A session at WWC this past weekend was paneled by a man who knows almost all there is to know about Sherlock Holmes. The main point considered throughout the 45 minutes of Sherlockian history, popular culture, and influence was: what is it about this brilliant and reclusive detective that has captured the popular imagination for the past 125 years? His argument: we all want to be Sherlock Holmes. He is a genius, can tell amazing things from a person's appearance, and explains the most puzzling mysteries using sheer deductive reasoning. However, said this most knowledgeable man, though we all want to be Holmes, it is elementarily impossible. Nobody can become Holmes; we're more like Watson, intrigued by this astounding, tortured, and brilliant man.
I was prepared to prove the Sherlock expert and his theory wrong. I knew it wouldn't happen right away of course: I'd have to practice being observant, pay closer attention to what people said and what colour of mud was on their shoes. I'd have to pick up the violin and maybe do cocaine - just kidding. Wouldn't go that far into the character. Just into his method, basing my theories on facts gathered from around me and the neatly organized filing system on top of my bookcase.
I practiced observing everything in my friend's kitchen as I prepared myself a sandwich: how much butter was left in the butter dish, what colour of placemat was on the table, and where all the knives were kept. My sandwich needed some green, and I found in the crisper drawer an uncut cucumber. Must be new, I observed, and perhaps grown organically from its inconsistent shape. I cut off the end and nibbled it. Hmm, strong outer skin, rubbery inside. Maybe it was older than I thought. Oh well. I cut a couple of spongy discs, arranging them on top of the ham and mustard already on one of the multi-grain bread slices. That's when I realized I would never be Sherlock Holmes. Because the round pieces on my sandwich were not cucumber; I had cut up a zucchini.
Though I was crushed, it was a good sandwich. And as I sat, consuming my delicious meal, I thought maybe being Watson wasn't so bad after all.
This anthology has some great stories about Sherlock Holmes written by authours from our time: