Let’s Put on a Show!

Like every red-blooded American boy of a certain age–gay or straight–the first time I saw Judy Garland I fell deeply and tragically in love.  Those big cocker spaniel eyes; the quivering lip when faced with perplexity; the slightly pudgy midsection; the permanent wave that anticipated Farrah Fawcett’s flaring side-bangs of the seventies.  She was, as the French would say, trop pour moi.  Also des saucisses, sans doubte.

 

Babes in Arms
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in “Babes in Arms”

 

But what I and my somewhat effeminate friend Dennis loved about her most was her willingness to stop whatever she was doing, no matter how important, and break into song.  Some of the transitions were awkward, of the “. . . and that’s why I say–” variety memorably mocked by comedian Jonathan Winters in his stand-up send-up of Broadway shows.  But we didn’t care.

 


Jonathan Winters

 

No, Judy was our heroine, and not just because of The Wizard of Oz, one of those classic movies an indulgent teacher might actually let you watch in the classroom as a study aid to Frank Baum’s text.  Judy–like Dennis and I–had a dream burning inside her, an eternal internal flame, and she wasn’t going to let anybody or anything stand in her way.

puppet show
Actual backyard puppet show

 

In Dennis’s case, that dream was his own backyard puppet show.  He didn’t care what the rough boys said about him; he just went ahead and built his jerry-rigged puppet theatre, set it up in his front yard, tried to charge admission–a dismal failure, since you could stand outside his fence and watch for free–and then put on his show.

Just like Judy and Mickey Rooney in “Babes in Arms,” the mother of all “Let’s put on a show” shows, not to get too meta on you.  It was Judy who said “We’ve gotta have a great show, with a million laughs . . . and color . . . and a lot of lights to make it sparkle.  And songs–wonderful songs. And after we get the people in that hall, we’ve gotta start ‘em in laughing right away. Oh, can’t you just see it?”


Er, you may want to re-think the minstrel number.

 

In that 1939 movie, Mickey and Judy put on a show because their parents, aging vaudevillians, won’t take them on a revival tour, sort of like Ozzie Osborne not wanting to let his kids perform in a Black Sabbath reunion concert.  The “Let’s put on a show” theme has morphed into something larger with a much broader reach; it is now used as an inspiration when times seem bleakest, a ray of hope in your darkest hour in a wide variety of situations.  Outbreak of bubonic plague?  Mudslide in the Chilean Andes?  Forty-car pileup on fog-shrouded highway?  Let’s put on a show!

The number of Let’s-Put-on-a-Show movies is in the low double figures, including such cinema classics as Blues Brothers, The Full Monty, White Christmas and Hannah Montana.  South Park and SpongeBob Square Pants have used the theme, as has The Onion.  It’s not too great of a stretch to say that one-off benefits such as Farm Aid are real-life derivatives of the phenomenon, a sort of life-imitates-art inversion.


“The band sucks–but they’re all we’ve got.”

 

The importance in life of merely putting on a show was impressed upon me in college when, trying to make time with the most popular woman on campus, I uttered some cutting remark about a half-assed band playing covers of Grateful Dead songs at a backyard party.  “Well, at least they’re doing something to make life more enjoyable around here,” she said with disdain bordering on contempt.  Also bordering on Lake Michigan, since we were in Chicago.

I took that lesson to heart, and as a result have since put on plays of my own composition in venues large and small, but mainly small.  The basement of a former grade school.  A room in a YMCA next to the indoor swimming pool, which steeped the audience with the smell of chlorine.


“Some guy in there thinks he’s Hamlet or sumpin’.”

 

I reached the nadir of my experience as playwright one night in Salem, Massachusetts–that’s right, where they used to burn witches.  I had responded to a “call for scripts” and my hockey-themed play was selected for a reading!  When I arrived at the address the night of the performance I found–a pizza parlor.  Thinking there was some mistake, I took a walk up and down the block.  No performance space to be seen.

