Solve Your Plastic Food Container Problems the Internet Way

In 1969, the first message was successfully sent over the ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet. Four and a half decades later, the internet has developed into one of the greatest advances in human history, freeing up human capital wasted on actual labor and diverting it to fantasy football leagues and cat videos.

Before the internet came into our lives, U.S. husbands and wives would often quarrel, holding back American scientific progress that allowed the Russians to launch space satellites before us. Here is actual, post-dinner dialogue captured on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in 1954:

WIFE: Put away the Franco-American spaghetti leftovers, would you sweetie?

HUSBAND: Sure, hon. Let me just get a convenient plastic food storage container out of the pantry here.

WIFE: Don’t forget the lid!

HUSBAND: You and your joshing!

[SOUND OF CRASH]

HUSBAND: Dad blast it! Why are our food storage containers and lids always in such an uproar!

WIFE: I wish somebody would hurry up and invent the internet!


Utter chaos

The internet allows scientists and intellectuals to share news of developments without having to attend boring conferences with cash bars and listen to white papers with titles like Threat or Menace: Is America’s Love Affair With Plastic Food Storage Receptacles Endangering Our Standard of Living? With the internet at their fingertips, food storage scientists can now log onto http://www.wikihow.com/, search the index for “How to Organize Empty Food Storage Containers and Lids”, and enter a magical world where ideas are exchanged freely and openly, as if by telepathy, generating new and exciting concepts in food-storage-container-and-lid-technology twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.


Much better!

An eleven-member team of food storage receptacle scientists and engineers, generously donating their apparently ample time, has posted a ten-point food storage container organization protocol at this “wiki” website. “Wiki” refers to software that allows multiple users to collaboratively create, edit, link and organize content on a website. The term “wiki” is a reduplication of the Hawaiian word for “goof off.”

While users are cautioned that the protocol has not yet been peer-reviewed by independent specialists in the field, it appears to represent a breakthrough in container-organization comparable to the realization during the Italian Renaissance that it is easier to fit small containers inside large ones than vice versa, a discovery that helped bring the Dark Ages to an end.

That historical breakthrough forms part of the canon of modern plastic food container thought, and appears as principle no. 6 in the new world-wide web protocol on food storage container organization, as follows:

6. Nest and stack. For the containers, nest them in stacks that are as tall as your space. Start with the largest on the bottom and work upwards to the smallest.

Note the citation of an important ancillary principle of food storage container organization: stacks should only be as tall as the space you have to put them in. If you stack them any higher, you risk breaking through the ceiling into an upstairs bathroom!

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of trenchant, insightful, hard-hitting plastic container news I’m looking for when I log on to the internet in the office every morning.

Right after I watch a few cat videos.

Mort Spiksa, “Poet of Terms and Conditions,” Dead at 78

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.  Morton “Mort” Spiksa, a lawyer who came to be known as the “Poet of Terms and Conditions,” died last night after a brief illness at Gino Cappelletti Memorial Hospital.  He was seventy-eight.

“Mort really had a way with words,” said Norton Oswald, a retired plant manager at the General Motors assembly plant here before it closed.  “Our vendors didn’t mind that we were the big guy who could crush them like a bug just to watch the juice ran out when they read his lyrical ‘T&C’s’.”

lawyer
Mort Spiksa, about to exclude the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

 

Spiksa had hoped to become a poet as an undergraduate but decided to study law after his father was diagnosed with terminal Osgood Schlatter’s Disease.  “He realized he’d have to take care of mom,” said his sister Evelyn Spiksa Ryan.  “I could barely support myself as a left-handed stenographer cruelly forced to work in a right-handed desk.”

In law school Spiksa was a slightly-above-average student who nonetheless demonstrated a perverse passion for commercial law, one of the less lucrative and more boring areas of the profession.  “It appealed to his poetic side,” said Professor Galston Willier.  “Nobody reads poetry, and nobody reads those terms and conditions in four-point type on commercial forms.”

desk
Awkward!

