away,” or, “out.” Like the word “eject.” The jaculari part of the word means “the hurl a javelin.” Somewhere along the lines someone decided to put an “e” in front of “jaculari” to create the verb “ejaculari.” Then somewhere along the line after that, it came to be a word that would define sudden outbursts, you know, like Freudian slips. I get why the word means what it means in the medical sense.

The problem with all of this is that we use the word ejaculate almost purely to mean expelling a substance rapidly from the body, mainly semen. None of us go around saying the word “ejaculate” to mean an outburst.

For example, if you were recounting a story to your friends you would say something like, “Well, then Tiffany blurted out that Andrea was fat and then that’s when the fight started.” You would not say, “Well, then Tiffany ejaculated that Andrea was fat and that’s when the fight started.” It just sounds dirty. If you did say that, you would be using the word correctly, but everyone is going to look at you and think you’re a pervert. It’s not exactly PC to use the word how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used the word, at the very least, it’s not to be used in that manner in polite conversation, but for the life of me, I don’t know how you would use the word “ejaculate” in polite conversation at all. This is not a polite conversation.

Here’s a tip from me to you–if you cannot imagine saying a word or a phrase to the Queen of England then it’s probably not polite conversation.

So how grievous is Arthur’s usage of the word ejaculate? I have a tally of how many times each form of the word appears in the Sherlock stories.

  • Ejaculation-7
  • Ejaculated-14
  • Ejaculations-1
  • Ejaculating-1

That’s a total of 23 usages of some form of the word “ejaculate.” Let’s compare that to me. This post is the most times I’ve used the word “ejaculate” in my writing. I actually don’t recall writing the word “ejaculate” in relation to anything, except the Sherlock Holmes stories. I just haven’t had the need or occasion to use the word very often.

So, yes, words change meanings over the years. We have to remember that people talked a heck of a lot differently 120 years ago. It’s the whole reason reading Shakespeare seems so odd. They talked all kinds of screwed up when Shakespeare was around. In fact, English has evolved so much we have three major versions of it old English, Middle English, and our modern English. The word we’re talking about isn’t even English, it’s Latin. So somewhere in history the true English word that means the same thing as “ejaculate” has fallen out of favor. I tried Googling the Old English word for ejaculate for you guys by the way, but I came up empty. So if one of you out there know it please comment.

So, no, John isn’t talking about having lots of orgasms, but if you wanted to read it that way, go ahead, it injects some humor into the whole series.


Deduction: Men are kind of stupid

Deduction: Men are kind of StupidDeduction: Men are kind of Stupid

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I had a commenter leave me this very long and winded comment about  feminism, women, domestic violence, and the fact that men are also stereotyped against. I thought about it some more and the Sherlock stories definitely have a male stereotype that is sexist and repeated over and over and over again. The men of the Sherlock Holmes stories, besides Sherlock, are kind of stupid. There’s no getting around it. They’re idiots.

There are male stereotypes, even in our modern-day world, that depict men as idiots. We say that men are terrible with directions. We say that men can’t take care of the house or the baby. We say that men would screw up everything a woman did. We say that men are clueless when it comes to their interaction with the opposite sex. We put down men more than we think we put men down. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve read where the male character of a story is all like, “What’s this hot flat thing? It burned my shirt. What do you mean I put the baby’s diaper on backwards? Look, I’m not going to ask for directions. This isn’t the ghetto; it’s just a scenic detour. Those aren’t prostitutes either.”

Yeah, men can be stupid, but to be fair women can be stupid as well. Everybody is stupid at one point or another. We get into this argument as to whether men are really clueless when it comes to certain things or they know they’re expected to be clueless when it comes to certain things so they just don’t try. How much of your husband being inept at changing the baby’s diaper is really his lack of intelligence? Could it just be that he’s always heard men are bad at that sort of thing and acts on that societal expectation?