After standing around for awhile a fellow showed up and introduced himself as one of the actors.  Where were we going to put on the play? I asked.  “In there,” he said.  “After they close.”

 


“Alas, poor Yorick.  He ordered the anchovy.”

 

And so, after the last slice of pepperoni and mushroom had been served, the world premier of What Mickey Belle Isle Told You was held before an audience of precisely one (1); the janitor, who was sweeping up.

But these are the indignities that backyard impresarios and community theatre playwrights endure for your sake, to make of the world a brighter place, one where children laugh, and hearts are free, where men put on shows and women love ‘em.

Instead of the guys in that Godawful Grateful Dead cover band.

Tractor Pull Finds New Fans on Urban Streets

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.  First it was Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, an inexpensive lager favored by poor rustic whites and immortalized in the country song “Red Neck, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer,” then adopted by hipsters.  Then it was the music of Johnny Cash, whose rural noir look and tough guy attitude caught on with a generation of urban twenty-somethings more familiar with country clubs than country music.

pbr

Now another institution originally associated only with the sticks has come to the big city: tractor pulls, a motorsport in which self-described “po’ white trash” drag a heavy metal sled along a dirt track until they can go no further.  The competition has come to urban centers with a twist, however; instead of snarling, turbo-charged farm vehicles, city “power pullers” are limited to hybrids such as the Toyota Prius in deference to the green prejudices of highly-educated post-adolescent types who live in zip codes where the only cash crop is marijuana.

tractor

“There’s no way I could keep my girlfriend Lilith if I drove one of those gas-guzzling carbon-spewing monstrosities,” says Evan Wilentz, a barista at the Central Square Starbucks who’s thinking of going back to school to get a masters degree in phenomeno-phrenology, the study of what the study of philosophy does to your head.  “When she takes a cab she asks the driver not to idle at stoplights,” he recounts with an air of chagrin.
hybrid
273.6 volts of snarling environmental sensitivity!

 

Tractor-pulling season typically reaches its peak in late August around the country as the event is a staple at county and state fairs, and so the organizers of the first Green Power Pull in Cambridge history have followed suit to stage their event in unseasonably cool summer weather on Massachusetts Avenue, the busiest street in the town where brains are more highly valued than brawn.  “We need our students to get in touch with the rest of America,” says Eliot Shawn, a retired dean at the University of Southern New England, a “Gold” sponsor of the event.  “They’ll be bossing them around in a few years, so it’s important they learn how to relate.”

The finals pit Wilentz against Tynan Bigbee, a bartender at Paul’s Pub in Porter Square, whose Honda Accord Plug-In model has been modified, just like the midwestern tractor jockeys he sort of emulates.  “I added a lot of cool stuff,” he notes with pride.  “There’s a sun-roof, and a 6-CD changer and Blue Tooth.”

The two take their places at the starting line and, with the drop of a flag they are off, each dragging a sledge behind him onto which denizens of the Athens of America climb as their respective wussmobiles make their way down the street.

“I’m on!” squeals Melinda Pickets, a jewelry-maker who crafts earrings out of discarded bottle caps and road kill she finds in the street.  “It serves a dual purpose,” she tells this reporter.  “It gets ugly trash off the street and onto the earlobes of my customers.”


“Earrings out of a dead pigeon?  Awesome!”

 

“So am I!” shouts her friend Amy Fenster-Bender, a buyer at a used record store across the steet.

The two women are joined by others until the hybrid vehicles begin to slow, sputter and then peter out as they approach the Cambridge City Hall, famous for its outdoor musical chimes that annoy nearby residents at taxpayer expense.

“I’m gonna beat you!” Wilentz shouts at Bigbee over their engines’ whine, and it is indeed the Prius that triumphs over the Plug-In Accord by a nose.

But, like angry NASCAR drivers who have “swapped paint” down the straightaway at Talledega Superspeedway, the two are at each other’s throats as soon as the winner is declared, with Bigbee playing the part of the aggressor.

