Rescue Dudes Find Shelter in Arms of Less-Intense Women

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  Eli Tucker is a twenty-eight year old man with above-average looks and a good job, but his self-esteem barely registers on the Kinsdorph-Eisenstat Personality Index.  “Eli bears the scars of an abusive relationship,” says Tom Selfkirk, executive director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dudes.  “When we rescued him he’d been starved on white wine, quiche and arugula,” Selfkirk notes with a lump in his throat.  “He’d cringe when he heard the theme song to Grey’s Anatomy.”

“No–anything but that!”


The MSPCD removed him from the apartment in which he was living with Judith Clark, a high-strung and demanding M.B.A. who would criticize his handyman skills and mock his taste in music at social gatherings.  “He was like a whipped dog,” says Tina Shore, the reference librarian who is now Tucker’s caretaker.  “I slowly brought him back to life by feeding him cheeseburgers and pulled pork sliders,” she says with a mixture of pride and affection.  “He’s almost ready to go to a Red Sox game, but we’re going to break him in slowly by starting with soccer.”

“You’re not really going to wear that out to dinner–are you?”


Tucker and men like him are referred to by mental health professionals as “rescue dudes,” human males who have been removed from abusive relationships with overbearing women and gradually nursed back to dude-it-tude under the watchful eyes of professionals, including a female “buddy” typically drawn from the non-profit or healing professions.  “Rescue dudes tend to flinch when they approach a social event because they’ve been criticized on the doorstep so many times for wearing blue jeans, or not wearing blue jeans, or wearing blue jeans with or without a crease in them,” says Selfkirk.  “They suffer from cognitive dissonance, double-bind syndrome, yellow waxy buildup and heartbreak of psoriasis.”

“You’re making progress, but I’m going to keep you on pork rinds until your next visit.”


Modeled after the “rescue dogs” program of the MSPCA that relocates canines mistreated by abusive owners, Rescue Dudes seeks to work the same sort of rehabilitation with men so beaten down by the prejudices of daytime talk shows they can no longer name the original six teams of the NHL.  “In some ways men are just as smart as dogs,” says Eloise Verbeeck who works to place men in more congenial settings after they’ve been removed from abusive situations.  “Not a lot, but some.”

But intensive care coupled with a potent drug cocktail composed of beer, beef jerky and honey-roasted peanuts have provided urologists and bait shops with hope that even the worst cases can be reversed over time.  “Science is inching closer to a cure,” says Dr. Timothy Fabor as he watches a research subject tuck into a heaping bowl of chili from behind a one-way mirror.  “Unfortunately, nobody wants to hold a walk-a-thon for a guy whose idea of high style is a suitcase of Busch Natural Light Beer.”

“Change the channel to ice skating–RIGHT NOW!”


Still, women like Tina Shore say strict adherence to doctors’ orders can produce short-term improvements that can be sustained with the right combination of positive reinforcement and firm discipline, as long as patients don’t seek to progress too quickly.  “Eli!” she says with a scowl that is only half-serious as her new roommate aims the remote control at their TV set.  “You weren’t thinking of switching to basketball–were you?”

“La Yoga Nostra” Grows as Mob Muscles In

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  This densely-populated suburb of Boston is known now as a student ghetto, but not long ago it was notorious as the headquarters for one of the most powerful organized crime rings in the Northeast.  “The Summer Hill Gang was named after the street where it first put down roots, and it controlled prostitution, gambling, extortion and mumblety-peg in this area with a vise-like grip,” says retired prosecutor Michael Stantler, winking at this reporter over his play on words.  “By the time I retired they were pretty much out of business due to an excess of native stupidity.”

Beautiful downtown Somerville


Demographics changed all that as students and young couples began to replace older working-class families; the number of bowling alleys in the city’s zip code fell from fourteen to one, before rebounding to twelve when hipsters took up ironic bowling.  At the same time, the number of yoga studios soared from zero to twenty-two at present, presenting aging mobsters with an opportunity even if they didn’t realize it at first.

