Ask Archer: In the Can
Archer Answers Your Big Questions

Dear Prof. Archer,

You are just too cuddly. Eeeee! Can I rub your belly?



Touchy Fangirl


Dear Touchy Fangirl,


I always welcome such enthusiastic exclamations. Thank you, kind miss. Pronouncements of this sort are the very best, indeed.

With that said, I must point out that your letter is most inappropriate. Such diction belies poor breeding, I must say. You have, however, come to the right animal for your rudeness. As I am known to be something of an excellent breeder, I shall show you proper breeding.

Your short, however cheerful, message suddenly reminded me of my childhood. There was I, an innocuous little pup, on the first day of boarding school. While partaking of school dinner, I asked the headmistress, Mrs. Finchwhistle, “Can I have some more pudding?” The dear old lady with the ursine arms immediately shuffled over to my station and asked me to put my paws on the table. She tut-tutted most amiably then used her favored yardstick to swiftly wallop my exposed knuckles. She said, “Yes, you can, but you may not.” Oh, those were the days – sweet Mrs. Finchwhistle, always ready to crack a pup’s knuckles with her wooden straightedge. My admiration for her shall always stay alive, unlike her. G– rest her soul…

I recall that another teacher would respond, “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” – but he’s not important. A man simply needs to drop a Floydian reference sometimes because he has to. Please carry on.

Yes, you can, but you may not.” What Mrs. Finchwhistle meant was that I definitely had the capability, via my digestive system, to have some more pudding, only that she would not grant me her permission to do so. The distinction lies herein: can denotes capability, whereas may denotes permission. One may ask, for example, “Can you chase your own tail?” This sentence questions whether one is physically able to chase one’s own tail, and my answer is yes. The same effect would apply for “Can you lick your own genitals?” – but of course, since I am a dog. On the other hand, one may also ask, “May I chase your tail?” This sentence is asking one’s consent for his or her tail to be chased, and I would say, ‘anytime.’ A similar intent is expressed in, “May I lick your – ” What’s that?! A cat?!

So then, in answer to your query: yes, you may, but you can not. I shall always welcome a brisk tummy rub, after all. I am a real dog, you see. You, however, are a fictitious character of a questionable person’s invention. You do not have the ability to manually render unto me any physical pleasure – no rubbing of bellies, no chasing of tails, and no licking of – what’s that?! Another cat?!


I remain, yours, most licking-ly,

Archer (Prof.)


P.S. You may find my previous columns HERE.

Categories: [language], [self-help]

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