The Jessie Withrow
Frequently Asked Questions File
Section One: The Basics
Who is Jessie Withrow?
Jessie Withrow is a female human being, approximately 20 years old,
currently a sophomore at Bates College in Lewiston, ME, majoring in Rhetoric with a minor
in Computer Science. Also, the author of this page.
Where are you from?
I grew up and am registered to vote in Anchorage, Alaska.
Is it cold there?
In the winter, yes.
If you had a band of mercenaries, what would you do with them?
Have them camp out in the hallway outside my dorm room, dicing, cooking greasy stew
over smoky cooking fires, singing battle songs, brandishing their spiky maces and
leering at all the girls passing by. They would all speak orcish. So would I. They would
be big, burly, and male, with myriad scars, and a few missing eyes, ears, and limbs
among them. They would be unshaven and bristly, wear brown leather and dirty furs, and
smell slightly odd.
They could follow me to all my classes, sit awkwardly in the little, uncomfortable
desk-chairs, and make my professors really nervous. I wouldn't bring them into Rhetoric,
since the Filene Room is already full enough, but they would definitely come with me to
Japanese. I would make them be quiet through class, but I don't think they'd be very good
at it. Wender-Sensei would politely ask them if they'd like to try answering a question or
two, like she does when pre-froshes visit, but they wouldn't fare any better with Japanese
than they do with English, I think. Every morning, I would pull myself grudgingly out of
bed, throw on some clothes, grab my notebook and my Nakama text and workbook, and
speed-walk down the stairs and across the walkway to Pettengil, cramming the day's lesson,
just as I do every day, except now I would have a small horde of surly mercenaries
trooping along behind me. I would send one or two to Commons to fetch me a chocolate
doughnut if I didn't have time to go myself. When I was late to class, I would blame it on
To keep them in shape, I would send them on forced marches to Walmart to do my shopping
for me. I'd declare myself feudal lord of one or two of the dormitories, and send my horde
around from dorm room to dorm room to collect tribute for me. If my friends also had bands
of mercenaries, we could stage turf wars over various dorms and dorm floors.
When I went to ballroom class, I would make my barbarians come with me and dance. We
would never lack for men again.
Section Two: Repulsive Personal Habits
Are you involved in any cults, secret societies, or world domination leagues?
I am a High Priestess of GATODI,
co-editor of The Garnet
(Bates' literary magazine), the Bates Discordians' Minister of Deviant Standardization,
and one of the Brooks Quimby Debate Council's many vice presidents. I also knit.
What is that black-grey dust coating your fingers?
Aluminum dust from winding links for chain mail.
What are you doing in that darkened basement laboratory at midnight?
*Melodramatic crash of thunder*
Grading Computer Science projects.
Section Three: Amazing Factoids
What percent of your body mass is composed of water?
Do you know how to ride a unicycle?
If you were a character in a silly super-hero role-playing game, what would some of
your special abilities be?
- Spontaneous Grandiose Verbosity
- Concoct Ridiculously Contrived Explanation
- Super Turbo-Knitting (allows the speedy creation of useful items out of yarn, such as
booties, tea cozies and hand grenades)
- Produce Vaguely Relevant Song Lyric (no matter how dire the situation, allows the recall
of a vitally unimportant song whose words bear some relation to what's currently going on)
How many titanium screws are currently fastened into your lower jaw?
Section Four: Media Consumption
Do you find it slightly disturbing how difficult it is to present oneself to the world
without making reference to the media products one consumes? Do you half wish that we were
more defined by what we do and what we are than by what we watch, listen to and read?
That said, who are some musicians you like?
There's this song by Dan Bern called "Chick Singers," the chorus
of which is a list of female musicians that typifies about 60% of my CD collection. The
other 4/10s is a mix of Cole Porter, Counting Crows, Garbage, Violent Femmes, Sting, Peter
Gabriel, They Might Be Giants, The Incredible String Band . . .
What do you read?
A little bit of most everything. I have a long-standing penchant for SF and fantasy,
particularly anything cyberpunk or swashbuckling. I also enjoy straight
fiction, history, political science, poetry, popular science, and trashy magazines. I
buy every issue of the comic books Books of Magic, Strangers in Paradise,
and Knights of the Dinner Table, and subscribe to the excellent, excellent feminist
Where do you spend time online?
I edit for the Open Directory Project at www.dmoz.org,
a web directory somewhat like Y*hoo! (only much better). To check out the categories I
edit, click here. (I also created
the Arts: Literature: Fiction: Horror: Cthulhu Mythos: Humor category. Don't ask.) I am
also a sometime contributor to the Internet Oracle, and can claim
four digested Oracularities to my name.