“Yoga, like trash collection and cement-mixing, is an excellent vehicle for money-laundering,” the process of converting ill-gotten gains into the apparent proceeds of legitimate business, says Lyle DeLisle, a member of the State Police’s Organized Crime Strike Force.  “It’s mainly a cash-business.  It’s tough to consolidate on a regional basis because of the need to deliver the services in person, and there’s not a lot of competition because people don’t like to handle garbage, wet cement or sweaty yoga leotards.”

Hipster bowling: “I don’t let my MFA-induced sense of irony keep me from my bowling night.”


And so a sub-family of the Summer Hill Gang came into being almost overnight, like mushrooms after a heavy rain.  “La Yoga Nostra has muscled in on just about every branch of yoga and yoga accessories,” says DeLisle. “Hatha, raja, tantra, mantra–you name it, they got it covered.”

The extent to which organized crime has infiltrated the once-spiritual discipline becomes apparent as the spring schedule of classes is posted at Downward Facing Dog Studios in Davis Square, a facility up a flight of stairs from a pizza parlor that formerly housed a tae kwon do institute.  “Who is Tony ‘The Ice Pick’ Gravano?” asks Beth Arthur, who was hoping to secure a place in an advanced hatha yoga class.

“I don’t know,” her friend Mia Flores says as she scans the list.  “Gaetano ‘Joey Pockets’ DiSalvo is new too.”

The two make their way uncertainly up the steps where they are met by a heavy-set man sitting behind a metal desk, who is scanning a racing form as he smokes a cigar.

“Excuse me?” Arthur asks hesitantly.

The gatekeeper–Steve “Baby Shanks” Buco–looks up from his paper and gives the two young women the once-over.  “What can I do for youse?”

“You wanna achieve nirvana you better get that derriere in the air-e-air, sweetie.”


Flores gulps, but finds her voice and asks “We were hoping to sign up for spring classes.”

“Terrific,” Buco says.  “A ten-class card is $108, but since it’s such a beautiful day, I’m gonna offer it to youse for a bill.”

“A . . . bill?” Arthur asks, not recognizing the underground slang term for one hundred dollars.

“A Benjamin,” Buco replies with a manner that suggests he’s surprised to be dealing with someone so naïve.

“Benjamin?” Flores asks, still confused.

“One . . . hundred . . . dollars–got it?” Buco snaps, beginning to get annoyed.

“Oh, I see,” Arthur says, relieved that the language barrier has been breached.  She reaches in her purse and starts to take out her checkbook, but Buco stops her.

“No checks, sweetie,” he says after removing his cigar from his mouth and blowing a perfect smoke ring.

“But they always have before,” Arthur says.

“Well there’s a new sheriff in town,” Buco says as he slips a small key into the lock of a grey metal cash box.

“Here, I’ll pay for us both,” Flores says as she takes out a credit card.

“Everybody stay on your mats and nobody gets hurt, okay?”


“Excuse me,” Buco says with the air of one about to correct a disobedient child.

“What’s wrong?” Flores asks, genuinely puzzled.

“Didn’t youse hear the omniscient narrator say the word ‘cashbox’ up there a few lines ago?” Buco snaps.

“Well, yes, I guess,” she replies with an abashed air.

“So . . . if I took credit cards, he woulda said ‘credit box’–right?”

“I suppose,” Flores says.

“Is there an ATM around here anywhere?” Arthur asks.  “I don’t want to lose my spot in the class.”

“Down the stairs, past the pizza parlor,” Buco says with the air of someone who knows the value of the product he has to sell.  “There’s a stoplight, it’s right across the street.”

“Thanks,” Arthur says.  “We’ll be right back.”

“Fine,” Buco says as he returns to his paper for the odds in the third race at Suffolk Downs.  “Oh, and ladies . . . one more thing.”

“Yes?” Flores asks.

“Cross at the green and not in between,” he says with a smirk.  “We don’t like no lawbreakers in our classes, okay?”


Available on as part of the collection “Busted: The Lighter Side of Crime and Punishment.”

The Difference Between Men and Women

When sixth-grade science teacher Pat Farrell assigns an earth-science lab on measuring crystals, the girls collect their materials . . . read the directions and follow the sequence from beginning to end. The first thing boys do is ask, “Can we eat this?”

                    The Trouble With Boys, Newsweek.