 

Spicksa became living proof of Clarence Darrow’s belief that “inside every lawyer is the wreck of a poet,” but he nonetheless struggled to forge an aesthetic identity apart from the mundane prose he wrote for purchase orders and invoices, such as his oft-repeated quatrain celebrating a number of common shipping terms that he surreptitiously slipped into a bill of lading:

F.O.B., C.I.F.,
Take away one and what is left?
C&F, F.A.S.,
One is more, the other less.

“There’s a simple sense of mystery to Mort’s verses, like William Blake’s,” says Newton Adair, III, Professor of Commercial Poetry at the University of Southern Iowa.  “He could take a homely warehouse receipt and turn it into a thing of beauty–in triplicate, with white, pink and canary-colored copies.

 

loading dock
“Behold the lonely loading dock, where we made off with Pots of Crock.”

His specialty was the so-called “Battle of the Forms,” when terms in documents presented by different parties conflicted and the parties’ agreement had to be determined by statutory rules of construction.  In a case involving the rejection of a defective shipment of flanges and hasps, Spiksa’s poetry reached perhaps the apogee of his style, at once perfervid and peremptory:

These flanges and hasps,
are so defective it’s barely
worth shipping them back.
They make me gasp,
I mean that squarely,
I’m giving the whole lot the sack.

He is survived by his wife Ethel; a son, Mort Jr. of Mundelein, Illinois; a daughter, Traci of Hamtramck, Michigan; and his pet fork lift, Chucho.  In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Business Forms, Systems & Labels Hall of Fame.

Barbie at the Double Nickel

2014 is Barbie’s 55th anniversary–news item.

I looked out the window of my Dream House and allowed myself a teensy-tiny moment of reflection. How far I’d come in fifty-five years! It seemed like only yesterday I was born, fully-developed, in a secret test lab deep within the bowels of the Mattel Toy Company.

Here I am at 55–the “double nickel” in baby boomer parlance–and not a single stretch mark, even though I seem to have a daughter, Skipper, by Ken, my “on again-off again” boyfriend as my Press Site notes. On again-off again, my bony ass. He’s a shiftless, no-count loser. But I don’t like to dwell on the negative.

Some people criticize me for having a perfect, unattainable body that creates unrealistic expectations in young girls, causing them to turn up their noses at mom’s American Chop Suey and Stuffing Puppies. Well, which would you rather have–a durable, dishwasher-safe hard-plastic torso like mine, or a body that could be “attained” by every Buzz Lightyear and GI Joe on the shelf? To ask the question, as they say, is to answer it. Besides, American Chop Suey sucks.

I just wish I could spend more time with Skipper, but I seem to have shipped her off to boarding school, like some cruel parent in a W. Somerset Maugham novel.


Maugham: “May I have a turn with Barbie–please?”

 

You know, long before everyone got so “hip” to being “post-racial” and including black sidekicks in gangs of guys eating at Chili’s in TV commercials, I had an African-American friend–”Christie.” The Federal Trade Commission did an investigation after someone sent in an anonymous tip that no self-respecting black woman would ever allow herself to be called “Christie.” Because of Mattel quality control, we passed with flying persons of color!

But I’m not just racially tolerant, I’m omni-tolerant! I had a friend in a wheelchair–Becky–long before you did. I had another friend with a crippling beauty handicap–glasses! Don’t believe me? Again, it’s right there on the World Wide Web, writ large so those who surf may read.

Maybe I’ll have a big family reunion for my 55th. My brother Todd and my sisters Skipper, Tutti, Stacie, Kelly and Krissy. My “gal pals” Teresa, Kira, Kayla, Becky and Christie.  My BFF Midge and her husband Alan.  I wonder what ever happened to Alan? I don’t remember hearing about a divorce or a death or anything.  If anything ever happens between me and Ken, it’s on the front page of the National Enquirer before you can say “Holly Hobby.”