When I have time to kill, I lurk about the Slashdot
bulletin boards and the newsgroup rec.humor.oracle.d. I actuallly *post* to the Books of
When I'm in Anchorage, I listen to Native public radio station KNBA 90.3, the very best
radio station in the known universe. When at Bates, I listen to WCYY 93, which is pretty
I watch Fox from 8 to 10 every Sunday night*,
but little other TV besides. I love "Daria" and "Square One," though.
Section Five: Pointless Quotes, In-Jokes and Non Sequitors
Was someone asking about Mother Goose?
I don't think so. Look, if somebody asks where Mother Goose is, tell them
. . . tell them . . . Tell them I don't know.
What should one say after putting down a seven?
Nothing. Unless it's a club, in which case you don't say anything.
What does apotropaic mean?
Intended to ward away evil.
Do you believe in interspecies dating?
Well, I've gone out with a few rats, if that's what you mean.
Section Final: Miscellaneous
Jessie Withrow sounds like a really keen person. How may I meet her?
for an appointment. You are advised to make your reservation at least a week in advance.
Be aware that a cancellation fee applies unless 24 hours' notice is given.
Jessie Withrow sounds like a horrible demon. How may I destroy her?
Jessie is generally believed to be invincible.
However, in half-whispered rumors it is said that atop Mount Kailash, battered by icy
winds and guarded by rabid dire wolves, perches a tiny hut, within which dwells an aged
hermit. Cursed to a life of solitude for some hideous crime, his face remains ever hooded
to prevent any mortal from seeing the sorrow his eyes reflect. He, and he alone, knows the
location of a certain crevasse, no more than a small cleft in the rock, through which you
may travel, down through winding, treacherous corridors filled with choking dust and
invertebrate horrors, into the bowels of the earth, where the mountain people forge a
weapon of untold power. . .
Of course, everyone knows you're not supposed to listen to rumors.
How frequently have these questions been asked?
This is the first time, as far as I know.
How does it all end?
At that moment Mdme. Davenport let out a high-pitched squeal and sank to the floor. The
shrill reverberations still resonated in Captain L'Ampre's ears when Adrienne turned her
face to him, a look of desperation in her crystal blue eyes, and shaped her mouth into an
urgent, silent plea. The Captain was still trying to resolve what she had said into
intelligibility when Adrienne turned and fled through the open French doors and out onto
the manor's rolling lawn. Every head in the room turned to watch her flight. The billowing
white skirts of her tea gown moved farther and farther away until she was no more than a
white fly-mote on the green landscape.
"It's the hysteria," the doctor said. "It's taken her brain the way it
did her mother's." He waved his hand towards Mdme. Davenport's limp form. "Such
sights can be troubling to delicate young female minds. Let her go. The air may do some
good for her."
"But don't you find it at all suspicious . . ." Mrs. Juilesepe interjected.
"I, for one, can certainly vouch for Miss Hurn," said Mr. Scarsdale
authoritatively. He cast a sly glance at Captain L'Ampre. "And I am certain that the
Captain would do the same."
Captain L'Ampre nodded. His hearing had cleared, but his mind had not. What had
Adrienne said? In his mind's eye, he could see her rosebud lips move. The shapes they
made, though -- he could no more make sense of them than he could make sense of Adrienne
On the parquet, Mdme. Davenport began to rouse. Mrs. Juilesepe and the doctor rushed to
her side. Mrs. Juilesepe ran a hand over her friend's brow. "Connie, my dear, are you
The Captain thrust his hands into his jacket pockets. His right fingers brushed against
the packet the maid had slipped onto his breakfast tray that morning. Between the day's
excitements, he had not had time to examine it, or even to open it. He wrapped his hand
around the odd shape, prodding it with a gentle touch. The paper had torn in one place --
he slipped a finger under the wrapping, and felt a texture chilling, yet comfortingly
familiar. He slid his finger back and forth across its surface, loosening the wrapping.
Suddenly, something inside him clicked, and he knew in an instant who had sent the package
and what Adrienne's last words to him had been. The three syllables sounded in his brain
as clear as a gunshot, and they seemed to him an exaltation, a promise of love
everlasting. Overwhelmed by the rosy feeling swelling within his heart, he had no thought
but to obey them.
Captain L'Ampre pulled his hand from his pocket still clenched around the grenade's
cool metallic shell. He raised his arm up towards the heavens, and, with trembling
fingers, pulled the pin.
This page was last updated February 17, 2000.