The search team from Afternoon in Paris Perfumes had been combing the pristine New Zealand beach for hours, hoping to find ambergris–the hard yet waxy substance that is formed in the stomachs of sperm whales from the undigested beaks of squid that they eat. Used by the cosmetics industry as a fixative for fine perfumes (and privately by individuals as an aphrodisiac) the rare and valuable substance gives off an odor that some say brings to mind scented cow dung, leading one to ask–how the hell do they know what scented cow dung smells like?

“We’ll camp here for the night,” said crew leader Linda Roget, Director of Research for the perfume company. She slipped off her backpack and removed her collapsible tent from its waterproof sack.

Just then a cry was heard from down near the water. Rob Merriwether, Assistant Collector of Samples, had found something.

“Look,” he shouted. “I think this is the real thing.” The others gathered around to examine the white, grey, black or brown object that was either flat or square but also somewhat rounded, with a texture that was soft and sticky like melting tar but sometimes hard, like dry clay.

“Let me see that,” Roget said, brushing her hair back from her forehead with the back of one hand. “Hmm,” she said. “I think this is worth saving.” She called out to her chief chemist, Barbara da Costa.


“Yes, Linda,” her co-worker said as she ran down to the water’s edge.

“Take a look at this,” Roget said as she handed her the specimen.

“Looks promising,” the chemist replied as she examined the musky-smelling hunk of congealed whale vomit. “Do you want me to run the usual tests on it?”

“Precisely,” Roget replied.

“Wait a minute,” Rob Merriwether interjected. “I found it.”

“You know this is company property,” Roget said to him sternly, her left eyebrow raised upwards towards her forbidding widow’s peak .

“I just want a couple of bites,” Merriwether said. “We finished the Milk Duds over an hour ago.”


The mood in the operating room was somber as doctors raced to save the life of Clifton Remington, Assistant Liaison to the Undersecretary of State for Cross-Border Relationships.

Dr. Winslow Crocker, Jr., the dean of adenoid surgeons in the highly-competitive Boston-Cambridge medical community, held his arms out while a nurse stretched rubber gloves onto his hands in preparation for surgery.

Just then the operating room doors flew open and in walked Dr. Beverly Orvallis, upstart surgical enfant terrible, fresh from a lecture at the Harvard Medical School on minimally invasive strategies for correcting the debilitating effects of Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease.

“Just a minute,” she said in a defiant challenge to Crocker’s authority. “You’re not going to use the outmoded and potentially fatal Heinz-Szabo technique to remove this man’s adenoids, are you?”

Crocker’s lips curled in what was at the same time a smile and a sneer, both of them dripping with contempt, as he looked at his former student. “What would you suggest–Doctor?” he said in a condescending tone.

This!” she exclaimed as she quickly plunged an Italian stiletto-style curette behind the man’s soft palate. A quarter-turn of her hand and she held aloft the fruits of her labor-two gleaming gobs of lymphatic tissue that had been blocking the nasopharynx of the unconscious attaché.

“Let me see them,” Crocker said with a curious expression.

“Sound medical protocol calls for these to be sent to the lab immediately!” Orvallis replied, suspicious of his intentions.

“I want to know if they shrivel up like oysters when you put salt on them,” he said before turning to an orderly and shouting, “Get me some cocktail sauce-pronto!”



The quest for the Canadian Cabbage butterfly-mortal enemy of radishes, turnips, cauliflower and, of course, cabbages–had extended into the dark Quebec night. Search-and-capture squads had switched to fluorescent “black light” tubes in order to pursue their quarry unseen. Evelyn Urquart, head of the expedition, was fearful that if she forced her crew to march further she’d have a lepidopteran mutiny on her hands.

“This is far enough. Let’s just collect a few pupae and call it a night,” lapsing into laboratory Latin with fatigue.

Her subordinates began to pick through rolled leaves, twigs and loose bark to find the cryptically camouflaged cocoons, but without much luck.

Then, from over her shoulder, Urquart heard a crackling sound.

“Kinda crunchy,” a male voice said. “Like pork rinds.”


Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “The Difference Between Men and Women.”