With Ken and me it’s always a “headline-generating breakup”–no thanks to the Mattel public relations department. What I wouldn’t give for Midge’s quiet life with Alan! I don’t want to end up alone in some Barbie Dream Nursing Home, with flabby bingo-arms, doddering around reliving my outfits of the past; Stewardess Barbie, Nurse Barbie, Executive Barbie, Rapper Barbie, Streetwalker Barbie.

No, all I want is . . . hey, that’s Midge down there now–with Ken! Why that f**king skank! Hey you! Yeah you, you red-headed bitch! Get your hands off my arm-candy! He may drive around all day in my dream car, and shack-up in my dream house, and never go out and get a job so he could have cool outfits like me–but he’s all I’ve got!

At the Vatican-UFO Summit

In a departure from its traditional position that the earth is the only inhabited planet, the Vatican has consulted experts on the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

The Boston Herald

 

Even though I’ve been instructed never to disturb the Pope when he’s watching “Star Trek” reruns, the alien in the reception area was getting impatient. I’d kept him at bay by giving him free espresso and biscotti, but after a while he ate a potted plant, then the receptionist. I had to do something.


“If we hit warp speed, we can still make the 11:30 Mass.”

 

“Excuse me–Your Holiness?” I said meekly after cracking the door to the papal den. “There’s someone here to see you.”

“Who is it?” the Pope asked, pausing only to mute the volume.

“The fellow from the THX 1138 spiral galaxy you invited in to discuss the possibility of extraterresterial life.”

“What’s his name?”


“Go in peace, and may Glzorp bless you.”

 

I handed the Pope a piece of paper on which the alien had scrawled his name.

“Glx13*//:37aH2″? the Pope asked haltingly.

“He puts the accent on the asterisk,” I said.

“Okay–show him in. I’ve got this episode on my 7-DVD boxed set.”

I went out to the reception area. “The Pope will see you now,” I said.

“About frzeleepkink time!” the alien replied. He’d been reading a copy of US Weekly that the receptionist . . . uh, left behind.


Lady Gaga: It could happen here.

 

“That Lady Gaga is one hot glizzkt34i, isn’t she?” he said.

“I suppose you could say that,” I said. I tried, as best I could, to maintain a proper professional reserve. We get a lot of kooks at the Vatican–people asking for miracle cures, autograph hounds, youth hockey coaches looking for relief from Pope John Paul II’s “Pray Don’t Play on Sunday” Encyclical a few years back.

“Your Holiness?” I asked tentatively, hoping he’d take my cue and relieve me of the pressure of pronouncing the alien’s name.

“Hi–Pope Francis I here,” the Pontiff said, trying to make the alien comfortable by using a numeral, even though as the first Francis he technically doesn’t have to.


“I just flew in from Alpha Centauri, and boy are my arms tired!”

 

“Pope, Glx13*//:37aH2 here–nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, Glx13*//:3 . . .”

“Please–call me ‘Glx’. Everybody else does.”

“Okay, Glx–sit down, sit down. Can I get you anything?”

“No, I’m all set. I had something called a ‘Courtney’ out there on the buffet.”


Alien receptionist: She has to leave early to meet friends at the T.G.I. Friday’s on Venus.

 

The Pope looked at me in horror. “Who’s covering for her?” he asked.

“I’ll take care of it,” I said.

“Because I need someone to validate Glx’s parking.”

“I know where she keeps the stamp.”

With that I excused myself from the two intergalactic leaders, but I left the door ajar in order to bear witness to their historic meeting.

“So, tell me a little about yourself, Glx,” the Pope said.


Giordano Bruno, early sci-fi fan

 

“Well, just as your Giordano Bruno predicted,” the alien began, “there are forms of life in the universe other than you self-centered, egotistical humans.”

The Pope got a far-away look in his eye. “My bad,” he said, “or rather our bad. Really too bad for Bruno, though.”

“Yeah. Being burned at the stake has got to be tough.”

“It’s not really a stake–it’s more like a Weber Grill.”

“So patented Weber technology means meats stay moist and juicy?”

“On the nosy,” the Pope said. The guy loved his grilled bratwurst. “So anyway, what is it with you space aliens?”

