My Bunny Hop Years

They were, in retrospect, a Periclean Golden Age; a time of innocence, but a time of experience as well.  Like the Jazz Age, they burned brightly for only a brief time, but their embers continue to smolder latterly on the so-called “World Wide Web”–six decades later!


Bunny Hop, transmogrified as The Penguin Dance

I speak, of course, about The Bunny Hop; that Latin-influenced visitor that appeared upon the scene shortly after I was born, and swept the country club and grade school dances of my youth.

You, who live in the “go-go” 21st century, where everything is permitted and nothing is forbidden, cannot know the thrill that shook through a nine-year-old-boy’s body when he ever so delicately placed them on the hips of Caroline Spretka.


The true, the ORIGINAL Bunny Hop–danced by swinging guys ‘n gals.

 

Where before, you had been limited to box-stepping with her around a gymnasium, or–if you were a particularly good dancer–pairing off with her as part of a talent-show polka troupe that performed on stage–now you got the real thing, the primal view that the male bunny sees when he fulfills his primordial urge to you-know-what-like-a-bunny–am I out of my ration of hyphens yet?


World’s longest Bunny Hop line?

No, The Bunny Hop represented that riot-like atmosphere–in cuddly guise–described by Claude Levi-Strauss in his seminal essay that I have forgotten the name of it’s so important.  Anyway, he says the feast (la fete) is a time for the breakdown of social norms, such as The Fox Trot that our parents sought so grimly to impose on us.  Yes, yes–I know it’s original name was “The Bunny Hug,” but by the time I came on the scene, 1951, a year before the invention (discovery?) of The Bunny Hop, The Fox Trot was old hat, leftover casserole.

It was a race against time: The Twist was looming on the horizon, a brooding future of no-contact dancing.  We were a doomed generation, like The Beatniks; aware that with the single flick of a switch in Moscow or the release of a single by Chubby Checker, our idyllic youth would be gone.  And so we danced into the night, since the morrow might never come!

Some (I don’t know who) would say The Bunny Hop was the beginning of it all, the whole “youth rebellion” movement that would culminate in “White Rabbit” by The Jefferson Airplane, the first psychedelic bunny in American cultural history.  Perhaps–I do not profess to know.


“So I’m tripping and all of a sudden I see this fucking HUGE white rabbit, and . . .”

 

I do know that when The Bunny Hop was announced at youth dances, the cynical boys who had snuck outside for smokes and the introverted girls who had turned their Barbie Dream Houses into Little Virginia Woolf “Rooms of Their Own” would suddenly rush to the dance floor, wallflowers no more, ready to participate in the communal rite that went back to the ancient Greeks.  It was, after all, Euripedes who wrote “Blessed are those who give themselves up to the dance.”  (Bacchae, line 74, R. Robertson, trans.)  I’m pretty sure he was thinking about The Bunny Hop–κουνέλι πηδώ–for those of you keeping score at home.  In Attic Greek.

Some say the 19th century Finnish dance jenkka is the mother of The Bunny Hop, but I say–so what?  When you’ve sweated through the one white shirt you own–probably left over from your First Holy Communion–and you want to get it on bunny-style, there are usually no 19th century Fins around to help you.

All I know for sure is that, when you’ve had three cherry Cokes, and the mother who’s stuck being chaperone calls for lapin sautee, and Stella Siragusa grabs you by the hand and pulls you out on the dance floor and you begin to tap twice to the right, twice to the left, then hop forward, backward, then three times forward–the madness of the dance is upon you.

Life Insurance Industry Courts Young With Songwriting Contest

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois.  The American Life Underwriters Association, a trade group that represents the interests of life insurance companies nationwide, finds itself in an unusual position today: instead of lobbying Congress to maintain their members’ exemption from federal regulation, three representatives of the group in white shirts and grey suits are seated at a dais more suited to “The Voice” or “American Idol,” pencils in hand.


“Let me tell you, there’s nothing like cash surrender value . . .”

 

“The life insurance industry faces a crisis,” says Executive Director Miles Anrud.  “People buy life insurance when they have kids, and with couples putting off marriage and starting a family to spend money on stupid stuff like tattoos and . . .”

He is interrupted mid-sentence by Steve Segal, from the public relations firm of Highland/Nelson, which came up with innovative idea of a singer-songwriter contest to appeal to potential buyers of term and whole life insurance policies. “What Miles meant to say is that we offer a product that must compete with a myriad of other consumer choices, and we recognize that we must make it attractive to a younger demographic.”