Writing My Obituary

It came on all of a sudden, like a summer thunderstorm.  We had been talking at dinner about friends and family, and family of friends, who had passed on recently, and my wife became teary-eyed.

“You just never know when you’re going to lose someone,” she said as her face clouded over with foreboding.  “If you died . . .”

“You mean when I die . . .”

“I was going to say, if you died soon . . . I wouldn’t know what to put in your obituary.  You’ve done so many . . .”

She choked up, and couldn’t speak.

“Trivial things?” I offered helpfully.

“I was going to say ‘stupid,’ but yes, maybe ‘trivial’ is a better word.”  She had that stoic demeanor of an ancient female relation in a tale by Faulkner.  She would not just endure, but prevail against the forces that threatened to snatch me away from her at any minute–a light beer truck driven by a texting Teamster, for example.

Her concern was timely.  A week earlier I’d fallen in a hole in the pavement next to the Surface Artery, the high-speed boulevard I must cross on my way to work, and tumbled into the road, so we’d had a recent intimation of my mortality.  “You’ve mentioned a riderless horse before . . .” she said as her voice trailed off.

“I was kidding, sweetie,” I said as I patted her hand.  She was too young to remember the poignant touch that this symbolic animal lent to the funeral of President Kennedy, but I recalled it vividly.  I’d long ago decided that it was over-the-top, de trop as the French would say, right after they corrected me for thinking that “cheveux”–which means “hair”–is the French word for “horse.”

“I don’t need a riderless horse,” I said.  “Times have changed.  I was thinking more along the lines of a driverless car.”

“Like Google is making?”


“Well, that would remind me of the way you drive,” she said, as she stifled a sniffle.

“I don’t think it will be hard for you to write my obit.  I’ve already done a lot of the spadework.”

Image result for frank conroy stop time

“You have?”

“Yep.  Surely you’ve read my autobiography–‘So Far, So Good’?”

A look of chagrin scuddered over her face, like the shadow of a low-hanging cloud as it blows by above you.  “Actually, no,” she admitted.  “When did you write it?”

“Fifth grade.  I got an A+ on it.  It’s considered a classic of the genre.”

“What genre is that?”

“The youthful autobiography.  Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves.  Stop Time by Frank Conroy.  Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story.”

“Why does he get to have two colons in his title?”

Image result for bieber

“He’s The Bieb.”

She rubbed her finger under her nose, and I handed her my napkin.  She’d already used hers, but I wipe my hands on my pants, so mine was clean.  “I didn’t know you’d written an autobiography.  But what about . . .”

“The later stuff?”


“I’m not sure I’ve actually accomplished that much since then.  Remember, I was a two-time spelling bee champ, earning a perfect score both times.”

“That’s why I don’t need a dictionary with you around,” she said, as she took a turn patting my hand.

“I’d become the first class president in my little Catholic school from a mixed marriage . . .”

“Like Obama?”

“Sort of.  My mom’s Protestant.”

“And yet, you never hear about that on the news.  So after that . . .”

“Well, I was a member of a prize-winning polka troupe in sixth grade . . .”

She began to choke up again.  “Who . . . who was your partner?”

“Carolyn Spretzel.  But I’m not in touch with her anymore.”

“Not even on Facebook?”

I placed both hands on the table so she could see I hadn’t crossed any fingers.  “I promise.”  I did what I always do when I want to comfort her: I got down on my knees, scooched over to where she was sitting, and gave her a big, wet, warm, sloppy kiss.  Husband as golden retriever.

“How about your memorial service.  I know you want a traditional New Orleans band, right?”

Image result for new orleans funeral band

“Correct.  ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee’ to the cemetery, ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ coming back.”

She looked off into the distance.  I could tell she was calculating in her mind how the mounting cost of my obsequies was going to cut into her merry widowhood, and I’m not talking about the bustier.  I mean her decorating budget, once I was gone and could no longer stand athwart the entrance to the living room, yelling “Stop!” when she tried to put up new window treatments.

Image result for merry widow bustier
Merry Widow

“How about poems,” she said finally.  “I know you love poetry . . .”

“But you hate it.”

“I only hate it when I don’t understand it.”

“Don’t worry–I wouldn’t make you read any Wallace Stevens.”