“What do you mean?” Glx asked. “And by the way,” he continued before the Pope had a chance to answer him, “we think you’re the aliens.”

“Everybody’s multi-culti these days,” the Pope said with a sigh. “What I mean is, you swoop down out of the skies, abduct productive, tithe-paying parishioners, and just drop them off when you’re done with them, their bodily orifices singed and their memories zapped so they have no recollection of where they’ve been.”

“We,” Glx began, then hesitated. “We find it hard to talk . . . to women.”

“Well, Christ almighty–I do too, but you don’t see me abducting them!”

“That’s because you prefer little . . .”

“Don’t go there!” the Pope said sharply, interrupting his visitor.

It was one of the Pontiff’s great skills, the ability to piss off people of different backgrounds, then act as if it was all a misunderstanding. “So tell me Glx,” he began again. “Why exactly should I believe in you?”


Holy water font

 

The alien looked him up and down. He didn’t have eyebrows, exactly, but he lifted the fleshy fold over his single visual aperture upwards in an expression of skepticism. “Right back at ya, Benny,” he said after a moment of awkward silence. “Why should I believe in you?

You could have knocked the pontiff over with a splash from a holy water font. “Because I’m . . . I’m the Vicar of Christ on earth!”

“So what,” the alien said. “I’m the Vlzkkx1 of Glzorp on K2H1z!”

“Is that like a big deal?” the Pope asked.

“Absolutely–you’ve got a Popemobile, I’ve got a Glzorpmobile.”

“How many miles per gallon do you get?” the Pope asked.

“Highway or city?”

“City.”

“24 to 26–I keep pretty good records for expense reimbursement. Anyway, it might surprise you to know that, where I come from, nobody believes in you!”

“Get outta town!” the pontiff exclaimed.

“Seriously,” the alien assured him. “Just as you have your science fiction nuts here on earth, in my galaxy we have organized religion fans–like myself.”

The Pope gave the creature a wild surmise, like Cortez’s men in Keats’ “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer.” “So–do you have, like, Star Trek conventions . . .”

Francis
“With my mitre on, my head’s as big as an alien’s!”

 

“With carbon-based life forms dressing up as saints and monks and cardinals.”

The Pope was stunned, and fell into silence. “Well, I guess what’s sauce for the priest is sauce for the nun, or something like that.”

I could tell from the expression on the alien’s face that he was smiling inwardly.

“So who’s your favorite Pope?” the Pope asked Glx.

“Well, it’s hard to say,” the green being said as he rubbed what passes for a chin in the THX 1138 neck of the woods, “but if I had to pick, I’d go with Hadrian III.”

“Why him?” the Pope asked. I could tell he was a teensy bit miffed that he wasn’t #1 in the alien’s mind.


Pope Hadrian IV: That’s as close as I could get.

“Well, he was only Pope for a year and a half, but during that time he whipped a naked widow through the streets of Rome, and poked out the eyes of George of the Aventine.”

“Sounds like something out of WWE Raw,” the pontiff said, obviously impressed. “Anything else?”

“Well, Emperor Charles the Fat invited Pope Hadrian to a diet at Worms.”

The two looked at each other, then exploded in laughter. “Where do you pick this stuff up?” the Pope finally asked.

“The Oxford Dictionary of Popes,” the alien said. “Either that or something called Wikipedia, which we’re starting to get as part of basic cable.”

 

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Here’s to His Holiness: Fake Stories About Real Popes.”

Get Off My Lawn

 

I’ve reached the age at which I find
I value most my peace of mind
And for my mind to be at peace
I sometimes have to be unkind.

When I lie down to take a nap
I’m not inclined to hear some crap
about the coming fall of Greece
or some place hard to find on maps.

Greenpeace

And yet as soon as I lie down
the bleeding hearts invade my town
Sierra Club or maybe Greenpeace
They have big smiles that make me frown.

They’ve come for me to save the whales
I just nodded off—it never fails.
A rap-tap-tapping that will not cease
It hammers my head like three-penny nails!

