Deal Me In Lite, Week 11: "Titbottom's Spectacles" by George William Curtis
This week the three of hearts sends me back to the pages of The Classic Humor Megapack.
To be honest, this story made my list purely because of the title. I mean, let's face it -- doesn't that title make you want to read this story? It sounds like a scream from the title alone.
Unfortunately this is another of the stories in this anthology that makes me wonder why exactly anyone would think it belongs in a humor anthology. It just ain't funny. It was an interesting story, with an interesting premise. But not funny.
This brief story is actually a chapter from a larger work, Prue and I, but it stands alone reasonably well. Titbottom is a colleague of the narrator's, an older man who frequently dines and spends a pleasant evening with the narrator and his wife Prue. One evening he tells them the story of a pair of miraculous spectacles he inherited from his grandfather. These spectacles allow the wearer to see anyone as they truly are, metaphorically. For example, when Titbottom puts them on to look at his grandfather, who is a much-loved and highly respected elder in the community, he does not see his grandfather. Instead, he sees a tall, majestic palm tree towering over a beautiful, rich landscape, giving life and shelter to everything around it. As you might imagine, these spectacles also can show the negative side of people as well, and Titbottom's life has been somewhat complicated by his occasional use of the spectacles and his knowledge of what is behind the masks people wear sometimes. It's a classic theme of peering behind the veil, and as such, it's a relatively interesting story. I feel that there are probably other authors (and better-known authors) who have treated this theme with greater success -- however, I don't know of any off the top of my head. Anyone care to leave some info in the comments?