To the manor born

Jack Shackaway here.


Not long ago I posted an account of a recent encounter with fine wine and free food. But the starving writer’s life is no incessant five-star carouse with mince tarts and Shiraz on all sides. Far from it.

Here it is some time in the morning, I haven’t even had breakfast, and Mad the Maid has just puked all over my balcony. She went out there to clean it for the first time since this building was erected. But she has puked all over it instead and now she’s going home, she says, she doesn’t feel very good. And it’s me who’s supposed to clean the dead pigeon out of the air-conditioner, this item being what made her puke in the first place?dead pigeon

Why am I paying a maid, I ask her, but she only says, “Mai sabai,” which, loosely translated, means she doesn’t feel very good and I can go …k myself.

People to the manor born know how to handle these situations, but I was born to a bungalow in Peoria, the liberal-democratic son of suburban pioneers, and I don’t know what to tell my servant other than go on home, goddammit, and I’ll clean the air-conditioner myself.

Wait a minute—what about the puke? Damn. She’s gone already. I think I’ll just move to another apartment. Maybe I’ll move to another country while I’m at it.

But what the hell. We’re getting into the cool season; I can just turn off the air-conditioner and use the fans. And there’s no real reason ever to go out on the balcony anyway, the way the neighborhood is changing, who wants to look?

Right now I’m hungry, so I’m going to shelve these issues. I need to go out and find a plate of fried rice.


Whatever. Things could be worse. air conditioner pigeon kid

Click on the images for their sources. 

Nearly forgot. My book:



Dogs Cover dtp 31may - front

7 thoughts on “To the manor born”

  1. I see two viable courses of action:

    1. Get some of those long chopsticks that cooks use, pick up the non-liquid bits of the corpse, and toss them over the edge with a bit of outward trajectory so they land on neighboring properties. Then get a hose and thoroughly wash everything out there down.

    2. As you’ve already said, you could move. But before you do, tell the maid you’re going because of the pigeon, and then ask her to begin the move by cleaning all the dust off of everything in the office, including — nay, especially — the books. She may well decide that dealing with the pigeon is preferable.

  2. Evidently a man with long experience of domestic staff. Not to mention cadaver-haunted air-conditioners. Thank you.

  3. Having just tried unsuccessfully to share a New Yorker cartoon on Facebook, I applaud your ability to find not just one but three perfect illustrations for your tale, Shackaway. Or do you in fact CREATE the artwork? I bet Mark Schreiber in Tokyo would pay you good money for more work like the puking maid painting.

    • Certainly not, Tony. I would hope that we continue to stay in touch., and I continue to value our friendship.

Comments are closed.