Not in the poem – the back bone of the book Pale Fire – but in the rather boring prose accompanying it, did Nabokov include the phrase ‘ivory back scratcher’.
Those words, methinks, deserved to be included in the verse. Highly inciting the imagination, they imply the poetic notion of a pale majestic woman – ivory-colored, well-arsed and likewise proportionally equipped – who grazes the delicate skin of my back.
As imagination is not all that practical, man must seek alternatives. Now that both wings are clipped – an inflamed little tendon in each of my shoulders – it has become impossible to perform the acrobatics of the self-scratcher.
Thus I long for the real ivory thing.
Such objects, however, are beyond my purse and not all that easy to procure anyway. Being an esthete, I would settle for a second hand version, however not for one second rate.
So, the pragmatist finds his solution. In the middle of the night, an itch tormenting this insomniac, I pick up this rather rude object and manage to perform the trick.
Your bricoleur, always looking for solutions in the house, at his best – this long spoon, once used to get the last bit of French cassis sorbet ice from its long, thin vessel, now performing its back scratching job.
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