And so three finalists will sing their tributes to life insurance and its wonders as they vie for a $100,000 prize that enticed thousand of young musicians to craft original pop tunes with death benefit themes.


“The clause that really thrills me, is the one about non-con-test-a-bility . . .”

 

First up is Ty DiMasio of Revere, Massachusetts, a folk-style singer who strikes a sensitive note as he launches into “I’m Really Doing This for You,” his ode to the ephemeral nature of the benefits of a policy to the person whose life is insured.

I love you so much, baby, he begins,
I mean that, I don’t mean maybe,
Whole life is really expensive,
I don’t think I need to tell you,
The coverage is no more extensive,
but it has cash surrender value.



“I got the policy, and now I’ve got a cough.  Please girl please, don’t bump me off.”

 

“That was really nice,” says Clint Cain, owner of a one-man agency in Keokuk, Iowa.  “I guess I’d like to hear you put a little more emotion into the part about the value that whole life brings to a growing family, but thanks.”

DiMasio accepts the criticism gracefully and exits, stage right, to be replaced by Melinda Urquhart, a willowy blonde from Butte, Montana who introduces herself by noting that she “literally grew up in the life insurance business, playing in my dad’s office with death notices and claim denials.”  That little touch seems to warm the chilly hearts of the three judges, who smile as Urquhart launches into “I Cancelled Your Policy Today.”

Don’t know what I was thinkin’, she sings with her eyes closed,
Almost sent you a check today.
When I checked your file I found
There was a premium installment you “forgot” to pay.

“Just beautiful,” says Orel Newcomb of Chillicothe, Ohio, who sells both property and casualty and life insurance while maintaining an active notary public practice on the side.  “Sentiment is fine and dandy, and many people are genuinely sad when a loved one dies, but life insurance is a business.”


“Think about your loved ones, sure, but think about your insurance agent and all he has to endure.”

 

Last up is a young man who, like purple-clad rock star Prince, dresses in just one color–black–and uses only one name, “Mort,” which he discovered in his high school French class means “death.”  His approach is decidedly different from the other contestants, as he launches into a full-bore assault on term life policies, which provide a death benefit with no investment component:

Just think what death is gonna do to you,
You’ll be dead when it gets through with you.
If you bought term life you think you got off cheap,
but you can’t spend that money when you’re six-feet deep.

“Now that’s what I like to hear,” says Duane Thomas, Jr., who inherited his agency in Stillmore, Oklahoma from his father.  “A lot of people try to go cheap with term policies, but they’re only thinking of themselves, not us.”

The three judges confer among themselves and, after a few minutes of intense consideration, announce that “Mort” is the winner of the $100,000 first prize.


“So–I have to die to get the money?”

 

“Cool,” he says with enthusiasm.  “Where’s my check?”

The three judges give each other perplexed looks.  “It’s not a cash prize,” Thomas says.  “It’s a hundred thousand dollar whole life policy with the first year’s premium paid up.  After that, you’re on your own.”

Love Among the Sporks

In Clinton, Mass., there’s a factory,
straight outta the Industrial Revolution.
It cranks out product merrily
while it spews foul air pollution.

It was there while walking the streets one night
I spotted a wan factory girl;
her skin bleached white from lack of light,
her face the saddest in the world.

I couldn’t be a witness to such tragedy
without letting my heart have its say;
I stopped her right in front of me
and asked “Are you okay?”

She sniffled a bit, then began to cry,
I felt like a helpless dork;
The tears began to fall from her eyes,
and she told me about the spork.

“I work all day from dawn to dark
on a fiendish dining tool;
it’s not a spoon, it’s not a fork,
and the bosses are so cruel!”

I asked what kind of instrument
might this strange object be?
Was it a bowl-like implement?
or did it have tines of three?

She said “It’s neither fowl nor fish,
it’s betwixt and it’s between;
it cuts by a third the silver on your dish,
it’s something you’ve never seen.”

And then she reached into her purse
and from it drew a sight,
that shocked my eyes from bad to worse
on that dark starry night;

It was—a spork! A hybrid thing
that you could use to eat with;
It would pick up soup or anything–
It’d work to chow down beets with.

My joy worked wonders on her mood,
she brightened up a bit.
I guess she saw what it meant for food
and how people struggled to eat it.

“So you don’t think it’s the work of the devil,
This cross-bred thing of plastic?”
“Why no,” I said, and I was totally on the level.
“Au contraire, it’s a godsend, it’s fantastic!”

And so she linked her arm in mine,
we’ve been together since that day;
we went and bought a bottle of wine
and sporked the night away.

