Episode Forty Nine
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Monstrous Agonies E49S02 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Forty Nine.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-next-”, piano music, and a voice saying “-fresh catch for dinner-”before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-pair of bolt cutters and a can-do attitude.
It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time for our advice segment.
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131.3FM – The Nightfolk Network.
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Our first letter tonight comes from a listener under pressure to change their appearance.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
My mother is getting married next autumn. I'm happy for her, I am, and her fiancé's nice. Normal. It's nice to see her happy, and they're nice together. It's-- [laughs]It's nice.
She's asked me to be a bridesmaid along with my sisters, which I'm happy to do and actually looking forwards to it. But my mother and I have never really gotten along with my decisions on how to style myself.
She doesn't approve of my tattoos or the way that I dress, but she doesn't usually make a big deal about it aside from the odd joke here and there. But for the wedding, she's asking me to grow out my mane.
I don't really like my mane, it's thick and hot and I can't do anything with it, and I've found I like shaving it off in the recent months. Everyone else seems to like my lack of hair. My boyfriend loves it, my dad is supportive, my sisters find it fun, and my co-workers think it's cool.
And then there's my mum, who passively aggressively asks whether I'm thinking of growing it out for the wedding. She says it'll be "prettier" and "more feminine", but that's not really how I present myself. I like the ambiguity!
I want to make her happy, but I don't like the idea of growing it out over the next year, putting up with the awkward growing out phase, trying to figure out how to style it, all the hassle that I've been really, really glad to do without since I started shaving.
Am I being too selfish? It's just a mane, at the end of the day, and I can always cut it back down once the wedding's over. But this is over a year I'm looking at of being uncomfortable with a mane I don't like growing in just for one day. I'm at a bit of a loss, and I would really appreciate a second opinion.
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'm very happy to say the answer here is very straightforward. Your mother is being unreasonable.
This is not the same as asking you, as a member of the bridal party, to wear something in keeping with the colour scheme or even continuing the age-old tradition of putting one's bridesmaids into hideous matching gowns.
She wants you to put a great deal of time and emotional energy into drastically changing your appearance against your wishes. That's not appropriate. It's as simple as that.
The next time she brings it up, be clear and firm. You will not be growing out your mane, and you don't wish to discuss it any further. You're an adult, for goodness' sake! The time of letting your mother make your fashion choices for you is long past.
Depending on your relationship, you may want some support in maintaining this boundary. You say your sisters think your lack mane is fun. If you haven't already, let them know about this disagreement between you and your mother.
It's not about making them pick sides. You just want to let them know that there is some conflict here, and that your position is non-negotiable. Hopefully that will help them nip the matter in the bud if your mother brings it up with them in private.
You say that “it's only a mane” and you can always cut it back down again. But the issue here isn't the mane itself. It's your mother's belief that she has the right to dictate your appearance – even your gender presentation. That's unacceptable.
She won't be happy to hear you set this boundary. But fortunately, she has an entire year to get used it. The only thing you can do is communicate your feelings, and leave her to deal with her own.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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Next tonight, a listener whose yen for travel is getting in the way of their relationship.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
People always expect me to be a history buff. They think that, with my lifestyle, I must be up on the goings on of every century I visit – up to date with the fashion, the politics, that I can take one look at the architecture and the style of someone's shoes and know exactly when I am.
It doesn't work like that, of course. Partly there's no need to swot up. If you seem strange and out of place, people assume you're either a foreigner or a weirdo and leave you to it.
I try to keep roughly right according the time period I'm travelling to, especially when it comes to trousers – you would not believe the amount of information in a person's trousers. You really don't want to rock up in anti-surveillance leggings when you should be in hose and breeches. Really gives the game away.
Besides, I think it misses the point slightly. Researching everything beforehand, planning for every eventuality, deciding who you're going to try and meet and what events you want to be present for.
I prefer to find out, I don't know, what Sally the kitchen maid likes to do on her days off or where can you buy the best sausage sandwich of the century. Back or forwards, there's always days off. There's always sausage sandwiches.
I just like to live, I suppose. Whenever I am, I just want to live. Unfortunately, it's that kind of attitude that's got me into this pickle. I met someone. I'd love to say that our eyes met across a crowded room to a swell of romantic strings but we actually met in a bar brawl in Cheapside back in 1538.