“You bastard!” he shouts and lunges at the Prius owner, grabbing him around the neck before an official from NEHTPA–the New England Hybrid Tractor Pull Association–separates them.

“What is your problem, man?” Wilentz counters, genuinely mystified as to the source of his rival’s anger.

“I woulda won if . . .”

“If what?”

“If I’d had a longer extension cord.”

Sans-Serif Forces Capture Garamond Capital in Typeface Clash

GLYPH, Garamond.  Internecine fighting in this war-torn region abated yesterday as Sans-Serif fighters from the province of Calibri took control of the capital of Garamond, previously held by Serif loyalists.


“Gimme a V!”

“We have been welcomed as liberators,” said Gill Sans, leader of the rebel forces.  “The people threw off their serifs and danced in the streets.”


Claude Garamond, “The Father of His Typeface”

Serif forces downplayed the importance of the loss of the city, saying they would regroup and return to fight another day.  “This is typical of provincial Sans-Serif thinking,” said Caslon Frutiger.  “We have 26 capitals, the loss of one here or there is like change behind the sofa cushions.”

Sans-Serifs are so named because they do not wear “serifs,” a fine cross stroke at the top or bottom of a letter’s make-up.  They model themselves after “sans-culottes,” French revolutionaries who refused to wear culottes to pep rallies and sock hops during the 1960s.  The Garamond region, like Alsace-Lorraine, has been the scene of fierce territorial battles since the invention of moveable type in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg, with Serifs holding the upper hand until the twentieth century when Sans-Serif fonts flooded into the region to handle jobs Serifs refused, such as desktop publishing.

“We are the whipping boys of typography,” said Arial Helvetica, a young woman who says she has faced persecution for using a Comic Sans font to make signs for her tent in the refugee camp at Andale Mono.  “They say you can get diseases from walking around without serifs, but I like a more casual look.”

With Arthur Rimbaud at the Chamber of Commerce

French poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote most of his well-known works as a teenager, then abandoned poetry for a mercantile career.

                                              Poetry Magazine


Rimbaud

 

It’s 11:45 and I’m standing outside Rimbaud’s Hardware, waiting for my friend Art to break away so we can head over to the Chamber of Commerce lunch at the Bothwell Hotel.  Art is listening to a customer complain about a lawn sprinkler he bought the week before–apparently the guy can’t figure out how to change the flow from one side to the other without getting soaked.

“Easiest thing to do is just turn off the hose for a second,” Art is saying to the man, an old duffer in one of those “scrambled-egg” hats worn by captains of U.S. Navy vessels and–for reasons that have never been clear to me–retirees.


When all else fails, read the owner’s manual.

 

“You think that will work?” the old man is saying to Art, who’s trying–but not too hard–to break away for lunch.  That’s Art for you–he’s got a cardboard sign in his little office that says “The customer is always right.”

“Try it and see,” Art says as he pats the man on the arm and starts towards the door.  “If it doesn’t work, you bring it back in here for a full refund.  If you’ve got the original packaging and the product is not damaged and you pay a $5 re-shelving fee,” he adds facetiously.


“If it ain’t right–we’ll fix it!  For a price.”

 

“I will, I will,” the man says.  I think he’s a little hard of hearing.

“Hey there!” Art says as he sees me lingering outside his door.  “Let’s skedaddle–I don’t want to be late.”

It’s amazing the transformation that has been wrought in the former decadent poete maudite since he turned twenty-one and his old man told him the gravy train was coming to a screeching halt.  I guess he looked at himself in the mirror one morning and realized that if he wanted to eat three square meals a day, poetry wasn’t the line of business for him.


Cool black light basement rec room!

 

He came back to Charleville where we grew up and threw himself into the family business with a gusto that surprised a lot of people who remembered him hanging around the Dog ‘n Suds leaning against the cherry T-Bird his grandmother bought him when he turned sixteen, or smoking pot beneath the purple glow of black lights in basements occupied by loser friends of ours who were living with their parents while they tried to put off adulthood.

