The Dissecting Room . . . November 1990
It Wasn't Moran . . .
"Nay, he was bringing home the goose as a peace-offering to his wife. Remember the card upon the bird's leg?"
There was the crime, committed ever so boldly in black and white. Someone had been cheating at cards, and last issue (question #5) I called upon readers of this fine publication to find the culprit. The turnout was marvelous -- Editor Burr received as many letters as he did when this columnist was inducted into and very nearly deducted out of the Baker Street Irregulars. Both Bob and I were delighted to see so many of our Sherlockian comrades taking up the gauntlet. People with brains read Plugs & Dottles (Twisted brains, perhaps, but brains, nonetheless).
Could our Mensa-level readership turn their minds to detective work with the success of a Sherlock Holmes? In asking them to identify the card cheat on page 247 of the Doubleday Complete, I thought I'd given them a pretty fair test of amateur detective abilities. After all, we weren't talking major murder investigation here, just a simple cheater, the kind of criminal you run into every day. The results were . . . ummm . . . well, let me just say that if Scotland Yard needs applicants, I've got a list for them.
Henry Baker seemed to be the most popular suspect among our team of sleuths. This group of investigators considered hiding a card on the leg of a Christmas goose to be a viable cheating technique. Personally, I would find any man who sits down to a game of whist with a dead goose very suspicious to begin with, but it wouldn't be cheating that I'd suspect him of. And if he were to hide cards upon the bird, I think he would have to go for underneath the wings or amidst the feathers. Overall, the Baker theory seems rather implausible.
Even more implausible, however, was a theory proposed by a second group of investigators: the goose was the card cheat. While that would explain his premature demise, I think that most of us, as sensible folk living in the real world, know that geese do not play cards. Fingers are a big plus when it comes to dealing, you see.
Only one of our Dissecting Room detective team was able to make that supreme leap of logic and spot the true cardsharp. Rosemarv Michaud (Randolph, MA), well up on her male chauvinist British slang, equated "bird" with "woman," and identified Mrs. Henry Baker as the cheater. The goose was obviously a peace-offering to restore domestic bliss after Henry called her a cheat to begin with. As any married person knows, sometimes you apologize even when you're right.
Rosemary's brilliant deduction made her the winner of the first Dissecting Room Bowl, for which she was awarded an inscribed copy of my Sherlock and the Ladies. Congratulations to Rosemary and everyone who entered (except Hugh Harrington who apparently used invisible ink) for a job well done. Next year's quiz will be harder.
The other answers, which nearly everyone got, were:
1. She loves him (refuses to let him go out in such a state).
2. He neighs (says "Nay").
3. My eight were goose, brain, brim, rib, lime, cream, hair (hare), and the ever-popular Shaw answer: "grizzle" (as in grizzly bear). Other answers included thyme (time), beans (been), wing (sho-wing), deer (dear), tallow, and more.
4. ". . . all this seems to be rather a waste (waist) of energy."
6. A "gas-jet." An honorable mention must go to Ed Connor for coming up with a better answer than mine. He remembered that Tom Cruise's partner in "Top Gun" was actually nicknamed "Goose."
7. No one correct answer to this one. Like many people, I came up with four-of-a-kind. Two found five-of-a-kind. And Michael McClure managed a royal flush!
(Printed in Plugs & Dottles, November 1990 )