I love the 16th century, nothing like it for a bit of good old dirty chaos. We just don't get fights like that any more – beer spilling all over the floor, fists and teeth and barstools flying... Valhalla schmalhalla, give me a Tudor pub on Saturday night any day.
Anyway, this guy – huge fella, built like a brick sh- a big brick thing – he had me in a headlock. And there was this crash, and looked, and-- Oh. Wild hair, doublet hanging open, split lip, breathing heavy, one gold hoop glinting in his ear... My Alexander.
He'd cracked the guy in the head with a beer mug, sent him reeling, and together we tumbled him over a table and hightailed it out of there. The adrenaline was pumping and, yeah, we'd just met but I was bleeding and he was gorgeous so when he asked me back to his rooms to help me clean up, you bet I said yes.
One thing I can tell you about time travel – any century you like, it's easier to find other queer people than you might think. Men, at least. I don't know where the women go. I've, uh. Well, I've never needed to.
Anyway, obviously this is great. He's great. I love him. He's like a big sexy pirate but with less scurvy and better manners. Why in God's name we ever let big poofy shirts go out of style, I will never know.
And obviously, I haven't told him about me. About when I'm from. About where I go, when I'm not in London. I actually usually am in London – bit of a homebody I suppose – just not the London he knows. Will ever know. Can ever know.
I love him. And I do love London c.1538. But I don't want to stay there. Not permanently, not forever. I mean, obviously if I'm there long enough it'll turn into London c.1539, but... I've got the whole of time to explore. I don't want to give that up. Not for anything. Not even for love.
I'll be in the 21st century for a bit longer – it's not my favourite, but it's comfortable enough to wait until you answer. Only, please, don't take too long. I'd like to get back to him soon. Just not forever.
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'll get straight to the point here, listener, as time is of the essence. The fact is, you're not treating your partner with the respect he deserves.
There are only two outcomes here. Either you find a compromise – an understanding that you will spend time away, travelling without him; or you will be unable to compromise, and things between you will come to an end.
The point is, your Alexander needs to have a say in that decision. And he can't do that if you don't include him.
You haven't mentioned here whether Alexander is a person of the night or has any ties with the creature community. I appreciate that England in the 1500s was not the most open-minded place in the world when it came to creature liberation. That might effect how you bring things up with him.
It would be preferable, of course, if you could tell him the whole truth, untarnished, and let him go into the conversation fully informed. But your safety is more important.
Use your judgement, and if you must obfuscate the truth, try to keep any outright lies to a minimum. It will be easier to keep track of your story, for one thing, as well as being fractionally more dignified for him.
As for the the solutions you might come to, that's really up to the two of you. You might agree to a long-distance – for want of a better word – monogamous relationship; or perhaps an arrangement whereby you are together when you're together and free agents when apart; or any number of open relationship models, polyamory, et cetera.
The important thing is that you come an agreement together, with Alexander in possession of as many of the facts as it is safe for him to know. And if he cannot be happy with a sporadically absent partner, and you cannot be happy without regular travel, then I'm afraid you're simply not right for each other. It's hard, but it happens, and you will heal. Good luck, listener, and safe travels.
We're shifting gears this evening to celebrate the annual charity auction held by the Nine Great Families of the Rapturous Dawn. This year the Families are raising money for the conservation of will o' the wisp habitats and other...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice speaking Irish, a voice saying “-very apt-”, pop music, a voice saying “-go on-”, a voice saying “-and would never add anything else-” and rock music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Forty Nine of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted by Adrianna, the second letter came from Bowl, and this week's advert came from Art. Thanks, friends. See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.
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This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence. Then:]
Hello friends, Hero here. I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a wee podcast I think listeners of Monstrous Agonies would really enjoy. The Children of Room 56 follows Sam Moss and her tight-knit group of friends as they investigate the mysteries of Spiritsford, a very nice, normal, ordinary town. And they enjoy it! At least, until one of their own disappears, and Sam and her friends must fight to find him.
The Children of Room 56 release mini-episodes on the last Friday of every month, and will continue to do so until the launch of their first season in 2022. These mini-episodes are a great introduction to world and its characters, so have a listen and whet your appetite.
The Children of Room 56 is part of the [Listless] network. Find out more about their shows at www.listless.ga. You can also find The Children of Room 56 on Twitter, Tumblr, TikTok and Instagram @Room56Pod, or jump straight in and get listening on your podcatcher of choice.