He had in fact turned into a much sought-after inspirational speaker for fraternal society lunch meetings.  One week the Rotary, next the Optimists, then the Lions Club, the Moose, the Elks, and so on.  He did it all without pay, too.  He said he wanted to give back to the community, since the warm bath of affection that our small town offered a well-meaning but prodigal son who returned to the fold had saved him from a life of absinthe, bad art and boring poetry slams.  “I found the celebrities of modern painting and poetry ridiculous,” he said, shaking his head ruefully when we first got together for a pitcher of beer shortly after he returned from the big city.


Rimbaud hangin’ with his homeys.

 

“One single true word–COME BACK,” he said in explanation of his homecoming, inadvertently revealing the poor math skills that made it necessary for him to hire a full-time bookkeeper.

His parents forgave him all the money he’d blown in his bohemian youth, but his dad said he’d have to start at the very bottom of the Rimbaud’s Hardware corporate org chart and work his way up.  He got the message, stopped wasting his time driving around town every night, put his nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel–and he hasn’t looked back since!  “Idle youth, enslaved to everything!” he had groaned one night after having one too many Busch Light beers.  “By being too sensitive I have wasted my life!”

We make our way into the hotel and see a few Chamber members chewing the fat.  There’s Hiram Muller, State Farm insurance agent; Bob Dunn, who owns the new AMF Bowladrome on the western edge of town; and C.J. Turner, the Chevy-Buick-GMC dealer.

“Hey Art!” Turner yells as he swivels his double chin around when he spies us out of the corner of his eye.  “You preachin’ a sermon today?”

“You will always be a hyena!” Rimbaud laughs as he claps Turner on the shoulder before shaking hands all around.  I have to admit, he’s got the gift of gab that a small businessman needs to succeed in a world dominated by big chain stores.

We take the elevator up to the second floor and see a bunch of members milling around, making small talk.  Since Art’s on the program today he’s supposed to sit up at the dais, while I take a seat at a table with Hiram and Bob and C.J.

As always, we start the meeting with a prayer, led to my surprise by Art himself.  Although he’d been one of the first of our teenage gang to go atheist, he had a religious experience, a sort of St. Paul knocked on his ass on the road to Damascus deal.  He was coming out of Hersch’s Quik Liquor on South 65 one night with a suitcase of Bud Light on his shoulder when he slipped on a ballpoint pen somebody had dropped in the parking lot, fell backwards and hit his head–hard–on the concrete.

“Life is the farce we are all forced to endure,” he had said groggily as we took the steps we had learned for our Boy Scouts First Aid merit badge, elevating his feet, covering him with a beach towel and not moving him until we were sure he was okay.  From that point on, Art had an ethereal quality about him.  I think he’d had a near-death experience, and he understood in a way that nobody else in our little circle of friends did that there is another, better world waiting for us after we pass through this vale of tears.

Art begins the invocation, his eyes downcast and his hands clasped together, “Only divine love bestows the keys of knowledge.”  He continues in this vein–humble and genuine–and his sentiments are echoed by a simple “Amen” by all present when he’s done.

Then, as you might expect with this gang, it’s business.  The president welcomes everybody, including some new members–Ted Fhlegm who’s opened up an auto parts store on east 50–and a few guests, such as the sons of some members who have skipped school to see a highlights film of the Kansas City Chiefs that is introduced by a guy from the front office who tries, without much success, to sell season tickets to a room full of guys who’d rather spend their Sunday afternoons snoring on the den couch.

It’s Art’s turn now, and he sits quietly as the president introduces him, saying we’ve all known him since he was a boy and a man and noting his growing reputation as an inspirational speaker.  The crowd applauds politely but warmly, Art says thanks for the kind words, and puts the crowd at ease from the get-go with some self-deprecatory humor.  “What am I doing here?” he asks, and the crowd laughs, thinking of him as a French version of Vice Admiral James Stockdale, H. Ross Perot’s running mate in his 1992 bid to become the first independent candidate to become President of the United States.


