2013-06-06bOnce I told my young friend (a pupil at a middle school) an English joke about a gentleman who had accused his tablemate of stealing his silk handkerchief. After the handkerchief had been found the gentleman started apologizing for the false accusation, to which the wrongly accused person answered: “You needn’t apologize. You thought I was a thief and I thought you were a gentleman, however, both of us were wrong.”

I thought that the pupil would start probing into the concept of gentlemanliness and I was already prepared to dwell on the stratum of the British society represented by well-mannered and considerate people with high standards of proper behavior who (by good luck) might also be of noble birth and superior social position. But my friend asked a very down-to-earth question: “Why should people steal each other’s handkerchiefs?”

I must admit that the question was kind of unexpected. I mumbled something about the high cost of silk in the Victorian times, of which I was not quite sure, though. Then I thought that the era of handkerchiefs might have begun even earlier: a handkerchief was an important element of Shakespeare’s Othello. All that made me undertake a short study into the topic of handkerchiefs.  I came to the conclusion that the handkerchief in the joke was definitely a decorative accessory to a suit symbolic of the social class of the user and known as a pocket square.

I’m not sure to what extent all that study has affected me, but every morning now, when I take a clean handkerchief out of the drawer before going to work, I do it with special pleasure. And if throughout the day I manage to control myself even in most nerve-racking situations and remain calm when otherwise I would lose my temper, isn’t that also due to the ironed and carefully folded piece of white-and-blue linen  in my pocket? Who knows?


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One Response to “HANDKERCHIEF”

  1. rocca Says:

    what a beautiful story! 🙂

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