“Who’s he?”

“According to Robert Frost, The Poet of Bric-a-Brac.”

“Like your mother used to have on that knick-knack shelf in her dining room?”

“Right–the one I crashed pretending to be Wile E. Coyote clinging to a ledge one night.”

Image result for wile e coyote ledge

“Why were you doing that?”

“I was young and stupid.  And animated by the spirit of a Warner Brothers cartoon character.”

“Okay,” she said, apparently forgiving me for a misdeed that my mother–now gone–couldn’t.  “So what poem would you like?”

‘The Lotos-eaters’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.”

“Why does he have a comma in the middle of his name?”

“I don’t know.  I guess he was a big star in his time, like The Bieb.”

“How does it go?”

“You don’t have to read the whole thing, just these lines:

Dear is the memory of our wedded lives,
And dear the last embraces of our wives
And their warm tears: but all hath suffer’d change:
For surely now our household hearths are cold,
Our sons inherit us: our looks are strange:
And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy.
Or else the island princes over-bold
Have eat our substance, and the minstrel sings
Before them of the ten years’ war in Troy,
And our great deeds, as half forgotten things.

I waited a moment for the sound of the last words to die away.  “Do you like it?” I asked at last.

“It’s okay,” she said, and now her tears were dry.  “Just don’t come like a ghost to trouble my joy when I’m having my girlfriends over.”

A Neighborhood Without Euphemisms

The El over my head thundered just as it did in that early New York of the Oliver Optics; there were signs hung above the roofs, gold letters on a black field, advertising jewelry, Klein’s Special Size Suits for Fat Men, pawnshops.

Alfred Kazin, A Walker in the City

As I walked the streets of my childhood again, it struck me that they were just the same as they had always been:  Brownsville, that forthright neighborhood, so unlike the ones in which They, the Others, The Protestants lived.  They were reticent, evasive even, about what went on inside their commercial establishments.  Lord & Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Tiffany & Co.  What did Lord & Taylor make?  What were the Brooks Brothers first names?  Who was this “Co.” that so many of the Eastern Establishment had taken into their partnerships, and why did he get a period at the end of his name?  In their striving for discretion, they left a walker in the city confused, in the dark, constantly questioning.

Not at all like Brownsville, where every store shouted out its wares, and–if you were a likely customer–insulted you in the process.  Klein’s Special Size Suits for Fat Men.  Sarah’s Fine Fashions for Single Women Who Aren’t Getting Any Younger and Could Do Worse Than Marry an Accountant.  Cohen’s Baked Goods That Maybe You Shouldn’t Eat So Many Of You’re Getting a Little Broad in the Beam, You Know.

How did the WASPs live their lives of quiet desperation, constantly reining in their emotions, instead of letting them fly free, like the pigeons from their wire cages on the roofs of our apartments.  Yes, our merchants had chutzpah, and our pigeons would relieve themselves on your head, but isn’t that better than becoming an alcoholic and having your brother-in-law forge your name on a power of attorney and transfer your gilt-edge bonds to a blind trust for the benefit of his sister’s poodle?  What was it with the descendants of Puritans and their testamentary gifts to little yipper-dog house pets?

No, we lived in a different world.  In Brownsville, every day after school we boys would pummel each other with fists and with words.   “Your sister shops at Chubby Girls Clothes by Lola!” we’d yell, then when our antagonist was reduced to tears, throw in the coup de grace:  “Your mother wears army boots from the Canal Street Shoppe for Big-Footed Women–ha!”  Then we’d run home to do our homework, all in the hope of pleasing our forbidding Protestant teachers so we could rise in the world.

Even our door-to-door salesmen and women possessed an edge that you didn’t see or hear in the Presbyterian streets just a subway ride away.  Over there, it was “Ding, dong–Avon calling!”  Among us, it was “BZZZZT” on the door buzzer, then “Ruth’s Oily T-Zone Cosmetics for Women Whose Foreheads Look Like the Ghawar Oil Field in God-Forsaken Saudi Arabia!”  But that’s the way we lived, that was the way we were; a neighborhood without euphemisms.

