• H.R. Owen

Episode Forty Three

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Episode Forty Three


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Monstrous Agonies E43S02 Transcript


[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Forty Three.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through piano music, a voice saying “-expectations-”, a voice saying “-we'd be, uh, there-” and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]


The Presenter

-carved into your arm, so you don't forget.


Time now for our weekly advice segment, after this word from our sponsor.


[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

Sponsored by Quoth the Raven's Stylish and Practical Furniture for the Discerning Home-Maker. Specialists in wing-back chairs – chairs for backs with wings.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Our first letter tonight is from a foodie fighting to find a compromise.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

One of the best things about polyamory is that you get to be in a relationship with all sorts of different people. Take my polycule, for example. We have plenty in common in terms of politics and philosophy and so on, but we've got a real grab bag of interests and life experiences. And we're all from different genuses!


Admittedly, that does make its own difficulties. Scheduling around nocturnal, diurnal and crepuscular rhythms is a bit of a nightmare, and don't even get me started on the thermostat. But our main problem is around eating together.


We manage perfectly well when we're eating at home – everyone mucks in with the cooking and we know each other's needs well enough to keep mistakes and missteps to a minimum. But going out to eat is, uh... functionally impossible to honest.


One of us is paleo, and another is an obligate carnivore. The dryad is, naturally, vegan, and I can't abide garlic. We also each have different levels of tolerance to cold iron, which you wouldn't think would be an issue but you'd be surprised how much iron features in the decor of restaurants in Brighton. It's like being allergic to Mason jars.


It all makes for some pretty tedious arguing, when we'd rather be spending our time discussing attachment styles or playing Bananagrams or something. I know it's not a very serious problem, given some of the things you answer on here, but I would appreciate your help. Please?


The Presenter (as themselves)

First of all, please don't worry about your concern not being “serious”. It was important enough for you to take the time to write in, and your request for help is sincere enough for your letter to be selected. That's all that matters.


I'm afraid there's not much you can do about the lack of appropriate restaurants in your area. There is something to be said for raising awareness of diverse dietary needs, bringing the matter to the attention of restaurant owners and so on, but that's a far bigger project than getting dinner for your family.

Consider instead ways you could bring elements of the restaurant experience into your home. What is it about being in a restaurant specifically that you enjoy sharing with your polycule? If it's the presence of lots of other people, invite some friends over for a dinner party. If you don't want to cook, ordering take-away gives you the luxury of restaurant-made food with the convenience of being able to order from multiple locations at once.

Going out to eat is also an act of setting aside special time and space to concentrate on your loved ones. Doing that at home is difficult. Your home naturally echoes with the day to day dramas and concerns that take place within it. But there are lots of ways you might make dinner at home feel just as special as in a restaurant.

You might try decorating your eating space with candles or flowers; setting rules about the use of mobile phones and other electronics during the meal; or dressing up in the clothes you would wear for a night out. We aren't really in the right time of year for eating out of doors, but that might also be something to bear in mind for the warmer months.


With a little thought, energy and effort, I feel sure you and your polycule will find a way to share food and each other's company in a way that suits all of you.


[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

The Nightfolk Network – the UK's only dedicated radio service for the creature community.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Next tonight – when commitment brings its own difficulties.


The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

When I first started out in this career, I never imagined it would end up like this. I'd just quit my job and thought it would be a good way to keep busy and earn a bit of cash while I was looking around for something more permanent.


But it turned out, I had rather a knack for it. An eye for detail, a healthy disregard for the law, and enough imagination to dream up the kinds of escapades that put most, uh... let's call us "adventurers"... to shame.


But what really kept me in the job was how much fun I was having. If you knew me, you'd be laughing right now. People don't tend to associate me with the word "fun". But contrary to popular opinion, I do, in fact, have a sense of humour. And this work really brought it out in me.

It's a competitive field. There's always someone out there looking to snatch the same artefact or undermine your rituals and so on. Not to blow my own trumpet but most of my... colleagues? Don't constitute much of a threat. The freelancers, at least. Once the bigger organisations get involved, things can get messy, but if it comes to a one-to-one battle of wits, I'm betting on me. Every time.


