Divine Intervention in
The Ralph Mailroom

Subject: RALPH

Dear Ms Lark,

I just received volume 27, late summer 2006, edition of RALPH. If I am reading the address label correctly my subscription goes to Oct, 2010.

I wonder if it is possible for you to reveal to me to whom it is I am indebted for receiving your publication. I would be much appreciative. I would like to know whom to thank for this very generous gift.

Susan Wallis

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Dear Ms. Wallis:

Thank you for your puzzled letter.

There are five possible ways that this may have come about:

  1. If you sent us a check, you would have gotten a subscription to the printed version of RALPH, the Folio.
  2. If someone else sent a check for you, you would have gotten a subscription to the Folio.
  3. If there were an error in our mail room, you may have gotten a subscription to the Folio.
  4. If you were an Important Person, especially an Important Kindly Person, you might have gotten a free subscription to the Folio.
  5. If there was Divine Intervention, you might, as a result, depending on the agent or agents involved, have gotten a subscription to the Folio.

We assume you would know if you subscribed yourself. If someone subscribed on your behalf, we would have informed you and presumably the donor would have informed you too.

An error in the mailroom? Ah, and alas --- these are very frequent. Our subscription lady is not only dilatory, she has been known to give out free subscriptions to friends, lovers, relations, or whomsoever in the world she thinks might learn from the magazine, people she sees as morally, emotionally, or mystically challenged.

You may have gotten a free subscription as an Important Person: We do occasionally send short-term subscriptions to such, hoping that they will read us make us an Important Person too.

In regards to Divine Intervention: We have been looking into that one, and should inform you that as a result of our research, we have found that direct action by the gods on your (or anyone else's) behalf seems to be exceedingly rare. Bolts from The Blue --- as my Mum would say --- are as scarce as hen's teeth.

--- Yours,
Lolita Lark

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Dear Lolita:

Yes, I would know if I had sent in a check to subscribe. If you consider me an important or interesting person HOW did you get my mailing address?

I hope I will not be offending any individual who may have anonymously sent in an odd-number of years subscription but since it seems impossible to learn who this individual is kindly remove me from your mailing list (I hope you have not already sold my name and address to anyone else) and kindly discontinue sending me your publication.

Thank you for attention to this matter.

--- Sincerely, Susan Wallis

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Dear Ms Wallis:

No sooner said than done, although we must demur: we have yet to find anyone silly enough to want to buy our subscription list, made up, as it is, of misfits, misanthropes, and would-be mystics.

--- Yours in Truth,
Lolita Lark

Subject: goodness gracious!



I just read the review of my book, The Nature-friendly Garden.

I wrote this book to help folks to understand our natural world. If they could grasp what is going on "out there," they could stop trying to garden in a manner that can't possibly work and which therefore brings them much unhappiness. In addition to becoming happier gardeners, people would also become better environmental caregivers.

I am taken aback by your sarcasm. This book comes from my heart. I would hope that you did not really want to be so mean-spirited. It appears that your own unsuccessful gardening efforts have made you bitter, in which case your review rather makes a case for everything the book points out! Perhaps you should reread it.

I wish you well.

--- Marlene A. Condon

Go to the review that inspired this letter

P. S. I thought you might like to know that "whom" in the quote from your email to Susan Wallis [above] should be "who:"

    she has been known to give out free subscriptions to friends, lovers, relations, or whomsoever in the world she thinks might learn from the magazine

"Whomsoever" is the subject of the verb "might learn" which is why it should be "whosoever." The entire clause is the object of the preposition "to," not just "whosoever."

This is a common mistake, even among people who are very well educated. Unfortunately, grammar is not a required course in college.

For those who are not in the know, there is a fail-proof way to determine which is correct: substitute "him" or "he" in the section of the sentence that contains "who" or "whom" and rearrange that section to be a declarative sentence. In this case, you would know to write "she thinks he might learn from the magazine;" you would never think to write "him" in this sentence.

I hope this helps in your future writing.

--- Thanks so much

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Dear Marlene:

As a lover of Fowler, I am truly (as Pogo would say) replete with rue that I didn't know (and still don't, and I am a geezer) the correct use of "whom" and "who." I'll try to remember your interdict.

It is nice to have someone be nice about our criticism. We have, in the past, received some very bellicose letters about our reviews. See,

--- Lolita Lark
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