Should a little goy boy who’d eaten too many Twinkies wander our way with his mother, looking for a bargain at a “Chubby Children’s Clothing Emporium” or a store with a “Portly Boys” department, we’d give them the gimlet eye, cluck our tongues and say “Excuse me, I think the place you are looking for is Farnsworth’s Fat Boy Duds, over on Houston Street.”

The mother would recoil all June Cleaver-like, give us a “Well, I never!”–then spin on her low-heeled pumps and head back to where she belonged.

To those mean streets where everything was full-price, no discounts, no haggling.  All very decorous–and expensive.  We could have said “We don’t want your kind around here!” as they high-tailed it out of Brownsville, but no–we were tolerant.  We understood that God made all clothing customers, and that he made WASPs with a very special purpose in mind:

Somebody’s gotta pay retail.

The Bra Whisperer

          A Boston-area woman has earned the nickname “The Bra Whisperer” for her skill at properly fitting women with undergarments.

                 The Boston Globe 


We was hunkered down on our haunches–me and the kid who’d won a Mademoiselle summer internship, like Sylvia Plath–in the foundation undergarments pen where we’d been busting breasts for the better part of the morning.  It hadn’t taken me long to figure out that the kid didn’t know nothing about bras, much less teddys or body shapers.  First female out of the box it had taken him ten minutes to size her, rassle her into a changing booth and try to solve her problem.  Eventually I had to take over.

She’s too East-West I said, eschewing quotation marks like a character in a Cormac McCarthy novel or somethin’.  The woman was a pert lady golfer from Shaker Heights, Ohio.  Her bra fit like she had a bookshelf full of bodice rippers inside her Pepto-Bismol pink top.

Good Lord, woman!

Looks like two hogs fightin’ under a sheet, the kid said.

I glared at him like he was a frozen Mexican dinner I was tryin’ to defrost.  Where’d you learn to say that? I asked.

I took me a correspondence course from the Dan Rather School of Homespun Similes, he said.  You know, like “Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs”?

Figgers. What Dan Rather knows about honest down-to-earth, God-fearin’ faux-bumpkin slang would fit in the navel of an orange with room left over for a fruit fly, I said.

The kid looked embarrassed and he had every right to be.  That saying is to be applied only to the view from behind of a woman just starting a Jenny Craig diet walkin’ down the street in yoga pants, I said with disgust.

The kid was silent for awhile, then spat onto the ground, as if to prove he knew his ass from a hole in the ground even though he’d made such a rookie slang mistake.  The sun was getting higher in the sky and perspiration was starting to run down our faces like rain off a tin roof.  We heard the gentle hum of a Scandinavian-engineered car on the horizon and looked out towards State Road HH.  A Volvo station wagon turned left onto the long drive that led to Doc Lowe’s rodeo lot, where we was holdin’ a special two-day bra-fittin’ event.

Here comes trouble, I said.

Why’s that? the kid said.


Unless I miss my guess this here’s a woman never much paid attention to her bra all the way through college and grad school, I said.  Didn’t have to–nobody cares what you look like in a student lounge.  Now she’s got her JD or MBA or whatever and is fixin’ to start her first real job.  Someone took her aside–a senior woman, a Sallie Krawcheck-type–after her last interview and pulled her blouse-tail.

Pulled her blouse-tail? the kid asked.

Did you graduate from that Dan Rather course, or just audit it? I said.

I got a certificate, it’s in the bunk house he said.

Sallie Krawcheck:  “You need a longer band, NOT bigger cups!”

It was my turn to spit as a sign of the contempt I felt for the kid.  Whatever you paid for it was too much.  Like I was sayin’, somebody took her aside and said she needed her bra fitted by someone who knows what the hell they’re doin’, a real bra-whisperer.

Huh, the kid huh’ed.

My spleen was vented by then and I turned to where the Volvo had come to a stop.  A woman got out and from twenty yards away I could tell she’d just been guessing her size since she first got out of a training bra.  Bought whatever was on sale in her “size.”  I know I told you I wasn’t gonna use quotation marks to prove my bona fides among tough-guy western bra-wranglers but this was different.  I was bein’ sarcastic which is okay on the wind-swept prairies where men learn how to size a bra the hard way or they don’t learn at all.

