Damn I love perl.
Since HTML::Element was not playing friendly and sticking to the class methods, I was having to jump through all sorts of hoops in order to let my sub classed objects frolick freely with regular element trees. I was having to override all sorts of methods in order do achieve that goal, which decreased efficiency and ease of maintenance.
Finally, I just said to hell with it; when necessary, I tie a special array class to the content that "does the right thing" when that element is masked -- now it doesn't matter who pokes around in the object internals. Hah!
I'll probably go to some sort of programmer hell for it, but it trimmed about 100 lines of needless, unmaintainable code.