Jehovah

There’s peripatetic religionists,
Jehovah’s Witnesses—or is it Adventists?—
Who warn me of the flames of hell
After they ring my front doorbell.

There’s politicians of every stripe
Peddling door-to-door their tripe.
I signed our house up for no-solicitation
But the First Amendment’s the pride of our nation.

Politician

Before they cross my property line,
I’d tell them not to waste their time.
“Leave your literature, I’ll take no offense,
Be careful—that’s an electric fence!”

Yet still they came, like nuns, in pairs,
I’ve thought of adding ice to the stairs,
But then a suit they would commence
Mulcting the estate I’d leave for my heirs.

I’d hear them all out, I’d stifle a yawn,
by then all hope of sleep was gone
And so I learned to play offense
By yelling at them “Get off my lawn!”

For I have reached the age at last
When time is short, for time has passed
I’ll chase them all straight over my fence
They’d better run, and they’d better be fast.

 

Ode to Tautology

The Morning Star looks like the Evening Star,
a B# sounds like a C.
My unmarried brother’s a bachelor–
They’re pretty much the same to me.

I travelled to visit Grant’s Tomb
to see who was buried there
I ate a hoagie, a sub and a grinder–
a lot of food, but I didn’t care.

hoagie

I went on a trip to Upper Volta,
I forgot to bring my lasso.
Next time I go on vacation
I want to see Burkina Faso.

I live in close proximity
to the place that I call home.
I go to the beach for the shore.
These are truths, as far as I know ‘em.

burkina faso

Whenever I order chai tea
they never bring me two cups.
It gives me pause, so I hesitate,
But then I ask “Hey—what’s up?”

Two Hurt as Boston’s “Running of the Brides” Turns Deadly

BOSTON.  For many years one of the most visited sites in this city full of tourist attractions was Filene’s Basement, the off-price retailer where men’s and women’s clothes that other stores couldn’t sell were displayed without ceremony and sold at deep discounts. “It appealed to a New Englander’s sense of thrift,” says Omar Hayes, a professor of history at Brandeis University. “‘Thrift’ is code for ‘cheap,’” he adds.

But “The Basement,” as it was known to locals, closed its flagship downtown location in 2007, leaving its annual “Running of the Brides” sale without a home.


“I saw him first!”

That misfortunate end inspired wedding planner Desmond Hathaway to suggest a make-over for the event, at which women race to grab gowns marked down by 50% or more. “I thought we could turn it into a fund-raiser for my charity, the ‘Left-at-the-Altar Foundation,’” which he says re-locates brides and grooms who are stood up on their wedding days to a different town where they can start over. “You have no idea how it can stigmatize you to be left at the altar,” he says, his eyes glistening as he fights back tears. “Also, the father of the bride will sometimes try and stiff me, and the foundation has been very supportive of me, my work, and my need to get away from Boston to someplace warm in the winter.”


“Okay–I’m sorry I didn’t call!”

He modeled the re-branded event on the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, challenging Boston’s bachelors to take to the streets to see if they could outrun women whom they have dated and then dropped or disappointed in one way or another over the years. “It’s for a good cause,” says Tim Hampy, last year’s first-place finisher. “The guy who makes it to a singles bar in Quincy Market first without being caught wins the pot, net of Twinkle-Toe’s expenses,” he explains, nodding his head in Hathaway’s direction.


They’re off!

Among the bachelors who have paid the $75 entry fee are Jim Ornwald, a graduate student working on his third masters degree, and Hampy, a roue who has cut a wide swath through the downtown “yuppie” scene. “I try very hard to let women down easy,” he says with a look of manufactured sympathy on his face. “If I run into them at a club when I’m with another woman, I always remember to say ‘I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting our friendship’ or something quasi-sensitive like that.”


“You hold him, I’ll hit him!”

After the women have chosen their gowns, they line up with the men twenty yards ahead of them. Margie Tabor, who was unceremoniously dumped by Hampy after she developed a pimple on her chin in 2012, works her way to the front of the crowd like an Ethiopian marathoner, intent on breaking a world record.