James “What am I doing here?” Stockdale

 

“I’ve just noticed that my mind is asleep,” he says, continuing in the vein of humility he’s struck, and the assembled burghers lean back in their seat, digesting their lunch of Salisbury steak, steamed carrots and mashed potatoes.  If Art had any after-dinner mints, the crowd would be eating them out of his hand.

“What a life!” Art begins, turning serious as he begins the tale of his transformation from dissolute poet to successful businessman.  “As I descended into impassable rivers I no longer felt guided by the ferrymen,” he says, recounting his bouts with writer’s block, depression, dry flaky skin and existential torment.  “Misfortune was my god.”

You could hear a toothpick drop, and when Clell Furnell, the local John Deere dealer fumbles his, a few heads turn to shush him.  “I shed more tears than God could ever have required,” Art says somberly.  I notice a glint of a moistness in more than one hard-nosed businessman’s eyes.

“I’m intact, and I don’t give a damn,” Art says by way of peroration.  “A thousand dreams within me softly burn.”  The room is hanging on his every word, and he leaves them with one final thought:  “The only unbearable thing–is that nothing is unbearable.  We know how to give our whole lives every day.”

With that, he is done, and there is a moment of calm before a thunderous storm of applause breaks out.

“That was great,” C.J. says to me as he pounds his beefy hands together.

“I know–isn’t he terrific?” Hiram adds.  “A hell of a lot better than that guy who gave that talk about long-term care insurance.”

“What’s amazing to me,” I say, leaning into the table so the others can hear me over the crowd’s adulation, “is that this is the same guy who wrote ‘Then you’ll feel your cheek scratched . . . a little kiss, like a crazy spider, will run round your neck.’”

The others look at me like I’m crazy.  Bob Dunn arches his left eyebrow skyward in skepticism, then pops the question that the others are probably asking themselves at the same time.  “Are you sure about that?” he asks dubiously.  “I thought that was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.”

 

All quotes after the “skedaddle” one guaranteed verbatim Rimbaud.  Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Dead Writers Make More Money.”

The Ferris Wheel

“There’s nothing lonelier than a ferris wheel at night from a ways off,” he said.“You aren’t at the fair, and you want to be.  You hear the girls screaming from the rides, and you figure everybody’s havin’ a good time, and you’re not.  You want to get goin’ before the carnival closes for the night, but you know by the time you get there it’ll all be over—all the fun will be gone.”


He said this as we were cleaning up his truck.  The last kid had come up for ice cream a good half hour ago, and we had shut down the grill before that.  We were right next to the fairgrounds, but we were separated from it by the RV lot—surrounded by vans and pick-up trucks with camper compartments in the bed and over the cab.

“I’ve been workin’ this truck for exactly fifteen years now,” he said.

“Did your dad used to do it?”

“Yep, till he got too old.  Me and Charlie would help out as soon as we were old enough.  The truck body plant shuts down the last two weeks of August, so it’s a chance to make a little extra money.”

I was waiting to see if my girlfriend would show up.  She and her friend Pam had gone over to the midway to walk around one last time.  I hoped they hadn’t met anybody.  Candy was like that—a flirt.  The reason I liked her was the reason every other guy did.

“Is your girlfriend gonna swing by here or do you want a ride home?”

“She said she’d come back.”

“Waiting for a woman—get used to it, kid.”

He laughed softly.  “You can’t live with ‘em, you can’t live without ‘em, but either way, you’ll spend a good part of your life just sitting around waiting for ‘em.”

I nodded to show I kinda knew what he meant.  He acted as if waiting was boring, but it wasn’t for me.  It made me nervous, because I never knew if Candy would come back with a bunch of other kids, which I didn’t want.  I wanted to be alone with her.

“I’ll stay here for awhile longer if you want.  Why don’t you go take a shower down at the latrine?  You’ll feel better, and she’ll appreciate it.”

“It’s too late already.  If she comes by while I’m down there, she’ll just go home without me.”