Moral: If you love what you do it’s not work.

The River Where His Lover Lies

The river where his lover lies
is not too wide from bank to bank.
The water eddies here and there
as it flows down into the sea.

The ferry carries cars across
from Chester on one shore to Lyme.
The surface of the water’s calm,
there’s not a lot they have to say.

He took the boat so they could see
the swans that swim along in pairs.
They mate for life, he’d said; the plank
was lowered, so were her eyes.

Something was amiss that day,
some inner peace, some needed balm.
He calculated there was time
to stem the tide, avert the loss.

The water made her paleness stark
against her hair, as she sank down;
and now he has to damn or thank
the river where his lover lies.

 

The Laziest Bee in the Hive

          But the life of a bee is better than you’d guess.  Despite the name, worker bees spend two-thirds of their time doing nothing.

Honey Trap, Temma Ehrenfeld, The Weekly Standard


“Move over, would ya–I was goofin’ off here first.”

 

I’ve been a worker bee for now, let’s see, it was three weeks ago I first punched a time clock here.  That means in bee years I’m about three-quarters of the way to the grave, time to start takin’ it easy.

Or perhaps I should say easy-er.  I mean, despite our reputation for bein’ hard–workin’ bitches–buzzin’ here, buzzin’ there, buzzin’ buzzin’ everywhere–life in the hive ain’t been so bad, thanks to International Honey Makers Local #352 outta Revere, Mass.  Lemme tell ya, dat business agent of ours sure earns her keep.  There’s an old saying: Why does a worker bee stare outta the hive all morning?  Answer?  So she can stare up at the ceiling all afternoon for a little variety.

bee

Me, I got my own patented work-avoidance techniques down pat.  First thing you gotta know is–always look busy.  It don’t matter that you’re not actually doin’ anything.  They put up “motivational” posters a few years ago that said “Don’t confuse effort with results.”  Not a problem for me, I says to myself.  I’ll cut out all effort, and you won’t see any results–just so there’s no confusion.  Some motivation.

No, what I do is keep moving at all times.  Like I’ll blow past the queen and she’ll say “Where you goin’?” and I say “To the supply room to get a sky hook, a left-handed monkey wrench and a solar-powered night light.”  That always shuts her up.  She don’t know nothin’ about tools.


A good place to take a nap.

 

I find the honeycomb is a good place to hide when I need to catch forty winks after a big lunch with maybe, I don’t know, a libation or two thrown in for good measure.  It’s not like I’m runnin’ a nuclear power plant or nothin’.  You just back it up inta one of those little cells and you’re good to go.  Hey, I’m the senior gal on the crew–I’m entitled!

No, I leave it to the younger ones, all that foragin’ for food, then comin’ back to the hive grasping another worker and vibrating.  Sheesh, it’s pollen fer Christ sake!  Don’t get your panty hose in an uproar.

I can remember when I was like them.  I musta been, I dunno–five, maybe ten days old at the most.  One of the gals would come back to the hive, all excited, and launch into the “figure eight waggle dance,” running forward, circling back, showing how far away the food was.  I didn’t take nobody’s say so, though.  I’d squeak at ‘em–give me some details, would ya!  Then they’d give me a sample and if it was good, I was in.  If not–hey, you can actually buy honey in the freaking store, ya know.

No, the only part I miss is the office romance–dipping your pen in the company ink, getting your meat where you get your bread and so forth.

I remember Delores in accounts receivable.  Jeez, she’d come back from a field of clover looking like Jayne Mansfield.  I’d stroke her antennae, then we’d lick each other’s tongues, French style.  Was it Frederic Bastiat who came up with the metaphor of the beehive?  Well, he missed the Sapphic dimension–what do classical liberal economists know anyway?

Anyway, I gotta go, here comes the queen.  You know the signs that say, Jesus is coming–look busy?  We got one here:

The difference between work and break is . . . uh, I forget the rest.

Dream Date With Merkel Tops Eurozone Silent Auction

NEWPORT, Wales.  Mired in the worst depression since the 1930s, leaders of the 17 countries that make up the so-called “Eurozone” will hold a festive gala tonight that includes a “dream date” with German chancellor Angela Merkel as one of the items up for bid at a “silent auction.”


“He just pinched me–does he have diplomatic immunity or can I slap him?”

 

“We expect it to be the big-ticket item,” said Eurozone social director Helmut Klimt.  “She has everything high-rolling American hedge fund-types crave in a woman; that suburban hausfrau haircut, an unerring sense of fashion, and a really tight fiscal policy.”