“He can run, but he can’t hide,” she says, her well-toned calves peeking out from under the hem of her tulle and crinoline outfit. “I’ve been training for six months to hunt him down like a dog.”

Ornwald, on the other hand, would like to be caught. “I find it hard to meet women,” the self-described introvert says. “I need to carry 3 x 5″ index cards with me wherever I go, in case I think of something I could use in my dissertation someday. Those little file boxes, as handy as they are, don’t project a very romantic image.”

The starter calls out “On your mark–get set” and shoots off his pistol, sending the men around the corner to Washington Street with the women in hot pursuit. Ornwald slows to a trot, hoping he will be overrun and crushed beneath a cloud of Vera Wang perfume, but the women, sensing his desperation, stride past him in the hope of catching a man with a lower student loan balance to pay off. He stumbles as Julie Furman, a management trainee at Lord & Taylor, bumps into him, and sprawls to the ground.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and a flood of sympathy causes her to overlook his unfashionable outfit; blue jeans, black Converse All-Star low-cut sneakers and a ripped “Star Wars” t-shirt. She dabs at a cut on his head with an Elizabeth Grady moisturizing pad that she takes from her purse. “You know, you have nice skin, but you need to take better care of it.”

Meanwhile, Hampy has escaped down Milk Street and turns onto Congress Street. He has only two blocks to go to the finish line at Clarke’s, a singles bar, and he has a fifty-yard lead on the pack of female runners. “This is a day at the beach,” he says to himself before he is blindsided by Tabor, who knows a long-abandoned cut-through from her days working for a large mutual fund.

She takes him down with the brutal efficiency of a linebacker and drags him back into an alley, where he cowers beneath her as she pulls down his pants.

“Wh-what are you going to do to me?” he asks, a look of abject fear on his face.

“The worst thing I can imagine,” she says with a bitter smile. “Brazilian bikini wax.”

 

Available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com as part of the collection “Boston Baroques.”

My Night With the All-College Girl Revue

“It’s all your fault,” I said as my fiancee peeled the lids back from my eyeballs, dessicated from the diuretic effects of too many beers, gin and tonics (or is it “gins and tonic”?), martinis and something called a “Zombie,” a high octane cocktail that came in a mug shaped like an Easter Island statue.


Zombie cocktail (not shown actual size)

“How is your getting plastered at your bachelor party my fault?” she asked.

“You know what Charles Mackay said, right?”

“Who’s Charles Mackay?”

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

“That sounds like something I’d buy the Cliffs Notes for.”

“You really should read it.”

“What’s it say?” she asked with a tone that suggested–ever so delicately–that she didn’t really care.

“Men go mad in crowds, and they come back to their senses slowly and one by one.”

“As Pee-wee Herman would say, ‘La la la–connect the dots’ for me.”

“It was your decision to have four bridesmaids. That means I have to have four groomsmen. Each of them thinks of somebody who absolutely has to be invited, so that makes eight. Pretty soon four or five other guys hear about it and want to come because they’ve always admired me even though I hate their guts.”

“So?”

“You reach a critical mass of male stupidity and after the accelerant of alcohol has been poured in, it explodes in the suggestion that the festivities be moved to the Combat Zone.”

“Boston’s world-renowned district that offers adult entertainment to men acting like boys?”

“The same. I’d never been in a strip club before.”

“You really expect me to believe that?”

“It’s true. The Combat Zone is a scary area. Every year some high school football player trying to prove he’s a man gets knifed by a pimp. I didn’t want to end up like that.”

“I can’t understand why.”

“Are you serious? Having some crappy athletic field in Medford or Malden named after you?”

“I was kidding,” she said emphatically. “And you say I’m literal-minded.”

She applied a cold cloth to my forehead. “So . . . what exactly happened?”

“Well, the guys offered me a choice from the smorgasbord of Boston’s many fine fleshpots–The First Amendment, Gentlemen’s VIP Lounge III, The Kit Kat Klub.”