“Excuse me,” the woman said.  She was allowed to use quotation marks–probably called them “inverted commas” when she was an undergraduate English major.

Yes I said.

“I’m looking for . . . the ‘bra whisperer’?”

Yer lookin’ at him, I said.

“I see two people.”

Not the kid, me.  The kid couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if there was instructions on the heel.

“Oh, okay.  Well, uh, what are your qualifications?”


I coulda seen that one comin’ a mile off.  She’d built her whole life on the phony-baloney credentialism of American higher education, she figured everybody else is the same way.

You know there’s an old Will Rogers movie . . .

“Who’s Will Rogers?”

He’s a cowboy got a turnpike named after him in Oklahoma where they sell glow-in-the-dark Chinese backscratchers.

“Oh.  Go on . . .”

And a guy asks Will Rogers if he has a birth certificate and Will Rogers says where he comes from people meet you they figure you’ve been born they don’t need to see a piece of paper to be convinced of it.

Will Rogers Turnpike, Oklahoma

“What does that have to do with my ill-fitting bra?”

A lot.  It means I don’t have a diploma from the Overholt School of Lingerie Fitting, but I grew up on a bra farm.

“I didn’t know there was such a thing.”

My daddy owned Mid-Missouri’s Finest Ladies Specialty Shop–and he didn’t spell shop shoppe.  He had the biggest selection of bras in any direction for fifty miles, all the way over to Jeff City.  I was washin’ down bra mannequins when you weren’t even a gleam in your daddy’s eye lookin’ at your mom sidewise to see how full-figured she was.

The woman glanced down at her foot and pawed at the ground as if she was tryin’ to dig up a sales slip to return a push-up bra her husband bought her for Valentine’s Day.  “Well, I suppose that’s good enough,” she said.  “Anyway, someone recommended I come see you.”

Go get the sample trunk, I snapped at the kid.  And don’t stop to flip through the Victoria’s Secret catalog in the outhouse.

No problem, the kid said.  God I hate it when your so-called millennials do that.  I know it’s not a problem, it shouldn’t be a problem–just do it.

The kid ambled off and I said c’mere to the woman.  She stepped forward shyly and I sized her up.  Women is like horses I said to her as I squared her shoulders.

“That’s kind of insulting,” she said, bristling a bit.


No offense intended, ma’am.  It’s just that every one of ’em’s different.  Two women can both be a B cup and need completely different bras.

“How can that be?”

Where a lot of women go wrong is they figure, big cup, big band.  But you can be a D cup and still need a small band.

“How is that physically possible?”

I wanted to tell her about Nina, the ballet dancer from the Joffrey I’d dated for four ambiguous months.  She was shaped like a spinning top, it really helped on her pirouettes.  I thought better of it and buttoned my lip.  I was being paid to whisper, she didn’t want to hear about my failed love life.

Believe me, it’s possible, I said.  Lemme get a look at your puppies.

I cast an eye over the gently rolling mounds of her north forty.  I didn’t want to lift up her blouse, but I didn’t need to.  I could see what the problem was.

You keep wearin’ that bra you could be arrested for cruelty to animals, I said.

“But I don’t have any pets.”

I’m talking about those two in there, I said.  It’s dollars to donuts your underwires are diggin’ into you–am I right?

“I caught a couple of strays headin’ off the ranch.”

She made a little moue, which I suppose meant she wasn’t happy to hear what I said.  Maybe you don’t like what I’m sayin’–you don’t have to listen to me, I said.  But the last woman who ignored my advice ended up all red-faced at a charity gala when her gals jumped the lace fence and headed for the open range out the top of her gown.

“Oh dear–that must have been awful!”

It was, ma’am.  They had to call the animal control officer to get them back in their pen.

The kid had returned by then with my extensive collection of high-quality bras in cup sizes ranging from A to K.

I’m going to have to ask you to avert your eyes now, I said to the woman.

“Why?  They’re connected to me.”

The reason I whisper is because they’re shy, I said.  They don’t want you to know how they feel.

“Sounds pretty ridiculous to me,” she said.

Red Adair:  “I’m going to need more lace and elastic–PRONTO!”