“Well, I’ll make her stay.”

“Thanks.  I’d rather not take the chance.”

I dragged the trash bags over to his car and threw them in the trunk.When I came back he had closed up and was sitting on the steps that the little kids stood on to reach the ice cream window.  I sat down next to him.

“I know what you’re going through,” he said as he tapped a cigarette on the pack and lit it.  “I can remember when I was in eighth grade, first time I held a girl’s hand at a dance I was about ready to explode, and I don’t mean from gas.”

I laughed at that.  He was a good guy to work for.  “Was that who you married?”

“No, that was just puppy love.  By the time I was a sophomore I thought I’d found the real thing—hell, I knew I’d found the real thing.  I was getting’ it, fer Christ sake.”

I didn’t understand him.“What did you get?”

He looked at me like I was crazy.  “Poontang, what do you think?”

“Oh, right,” I said as if I’d understood all along.

“She was hot.  She talked me into it.  I wanted true love.”

“And that’s your wife?”

“No, she was gone by the beginning of the next school year.  But you figure—if we lived in the old days we woulda gotten married, had kids—that woulda been it.  But her dad was in the Air Force and got transferred way the hell up to New York.”

“Oh.”

“They lived right over there,” he said as he pointed to a lot where there used to be a trailer park, just across the highway, with the utility poles and the gravel streets the only sign there had ever been anything there.

“The Air Force’d move people in and out on short notice, so at any one time there might be five or six trailers empty.  The kids who lived there—the Air Force brats—knew where each one was as soon as a family’d leave.  You could have parties in there and no one would ever know about it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.  They’d leave the beds behind, even the mattresses.It was government housing, all you owned was what you brought with you.  One time I told my mom I was staying over at a friend’s house and my girl and I spent the night in one of them empty trailers.”  He snorted a little laugh.  “We moved a stereo in there and listened to one album, over and over.  Then we fell asleep with our clothes on.We didn’t have sex that night.”

He was being so open with me, I asked him a question.  “Why not?”

“Neither one of us was ready for it.  We knew we weren’t.  Anyway, we were just lyin’ there when the sun came up, not wantin’ to face the day yet, getting our first exposure to the . . . uh . . . more everyday part of sleeping with someone, when one of the caretakers comes bustin’ through the door.”

“Holy cow—what did you do?”

“Nothin’.  When he said we had to leave, we left.  And he said don’t ever do it again.But we didn’t obey that part.”

“What did you do after that?”

“What came naturally.  We had gotten close that night, but the next time we went into the trailer park’s laundromat.  It closed up at eleven, but nobody checked on it.”

I tried to sound thoughtful, but I could barely contain myself.  I wanted to know how they did it.

“So what happened?”

“She picked me up from work with her girlfriend.  They had been working on a pint of rum.”

“Where’d they get it?”

“Floyd Williams, Sr., down at the ice plant.  They’d give him money and follow him over to the Sportsman’s Club.  He’d get them a bottle and keep the change.”

“I see.”

“Anyway, her girlfriend was in the front seat with her boyfriend, and she was all over me in the back seat. Everybody was pretty liquored up.”

“And you had a party in the laundromat?”

“Not a party. We turned out the lights and just drank for a while, pouring rum into cans of coke. Then her girlfriend left in the car and we were there alone. In the dark. Half drunk.”

“Uh huh.”

“One thing led to another.”

“Right.”

He was quiet for awhile, and took a drag on his cigarette.

“She was hot to trot, and . . . uh . . .mentally at least, I was not. “

“Why not?”

“Well, I’d just gotten offa workin’ eight hours in a barbecue restaurant and I smelled like a slab of ribs and was about as greasy.”

“What did you do?”

“Buddy, sometimes your body will do things your mind doesn’t want to.”

I was quiet for a moment.  “So that was your first time?”

“Sort of.  Since she’d been drinking, and I’d just got off work, neither one of us thought to bring a rubber.”

I was getting confused.  “So you didn’t do it?”