There's only one person who's consistently given me a run for my money. She's, uh... everything I'm not. Spontaneous. Reckless. Ridiculous. She throws herself into these hare-brained schemes – and they are schemes, I don't care what she says. She's always up to her eyeballs in mischief, making a mess of all my careful plans, getting in the way and generally making a nuisance of herself. Not to mention the puns.


It's very annoying and I disapprove entirely.


Back in May, she, um, [clears throat] asked if I wanted to be her nemesis. Silly thing, really. I honestly hadn't even considered it. If I had considered it I might have said something along the lines of, "Took you bloody long enough!" But I hadn't. So I didn't.


I agreed. I don't see any good reason not to. And we got to it. I suppose it's true what they say. When you realise you want to spend the rest of your life thwarting someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Only, I have to say, she really hasn't been on her game. Her latest job was a heist involving one very old money family, a thoroughly cursed tiara, and an admittedly adorable caterers uniform. I was quite looking forwards to it. Putting a stop to it, I mean. I didn't care much for the tiara itself but it had been a while since we'd locked horns and I missed it.

And it all went off without a hitch. Not a single hitch. No last minute switcheroos, no traps, no decoys, I didn't even lose a henchman. It was like she was letting me win.


I had hoped she was playing a long game, you know? I'd get home and she'd be in my apartment and reveal the time-delay curse she'd put on me or the poison in my ginger beer or something. But she... just wasn't there. Nothing happened.


It's not how I thought having a nemesis would be. I thought that extra intention would bring an extra intensity. But it's like the commitment has sucked the joy out of it. We've run into each other a few times since but i-it's not the same. It's not... fun. And whatever else she might be, [laughing wryly] she is fun.


Have we made a horrible mistake? Or is this just what happens when you become someone's nemesis – the shine wears off? How do we get the spark back in our antagonism?


The Presenter (as themselves)

I don't think you've made any mistake here, listener. This kind of recalibration at the beginning of a committed nemesis relationship is perfectly normal, if not particularly comfortable.


It sounds to me as if your nemesis has fallen into the common pitfall of mistaking the solemnisation of your relationship for a change in the relationship itself.


Let me explain. Back in May, you and she agreed to change the way you talked about each other. You made a fairly formal commitment to one another as sworn enemies, and devoted yourselves to a deep and personal loathing.


But that commitment was only possible because the relationship was there already. You were already feuding quite happily with one another, had found one another's weak points, fallen into step with one another rhythms. You knew each other with vicious intimacy.


What passed between the two of you in May was an acknowledgement of what was already there – a formalisation, not a founding. But I think it may have put the wind up your associate rather. She may be feeling the pressure of living up to the expectations that a nemesis might have, panicking in the face of what she thinks you want from her, and forgetting in the process that you have never asked her to be anything other than what she already is: a thorn in your side.

There's no way to ask someone to be your nemesis without admitting to a significant depth of feeling for them. She may be feeling a little vulnerable, or uncomfortable with the idea of wreaking havoc against you so soon after such an admission. I think she needs to be reminded of what brought the two of you together to begin with.


Try setting up a scheme of your own. Put that eye for detail and remarkable imagination to work and craft an encounter that will speak to her strengths as a worthy foe. It sounds like she's shying away from really showing her talents, but I'm sure you'll be able to concoct a plan that will bring her out of her shell.


Alternatively, you might try venturing into collaboration. See if you can find a short-term project for the two of you to work on together, giving her the opportunity to stretch her legs and show off her wiles without turning them against you. And if she needs an extra push, you can always betray her at the eleventh hour. The classics are classics for a reason, after all.


That's all we have time for tonight. Next on the Nightfolk Network – tentacles!

[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-try today-” and a voice saying “you know, work, work, um, work, work-” before fading out.


Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]


H.R. Owen

Episode Forty Three of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.


Tonight's first letter was from a submission by the_ragnarok and this week's advert came from Bowl. Thanks, friends! See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.


If you're enjoying the programme, please consider supporting it on Patreon at patreon.com/monstrousagonies. You can also help us grow the show by sharing with your friends and familiars, and by following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.


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]


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