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The View from the East End (68)

By Inspector Hopkins

July 1, 2007

Why I’ll never make the BSI

by Inspector Hopkins

Many newcomers to Sherlockiana aspire to someday be honored by the invitation to join the ranks of the esteemed Sherlockians we call the “Baker Street Irregulars”, known as the BSI for short.

Recall that this select group of people meets each year in New York City during the first week of January. Attendance at the Annual Dinner is by invitation only, and each year several of the invitees are inducted, or “investitured”, into this exclusive scion. Part of the fun and suspense is that no one knows when or whether he or she will be asked to join. Recall further that there seems to be no set criteria for membership, but it is generally assumed that if you are an active Sherlockian with some accomplishments, you may well be invited to the annual BSI Dinner. As I have written before, if you are an invitee, you may, or may not, be inducted into the BSI that evening. If you are not inducted, you may, or may not, be invited to the next annual dinner, etc.

After being the perennial “Sherlockian Sophomore” that I have the past several years, and after due consideration of all my skills, abilities, and accomplishments, I have come to the sad conclusion that I will never be able to join this august group.

It isn’t because I have haven’t been an active Sherlockian!    I have been involved with a great deal of Sherlockian activities, have a small collection of books, enjoy watching my Jeremy Brett CD’s, and am always working on my “Just the Facts” database.

It isn’t because I haven’t joined any scion societies!  I am a member of a number of them up and down the East End, and visit them as regularly as I can.  I have given a number of toasts at these meetings and have helped write some of the quizzes given at them. I also am a co-host in our weekly Sherlockian chat room on AOL.

And it certainly isn’t because I haven’t contributed to the field of study! Anyone who has been following all these little articles the past few years can attest to that.  I have also been fortunate enough to submit articles to other websites and presented a paper at the Dayton Symposium, which was then later accepted by the Baker Street Journal.

What then, you ask, could be the reason?

The sad truth is that I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag, let alone find my way around New York!  The thought of all those millions of people shouting and pushing and shoving their way through the subways and taxis and tunnels is frightening. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I have no idea of how to even begin taking mass transportation. Long lines for buses, taxis, trains, airports, etc. all intimidate me. Being jammed into a subway car with no idea of where I am going would be a total nightmare. Recall that if it wasn’t for my good friend (and new BSI member) Paul Churchill, I wouldn’t have made it to Washington DC and back alive!  I do know enough, however, to realize that it would be sheer insanity to attempt to even think about actually driving through Washington or New York.  And if it snows, forget it, pal. Everything on the East End comes to a screeching halt. Snowstorms in those cities give new meaning to the word “gridlock”. You may as well start writing your last will and testament on the back on an envelope and pray that you don’t run out of gas and freeze to death by morning. (If you have an envelope, that is. You did remember to bring a blanket with you, didn’t you?)

(*sigh*) There . . . okay . . . now I’ve told you.  I’ve been a closet agoraphobe all this time and I’m finally coming clean. It isn’t the driving, but it’s the unfamiliarity, tension, and congestion that give me the creeps.   I’d rather drive 1200 miles to Fairborn Ohio and back, than try and negotiate a 75-mile trip to the concrete canyons of the Big Apple.

But as they say, the first step to recovery is admitting your problem, right?

Until he’s cured of his phobia though, this particular Sherlockian will have to content himself with being on the sidelines when it comes to the Baker Street Irregulars. Some of us are destined for greatness within the big cities, and some others are not. So I might not have what it really takes to be a member of the BSI, but as John Denver used to sing, “Thank God I’m a country boy”.

Until next time, and thanking you for your attention, I remain as always,

Yours Faithfully,