“No, we did.  Somehow with all the moanin’ and groanin’ we agreed I’d pull out.”

“Oh.”

“Which, when you’re sixteen and have never done it before isn’t as easy as it sounds.”

“Oh.”  I waited for him to start talking again, and when he didn’t I asked “So what happened?”

He dropped his cigarette in the dirt, and stepped on it.  “I pulled out, but I was scared shitless.  I figured she was pregnant for sure, and I got all upset.  I took off my undershirt and wanted her to, you know, like do something with it to catch the sperm.”  He snorted.“What the hell did I know—my biology teacher was a taxidermist.”

We both laughed.

“Then I walked her to her trailer and kissed her goodnight.  And we hugged each other and were both cryin’.  A hell of a way to lose your virginity, isn’t it.”

“I guess.”

We looked up towards the carnival when we heard a boom.  The fireworks had started, and we saw the first one explode high over the grandstand.  That meant that the fairgrounds would be closing up soon.

“Then I just started running,” he began.  “I ran across the highway, and into this field here.  It was a good mile and a half to my house, but if I cut through the fairgrounds I could shave a half mile offa that.  And as I was runnin’ through this field I threw the undershirt away.  Then I climbed over the gate at the fairgrounds and kept on running ‘til I got to the fence behind my house. And I crawled under and walked into the house like it was just another night.”

“Did your parents see you?”

“Yeah, my mom came downstairs.  My heart was pounding from running, and ‘cause I was upset, but I acted like it was just another night after work, we just had to stay later because—I don’t know, I made something up, dishwasher broke.  Have to say, I shoulda won an Oscar for my cool, calm performance.”

We sat there in silence.  There was one last question I was bustin’ to ask him, but couldn’t right away.  Then it just came out, the way sometimes you just jump in the water after standing there cold and scared.  “Did—did the undershirt thing work?”

He broke out laughing hard now.  “That’s a good one.I’m sure it didn’t, but she didn’t get pregnant.  I’ll tell you though, if you ever want to see time move in slow motion, that’s the way to do it.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re waiting to find out if your girl’s pregnant, and she’s countin’ the days, and tellin’ you how late she is.  You know what I’m talking about, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.“Sorta.”

“If she gets her period, she’s not pregnant.  If she doesn’t, she is.  So you’re waiting—“

He looked at me like a math teacher, expecting me to sum things up in my head.

“For her to get her period,” I said after a few seconds.

“That’s right.  She did, nothing happened, she moved away, and I moved on.”

I stared straight ahead, listening to the katydids.  After awhile I heard some voices talking low, approaching us.  It was Pam and Candy, done with the carnival for the night.

“Is this your girlfriend?” he asked.

“Yep.”

“Which one?”

“The one with the brown hair.”  I wanted to sound as if I’d been around, and was as experienced as he’d been at my age.“  I dated Pam—she’s the blonde—for awhile but decided I liked Candy better.”

“Man about town, huh?”

“You missed a great band,” Candy said as they walked up.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.  The Lavender Hill Mob.”

“I’ve heard of ‘em.”

“I’m Billy’s girlfriend Candy, and this is my friend Pam,” she said to Roy as she stuck her hand out.

“Nice to meet you both,” Roy said.  I could tell he liked Candy right away.  “I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said, looking at Candy.

“Did lover boy kiss and tell?” Pam asked with a smart aleck tone.  That was one of the reasons I broke up with her.

“Nope, just a man-to-man, heart-to-heart talk.”

“I thought men didn’t have those kind of talks,” Candy said.

“We do, when we run out of things to say about football,” Roy said.

“We’ve got to get home,” Pam said.  She wasn’t getting anything out of this.

“We’re closed and Billy’s done,” Roy said.  “He’s all yours.”

“Well, it was nice to meet you,” Candy said.  “I hope you survive the fair.”

“I hope I do too,” Roy said.  “Nice to meet you, Pam.”

“Same here,” she said.  She couldn’t care less.