The Sherlock Holmes stories are just filled with idiotic men. I mean filled. Sherlock, seems to be the exception, but even he sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong. He doesn’t get that he shouldn’t be in some situations. He doesn’t take social clues. John Watson is a doctor, but sometimes I wonder how the man is alive. He always seems so surprised when Sherlock figures something out. Doctors are detectives. If you’re a doctor, you have to rely on your education and knowledge to figure out what is wrong with somebody. It’s not just luck. Doctors really are detectives. I often think that the show House is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes in a way, maybe I’ll explore that idea one day.

In many of the cases Sherlock comes across there is only a problem because some man was an idiot. There are several cases of men carrying around items they should not be carrying around and those items are lost or stolen and then all chaos ensues. The Adventure of the Second Stain, The Naval Treaty, and The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. What is so hard to understand about leaving something in one place? If something is that important, you don’t carry it around with you from place to place. You lock it away in a vault somewhere, with a guard. Why did these men think this was a good idea? Oh, clearly, this object of great value to my client and/or country is so valuable that surely it would be safer with me than in a vault somewhere. That’s a man being stupid and also arrogant. He’s arrogant to such an extent that he’s become stupid.

We have these others stories of idiot criminals. Hide the pearl in a bust of Napoleon. Shove a jewel down a goose. How is that a good idea? A goose moves around. A goose could get run over. A statue made for sale, might get sold, and then you would have to go looking for it. These were both men by the way. Again, this sort of goes back to the idea that if something is important, put it in a safe place.

Even the mastermind male criminals who are quite smart seem kind of dumb. Moriarty gets close enough to a waterfall for Sherlock to push him over. Milverton apparently doesn’t go armed to his negotiations and also apparently doesn’t suspect a woman of trying to kill him.

We could go on. We could talk about the men who are stupid enough to think they won’t get caught. There’s the student who cheats on his test, for example.

Another one I really like are the men in the Sherlock stories that are so stupid they believe that someone will pay them to copy out of the encyclopedia. This happened, or rather very similar circumstances, happened in two Sherlock stories. In The Red-Headed League, a man believes other red-headed men are paying him lots of money every year to copy out of an encyclopedia. In The Stock Broker’s Clerk, another man believes that some guy is paying him lots of money to copy out addresses. In what world does a person get paid to copy out of the encyclopedia? The monks who copied the Bible didn’t even get paid to copy it. They did it for free because it was their duty. People don’t pay you, or anybody, to copy out of the encyclopedia, no matter how good the job offer sounds.

Moving on, it’s not only the bad guys who are idiots in the Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve already spoken of John and how I don’t think he’s exactly as smart as he should be, but let’s talk of other people. Let’s talk about Stanley Hopkins. Stanley is smart, but not smart enough. He misses things that Sherlock finds and Sherlock calls him an idiot. Well, he doesn’t come out and say that Stanley is an idiot, but it’s implied in his insults. Sherlock constantly looks down on Lestrade and he’s a smart guy too.

Basically, the idea is that every single man in the Sherlock stories, besides Sherlock, is an idiot. All these men more than prove this. They do quite a few stupid things.

Now, conversely, the women of the Sherlock stories are guilty of being too gullible, but none of them are straight-up depicted as unintelligent, not a one. All of the women of Sherlock Holmes are smart. They know what they’re doing. They may seem clueless as to what’s going on, but they really know what’s going on.

Why is this important? Well, it’s important because the women of the Sherlock Holmes stories, although guilty of being gullible, are never depicted as being stupid. The men of the Sherlock Holmes stories on the other hand, are kind of idiots. In fact, without the idea of male stupidity, the Sherlock Holmes stories would be rather sparse. Remember, the only villain who ever truly outsmarted Sherlock was Irene Adler.

There wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes consulting detective without the stupidity of men.

What does all of this mean? All of this means that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created an entire literary world based on the idea that men are dumb and they’re going to screw up and the world needs a man like Sherlock Holmes who happens to be smarter than all these other men to straighten out all this stupidity, but you know, the women, they’re smart and pretty.

So, do shut up Anderson, you’re lowering the IQ of the entire street.