In a stone house in the middle of Lisbon there lived a young girl. Not a nasty, dirty, wet stone house, filled with green and black mold, nor yet a dry, bare, modern stone house with nothing in it but glass and rubber light fixtures that jiggle when you touch them: it was a Portuguese stone house, and that means comfort.

It had an old wooden door painted a bright blue, with a wooden knob and lock, which the young girl was certain was merely ornamental. The door opened on a long hallway which served as the house’s mudroom with lots and lots of pegs and hooks for hats, jackets, garden tools, bits of rope, hanging garlic, a plastic bag full of plastic bags, and mud boots of various colors and smells. This mud room led straight into a kitchen, and thence to the rest of the house: a living room with a generous fireplace and the stairway, which led to three upstairs bedrooms.

This young Portuguese girl was a very well-to-do young girl who was going places, and her name was Tethys although her uncle—and everyone else—called her Teresa. When the young girl discovered this, she was furious as you will see. Her uncle had lived in the stone house for time out of mind, and people considered him very respectable, not only because he had been to the wars in Angola where he had done his duty for the government of the time, but had returned, for the most part, a well-adjusted adult, which, if you’ve ever met a war vet, is a remarkable feat of psychological gymnastics. Most of his neighbors found him dull, but it was Teresa who named him tedioso.