“Silent auctions” are conducted by mimes. They are frequently used by charities to allow donors to get rid of worthless crap that clutters up their attics and basements.  A “live” auction is conducted by a licensed graduate of an auctioneering school or a country and western singer performing the Leroy Van Dyke hit “The Auctioneer.”

Other popular items in the auction include a year’s supply of Brussel sprouts courtesy of Belgian Maiden Produce, and a group picture with French President Francois Hollande and 25 of his 43 mistresses.

 


“Francois Hollande will pinch your butt for 300 euros?”

 

Merkel is regularly ranked among the most desired world leaders in polls of individuals on the Lane Bryant plus size women’s fashion catalog mailing list. “She has very broad appeal,” notes Schmit, “from both front and rear views.”


“Sorry–our Skee-Ball machine doesn’t take Euros!”

 

The eurozone is facing imminent collapse as other, more stable currencies such as Chuck E Cheese tokens have found favor with investors. “I’ve got nothing against euros,” said Chuck Bednarsik, a currency trader in Chicago. “It’s just that cents-off coupons on Bounty paper towels have a bigger upside right now.”

Merkel reportedly agreed to participate in the affair with good humor, telling an Irish central banker her favorite joke: “A Greek, an Italian and a Spaniard walk into a bar and drink all night–who pays?” she asked.

The banker thought for a moment and then said “I don’t know.”

“A German.”

Mimi Really Cares!

          Whenever I watch TV and see those poor, starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry.  I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff!

                                                                                  Mariah Carey

 

mariah2
“And evewybody should have a widdle wambikin to hug, too!”

 

As Mariah Carey and I made our way down The Bowery, we walked through a veritable boulevard of broken dreams; men sleeping on heating grates and cardboard appliances boxes, wrapped in discarded (or stolen) moving blankets, or covered in plastic sheeting.  I was struck by how ineffectual the efforts of government, private charities and even individual acts of human kindness were to right the course of a man gone wrong.  Who knew what torments afflicted the minds and hearts of the desolate souls we stepped over on our way to The Men’s Center on Avenue D?

We both realized that if we were to succeed, our efforts had to have scale; that if you gave a handout to one of the human shells we met on our way to the shelter he would likely spend it on drink or drugs.  No, we had resolved that we would give to a responsible non-profit, one that would put our contributions to good use, providing meals and a warm place to sleep at night to those who ended up–by bad luck or failure of character or from whatever cause–living on the street.

But you know Mimi–she’s got a heart as big as a platinum selling album.  As we turned the corner on 14th Street she spied one particularly pathetic exhibit of the frailty of human nature; he was lying in the middle of the sidewalk, apparently unable to make it to a stoop or vestibule in his drunken stupor, and thus couldn’t avoid the foot traffic that wound around him.  He was right in front of us, but too far gone to care.

But that didn’t stop Mimi, no sir.  “Hold it,” she said as she stopped me short.  “I have to do something for this man.”

She leaned over, tapped him gently on one arm flung over his eyes, and tried to rouse him to consciousness.  “Excuse me?” she said in the voice that has sold more records than any other in recorded history!

The man flinched at first, expecting to be “rolled” as had happened to him so many times before by drunken frat boys out for kicks, but when he saw Mimi’s angelic face, his craggy visage, so roughened by the streets it looked like a picture of a desert, brightened.

“Are you . . .” he began hesitantly.

Mimi shrank back; she doesn’t like to publicize her philanthropic efforts, even though she’s pilloried in the press for being insensitive to the plight of the less fortunate.

“Yes,” she said quietly, then put a finger to her lips.  “Shh,” she shushed.  “I didn’t mean to disturb you.  I just have something very important to tell you.”

The homeless man quickly became dismissive.  “G’wan with ya,” he said, waving a frail and spindly arm at the buxom chanteuse.  “I don’t need no temperance lecture.”

I could tell Mimi was taken aback; here she’d torn herself away from preparations for The Elusive Chanteuse Asian Tour to help the guy, and he rebuffs her as if she’s some fugly Salvation Army do-gooder.  I saw her inhale, as if to calm herself; don’t blame the victim I could see her say inside her head, since I’m the omniscient narrator of this post.

“It’s not about liquor or drugs at all!” she said in that little-girl-lost voice that I love so much.

“Then what is it?” the Gabby Hayes look-alike demanded.

“If you would just moisturize every night before going to bed, you wouldn’t have those wrinkles around your eyes and at the corners of your mouth.”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
The Esquire Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,490 other followers