Pes in orae
RANGE: This embarrassing sprite can pop out anywhere, but the more
delicate the situation, the more likely her materialization.
She frequently appears during introductions to important and sensitive
strangers, and one finds oneself uttering, “The pleasure is neutral, I’m sure.”
At testimonials: “How can you ever thank me enough?” Or on any occasion
when you would most like to keep your feelings to yourself and just make
small talk: “Well, hello! I have been looking forward to mating with you!”
Funeral parlors are among her favorite haunts: “My feet are killing me”;
“Honestly, I could have just died”; “That’s a dead issue”; and “Sorry we were
late, but we were buried in traffic.” These are just a few examples of her
HABITS: Not for nothing is the Freudian Sylph also known as the Truth
Fairy. She cruelly deceives you into believing that you can untie your knotted
tongue by putting your foot in your mouth.
Herewith follow some examples of her work—no need to describe the
company in which she caused the following utterances: “It was a pretty lame
excuse.” “Fat chance.” “Call me a cockeyed optimist, but…” “Of course, it
was a bald lie!” and “Well, they say love is blind …”
Sometimes the Freudian Sylph makes actions speak louder than words,
as when she inspires the hostess to murmur a seemingly innocuous “Sweets
for the sweet” before passing the nuts to an outpatient or a shrimp to a little
A human being plagued by these creatures often feels a deep-seated
compulsion to pay large amounts of money to a self-proclaimed Exorcist (or
Therapist) for the privilege of stretching out on a Naugahyde divan and
raving on about his or her dreams. The Sylphs themselves are extremely
diminutive and thus feel no need to be shrunk.
HISTORY: Freudian Sylphs are among the most recently uncovered of
preternatural beings, the first of them having emerged, unbidden, from the
mouth of a Viennese neurotic in this century.
They breed like Gypsies (as one would doubtless observe, in the
company of a Roumanian), and spread like cancer (to change the metaphor to
one regrettable but inevitable in the presence of a chemotherapy patient).
The Sylphs arrived in America hidden away in the corners of the very
interestingly shaped carpet bags of immigrant psychoanalysts. They have
been especially active in the political realm, and have inspired many a
revealing gaffe—for example, the Senator who meant to say, “All these nice
bright faces” or the Congressman who explained, “I’m in favor of restoring
Among their recent masterpieces was the statement by a U.S. diplomat
that the Arabs and Jews should settle their differences in a Christian manner.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: A Freudian Sylph looms, and prepares to pounce,
wherever the well intentioned socialize with the vulnerable, wherever a
sudden intimation of lust or hostility would do the most harm.
One becomes aware of a personal visitation by the creature when, as the
words leave one’s mouth, one has the sensation of having stepped into an
open elevator shaft.
In her wake, the Freudian Sylph leaves twitching clusters of mortals,
humiliated, exposed, blushing furiously, and improvising violent coughing