“And which did you pick?”

“I’d always been curious about Jerome’s Naked i.”

“Why?”

“Their ads said they had an ‘All-College Girl Revue.’”

“And education is important to you, right?”

“Absolutely. It’s made such a difference in my life!”

“So you and a dozen guys traipse over there and–was it what you expected?”

“I think at this point I’d better write you out of this post–it was kind of a rough joint.”

“Okay . . . I appreciate it.”

She leaned over to kiss me, then faded out, leaving me in the present, recalling my night at the Naked i.

As we entered I was overwhelmed by the smell, which reminded me of nothing so much as the parochial school boys’ room of my youth; that hyper-sanitary odor of industrial-strength disinfectant, a comforting assurance that the owners had spared no expense to insure that patrons had a fun, parasite-free experience.

The eyes on the other guys grew wide as they took in the many tawdry women parading their wares. “Have a seat,” my best man said, directing me to an open barstool.

Immediately, like a genie, a willowy brunette with hair piled high atop her head like Dusty Springfield appeared at my side.

“Hi,” she said in a soft, kitten-like tone. “My name’s Crystal Chandelier.”

“Wow,” I said, looking her up and down. “You’re the first woman I’ve ever met who’s named after a light fixture.”

“My dad was an electrician,” she said, batting her eyelashes. “Why don’t you buy me a drink?”

The best man was standing behind her, shaking his head back and forth. He’s more experienced than I am at the kabuki-like rituals of the strip club demimonde. Never, he had emphasized before we went in, buy a dancer a drink. The club can impose a cover charge, but it’s a violation of the Fair Strip Club Practices Act to force patrons to pay high prices for phony cocktails that have no alcohol in them. Still, there was something so innocent and genuine about her–I couldn’t help myself.

“Sure,” I said and hailed the bartender. “I’ll have a light beer and whatever tickles the lady’s fancy.”

“You’re not allowed to do that unless you got the Platinum membership.”

“Okay–just give her what she wants to drink.”

He poured her something that looked like a Shirley Temple and plunked it down in front of her next to my beer.

“So,” I asked, arching one eyebrow upwards in a look that I hoped bespoke my depths of worldly sophistication, “what’s your major?”

“My major what?”

“What field are you majoring in?”

“I don’t understand.”

“The sign outside says ‘All-College Girl Revue.’ You’re a college girl–right?”

She hesitated, and I saw her look over at the bartender. He screwed up his mouth as if to say “Play along with him.”

“I . . . uh . . . haven’t decided yet,” she said. “I’m torn between psychology and English.”

“Two excellent disciplines,” I said. “You don’t want to decide too quickly–get your core courses out of the way first.”

“Like French 101–Physics for Non-Majors?”

“Right. Lots of people switch majors. If you make the wrong decision you can end up taking a lot of courses you don’t need.”

“Thanks . . . thanks a lot,” she said in a purr that would have turned on a neutered tomcat. “Say . . . why don’t you and me go back into one of the private rooms?”

I looked over her shoulder at my best man, and this time he was nodding his head up and down, a knowing look in his eye.

“What . . . do they have back there?” I asked. She was rubbing my leg now, and she leaned towards me so that I was hit with the full force of her musky pheromones.

“Course catalogs that you and I could look at . . . until we get hot.”

I felt as if I’d just been told I’d been taken off the waiting list for an upper-level seminar on metaphor. “The good stuff?”

“We’ve got everything,” she said in a low, sultry voice. “What do you like?”

“I have rather . . . eclectic tastes,” I said. My thigh was quivering like Chris Matthews’ when he listens to tapes of Obama speeches.


“He never calls!”

“I’m here to pleasure you,” she said.

“You wouldn’t happen to have . . .”

“Tell me!”

“The SUNY-Buffalo catalog from the ’70′s?”

“When Leslie Fielder and John Barth were in the English Department at the same time?”

“That’s the one.”

“I believe there’s still room in that course for a . . . promising student like you.”