We started to walk towards the highway and I turned around to say goodbye to Roy, and saw him looking at me.

“Take care of that girl, okay?” he said.

“I will.”

Top Vet: Couch-Humping Poodles Threaten Nation’s Furniture

WASHINGTON, D.C.  The U.S. Veterinarian General, the nation’s highest-ranking physician for animals, expressed concern today that sexually-frustrated poodles are putting the nation’s couches and reclining chairs at risk with aggressive humping that he said “destroys the very fabric of our nation, or at least the fabric on the legs of furniture.”


Edward Kessler, U.S. Veterinarian General:  “Frankly, they’re frustrated.”

 

“We are seeing a dramatic uptick in couch-humping by poodles in upper-middle class homes where the female of the household will not allow males to mate,” said Edward Kessler, a career public health official who testified before the Subcommittee on Domestic Animals and Household Furniture, which is under the aegis of the Senate Committee on Subjects That None of the Big-Deal Committees Want.


“I’m tired of doing tricks–I need a woman.”

 

French poodles were enormously popular during the 50′s and 60′s, inspiring the “poodle-skirt” craze.  Today the dogs satisfy unfulfilled feminine desires to dress up dolls or small children who have grown, and the resulting “feminization” of male poodles has been found to produce canine frustration as the dogs are kept indoors or chastened by cries of “bad dog” when they seek sexual satisfaction.


Poodle-skirt:  Cool!

 

Couch-humping is considered acceptable behavior in Europe, where both men and women expose more skin to view than is customary in the U.S.  “It is reely only in the puritancial US that un chien may not freely display his affection pour un divan,” notes Jacques Trintignant, French Minister of Anti-Americanism.  “In France, to love is to live.”

The U.S. Surgeon General, the public official responsible for human health, rarely ventures into questions of sexuality, although Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who held office during the first Clinton administration, created an uproar when she said that masturbation should be taught to young people in school in order to reduce venereal disease.  “I am shocked that she would say that,” said James Corrigan, head of the Family First Foundation at the time.  “Kids should learn that kind of thing at home, the way they traditionally have.”


“No, Francois–that is what the Barcalounger is for!”

 

Couch-humping by poodles is uncommon among the lower classes, who view the dogs as effete, and also rare among wealthy families, who favor less neurotic breeds such as labrador and golden retrievers.  “There’s an old joke among dog breeders and wedding planners,” says kennel owner Marcia Lansdowne.  “How do you spot the bride at a WASP wedding?  She’s the one kissing the golden retriever.”

End of Summer Markdowns Trigger Preppy Doofus Stampede

NANTUCKET, Mass.  A blue-ribbon panel appointed to investigate a late August stampede on this tony vacation island has concluded that drastic end-of-summer markdowns on madras shorts, whale-motif ties and other “preppy” clothing triggered a crush of cheap WASP shoppers that left several people injured, one seriously.


Don’t go shopping without a tasteful shopping bag!

 

“It was a sales clerk’s worst nightmare,” said Endicott Wollaston, a retired Selectmen who chaired the committee.  “Hordes of trust fund beneficiaries rushing towards the sale table, with nothing to stop them but a maxxed-out credit card.”

 


“Funny, I bought a similar outfit.”

 

WASPs, or white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, are an American ethnographic group that prefers expensive-looking clothing, but refuses to pay full price.  “I’d say they throw nickels around like they’re manhole covers,” says Willard Normandin, a long-time employee at Brooks Brothers in Boston, “but that applies more properly to pennies.”

prep
Preppin’ out for steppin’ out!

 

The market disruption was the result of a chilly summer, the coldest on record in the U.S., which kept vacationers off the island, according to retail industry experts.  “You had a build-up of unsold inventory, and a bunch of cheapskate buyers waiting until the last minute to save the most money,” noted Women’s Wear Daily New England regional editor Cynthia Smithson.  “We’re just fortunate that there were no endangered species standing in front of the madras Bermuda shorts.”

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