The View from Sherlock Peoria (239)
December 31, 2006
Applying to the ASH
The new year is here, and once again the time of new things is upon us. New calendars, new resolve, and new plans for our old lives. Amid all this, an opportunity has appeared for the males of the Sherlockian world that just cannot be passed up. This is the year we get to ask the ladies to let us join them at the party.
While the Baker Street Irregulars of New York have been having a dinner every January for decades upon decades upon decades, another group, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes sprang up alongside them and became known for something else. They weren’t the ladies auxiliary. They weren’t just another scion society, subservient to the elder group. They were the young women who marched on the old men who wouldn’t let them come to the biggest annual event in Sherlockian America, if not the world. They were the rebels flying their girlish X-wings against the Sherlockian Death Star, not to destroy it as the Emperor and his storm troopers seemed to think . . . they just wanted to come aboard, turn off the tractor beams, turn on the disco ball, and party.
Okay, too much Star Wars metaphor (and anachronisms) for a Holmes column, but these are very different times. Case in point: This year, after almost forty years, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes are going to start allowing men to join their storied group.
Should his application be accepted, a male member of their group will simply be known as an “ASH” (in all caps). As the word “ash” has plenty of significance to Sherlockians in any case, that should do nicely. (Apparently they thought “Adventurers of Sherlock Holmes” would sound too much like a separate – and much more macho -- group.) And after all these years, that designation has almost as much weight as “BSI.” Some might argue that point, but after all the schism years, when only men were BSI and only women were ASH, the titles developed a certain balance, a certain equality in many minds. Does that continue today? To some of us.
So now we are given the chance to stand up and say, “Yes, I’d like to be an ASH.” Given that the Baker Street Irregulars still hold that asking to belong to the club on your own is a big no-no, this seems like an excellent opportunity to every Sherlockian with an XY chromosome (and is still equally excellent for those with XY). I know I’m going to send a letter off to the Principal Unprincipled Adventuress this week.
Doesn’t mean I’m going to get in, of course, but just to have one’s name in the hopper at this historic moment will be a great feeling. And a good way to start 2007, I think. How many other New Year’s will we get a great chance like this?
Your humble correspondent,
P.S. Here's a link to the ASH site.