Leslie Fielder

She smiled and I was ready to go, but my best man shook his head and made a motion like he was reeling in a fish. I got the message–play it for all it was worth.

“What else?” I said.

“Do you like Thorstein Veblen?”

She’d found my weak spot. Who wouldn’t like a philandering professor who’d added so many lapidary turns of phrase to my repertoire, including “physiognomy of astuteness” and “a knothole of a town in a stump of a state” about Columbia, Missouri, where my sisters went to college.


Thorstein Veblen

“I . . . I’d like that very much.”

“We have the listings from Stanford, the University of Missouri, the University of Chicago, of all the courses he was supposed to teach but refused to.”

I’d heard enough. “Okay,” I said, reaching for my wallet, “let’s go.”

“Hold on, pal,” I heard as a hand grabbed me by the shoulder. It was my best man–I know he was just looking out for me, but dammit, I was about to explode. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“With her. I think I’m . . . in love.”

“I knew this would happen, you rookie,” he said. “I can’t let you do it. You’ve got a beautiful woman–without social diseases–waiting for you. C’mon–let’s go,” he said as he jerked his head back towards the exit.

“No!” I blurted out as I pulled away from him. “She’s promised me something I’ve never experienced before!”

“What’s that?”

“An interdisciplinary program combining the History and Philosophy of History and Philosophy and the Hermeneutics of Teleology!”

Trapping for Poetesses

 

In these days . . . so many ingenious traps for catching and hamstringing female poets have been invented that it is a rare editor who ever really sees one.

H.L. Mencken, Memoirs of an Editor

I set a snare before the door
of a shoppe that brewed its coffee bitter.
An Adrienne Rich-type took the bait,
and scurried through where the deadfall hit her.

She was stunned, to say the least,
her poetic gifts, for the time, suspended;
her close-cropped hair couldn’t go awry
but her derriere was, of course, upended.

“Why’d you do that?” she finally asked
when sense and sensibility returned.
“Has a bounty been offered to those who trap
a female poet, by passion burned?”

“Sorry,” I said, “just doing my job,
don’t think of me as your natural predator.
I was asked to capture all feral bardettes
by an overworked, underpaid poetry editor.”

“I assume,” she said, “that you speak of a he,
a man with a plan to bar feminine verse.”
“Uh, yeh,” I replied, “it’s an editing guy
who decreed that distaff stuff’s the worst.”

“What about Dickinson, what about Moore?
What about Sappho, to give you one more?
What about Edna St. Freaking Millay?
I could name you so many you’d probably get bored.”

“Sure, they’re fine, each in her way,”
I danced in response, I practically pavaned her.
“The problem is not just the poems in themselves,
They’re written on paper that’s scented with lavender.”

 

Available in print and Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Girl With the Cullender on Her Head (and Other Wayward Women).”

Maisie Dear

Maisie dear, I can’t forget her–
I only wish her poems were better.
If they partook of lyricism
there’d be no reason for our schism,
but it’s too bad, that won’t be happening
because her lines are all quite sappening.

Me, by contrast, I write junk
to lift a poetessa’s funk;
the kind who loves her stormy weather
and sips tea in the altogether
because she’s too depressed to rise
and pulls the covers to her eyes.

But Maisie, she likes unicorns–
she sees the rose but not the thorns.
She dreams of fairies, elves and sprites
when she retires for the night.

So when I write a poem in jest
she holds it closely to her chest
and there against her blouse’s yoke
she doesn’t get my feeble joke.

We could, if she had half a mind,
become as one, enamored, kind.
We’d stay indoors as rainstorms raged
and write our poems page by page
and when the sun perchance did shine
we’d go outside where she’d read mine
and then she’d say “Now it’s your turn,
here’s one about a Grecian urn
that fell and broke, from where it sat
quite high above a welcome mat.”

No Maisie, we must sadly part
for I possess an antic heart
while yours is pure, and sweet and simple–
as naughty as a cupid’s dimple.

I’ll miss your lashes and brown eyes
until the very day I’m dead;
I do not mean to criticize
but jokes of mine fly o’er your head.

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