The Order of Logogustation’s Christmas feast was taking place. We had scheduled it this year on the tenth day of Christmas (January 3), at the usual place: the Rather Good Hall of Domus Logogustationis. This year, as a plus, we had planned for the playings of Placido, a fellow whom Maury introduced as his second cousin once removed. Placido is a minstrel, and he came equipped with pibgorn, shawm, and theorbo, but commenced the evening with juggling all over the place, followed by storytelling from place to place.
Storytelling has its place, to be sure, but it seemed a bit out of place when we wished to be passing pleasantries and plotting plans and, of course, tasting words. As dinner – a poached flatfish, not flounder but plaice – was being placed before us, we became somewhat plaintive; I pulled Maury aside and asked him to plead for some pleasant pluckings or pipings. He sidled over to Placido.
“Placido, old pal,” Maury said, “it would be a plus if you could play us a piece.”
“A piece? A piece for a piece,” said Placido. “If you place a piece of plaice at my place, I’ll play you a piece.”
“Plaice at your place?”
Placido pointed to the fish. “I sing for my supper. Place a piece of plaice on my plate at my place, if you please.”
“That seems a bit out of place.”
“You’re out of plaice? You seem to have a plethora.”
“No,” said Maury, “it’s just that there’s a time and place for everything.”
“Yes, and it’s now time for my plaice.”
“Your place is playing for our pleasure.”
Placido looked over his shoulder at the place he had placed his instruments. “Sounds fishy to me. I think you’re codding me. And I wouldn’t want a cod piece.”
“Neither cod nor plaice. We’re paying; play, please.”
Placido spied Maury’s plate, freshly placed, and slipped over and planted himself in Maury’s chair. “I shall displace you.”
“You shall displease me. You should know your place.”
Placido, implacable, pointed at the fish. “This is my plaice, and I know it. What are you going to do, replace me?”
But Placido had not observed who he had planted himself next to: Marilyn Frack. With a creak of her black leather pantsuit, she leaned over and placed her hand on the plush pleats of Placido’s jaunty jacket. “Is that pleather?”
Placido turned his head to her. “Pleather? Please!”
She stroked it some more. “It just seems too… plush… for leather.”
Her other half, Edgar Frick, chimed in from beyond her: “Indeed, it seems plain it’s some kind of plant matter. Or plastic.”
“People!” Placido said. “I may not be a plutocrat, but I can… Please!” He pulled away as Marilyn planted her lips on the sleeve and proceeded to bite it.
Marilyn looked back up at Edgar and shook her head. “Doesn’t taste plausibly like leather.”
Placido stood up. “In the first place, I paid good money for this…”
Maury took the chance to sit in his place. “And we’re paying good money for you. For which you get neither pride of place nor a prime piece of plaice. You just get to play us pieces. Please. After which you can eat fish in the kitchen.” He leaned closer to Placido and said in a dangerous purr, “You’re once removed already. Shall we make it twice?”
Edgar, drily eyeing his wine glass, said, “Must we implore you?”
Marilyn reached over and plopped her palm on Placido’s posterior. “Or should we explore you?”
Placido pulled back so rapidly he almost ran in place. “Your pleasure is – um, my command is – ah, I was just playing around. I’ll play some now!” And he picked up his pibgorn and – as we ate our plaice and had a pleasant chat about place and plaice both likely being related to flat through Greek πλατύς platus (“broad”) – played a merry hornpipe on the far side of the place: pretty, but perhaps a little flat.