Ain’t that just like a woman–no feelings at all, I said to the kid, tryin’ to break the sudden air of tension that had descended upon our little threesome–actually I guess we were a fivesome.  I’d heard Red Adair, the famous oil well fire-fighter, used to do the same before risking his life going into a dangerous situation.

“All right,” she said, and she turned her head to take in the gentle beauty of the central Missouri countryside; rolling hills, stalks of sorghum waving in the field.  She smiled and waved back.

You don’t have to do that, I said.  They’re just plants used for grain, fiber and fodder.

“Now who’s the one without feelings?” she asked with an uplifted eyebrow.


I walked right into that one, I said.

I bent at the knees and moved in closer to her bodice, where I saw two frightened little girls who’d been crammed into cups too small, with a band two inches too short, for much too long.  They were spilling over into the armpits, and if I didn’t act fast they’d be stuck in a ditch, like an ox in the Bible, and we’d never get them out.

How you all doin’? I asked.

“It’s crowded in here,” the one on the left–my left, not hers–said in a high-pitched squeak.

What colors do you like?

“Taupe,” said the one on the right.

All right, let me see what I can do for you.


I reached into my bag of tricks–actually, bras–and rummaged around for a bit.

I think I may have the answer, I said.

“What?” the three of them–the woman and her breasts–all said with a breathless tone of optimism.

It’s called a balconette ’cause it looks like a balcony.

“What’s that?” the one on the left asked.

It’s a bra with cups cut in a way that reveal more of the top and inner parts of the breasts.  It could give you guys some breathing room.

The conferred among themselves for a moment, the woman said she didn’t think it was very professional-looking, the one on the right said oh come on, this isn’t the fifties, everyone’s dressing more casually these days.

“All right,” the woman said finally, and although she still had a look of hesitation on her face, I could tell she was relieved.  I gave her four–white, pink, ecru and black for evening wear.

“We don’t know how to thank you,” said the one on the right.

Just doin’ my job, I said with the modest aw-shucks demeanor we bra-pokes are known for.  Hey, I know what you can do for me, I said.

“What?” the one on the left asked.

Do you know any Shakespeare?

They looked at each other, then up to their owner.

“A little–why?” she asked.

I been hankerin’ to use this joke for a long time.

“What joke?”

You guys are like a balcony you could do Romeo and Juliet from.

Ask Consuela, Your Love Chaperone

Dear Ones–

The waters of romance are treacherous seas. Consuela is prepared, once again, to serve as your chaperone through the shoals and eddies of love’s tempestuous currents. Here are the distress signals she received this month:

Consuela *sigh*

Dear Consuela–

I have been seeing a very “special” man–a sales representative for a large frozen food company–for several months now. We have become so close that I recently felt comfortable enough to go to the bathroom at his apartment. When I had closed the door behind me, I felt an irresistible urge to look inside his medicine cabinet–don’t ask me why! Anyway, I discovered to my dismay that it was chock full of mini soaps and shampoo bottles that he has presumably collected from his travels around the country. Consuela–is it right for him to take these little beauty products from hotels and motels? I think this reveals a defect in his character that I am uncomfortable with. Shouldn’t he at least turn them over to his company?

Margaret Alice Cummings, Chicopee, Mass.

Dearest Margaret Alice–

The “rules of the road” permit hotel guests to take toiletries that they have sampled when they go, as long as they pay their bills in full. I’d say your “beau” is the thrifty sort, and a good marriage prospect. Catch him while you can!

My dearest Consuela–

I graduated last spring from a school of mortuary science and am back in my home town hoping to catch on with one of the local funeral parlors. My mother recently assisted me in my quest for a job by inviting Mr. and Mrs. Claude Muckerman, co-owners and funeral directors at Muckerman’s Funeral Home, to dinner along with my brother Clell and me.

Consuela, for reasons I do not want to go into in a newspaper column my nickname when I was a little girl was “Doody.” Anyway, halfway through dinner when I thought I was making a good impression, Clell up and says “Hey Doody–can you pass me the three-bean salad?” which started off a big to-do about how I got my name, etc.

I was mortified, and there are only two other funeral homes in town. How can I prevent my brother from embarrassing me again?

Nae Ann Pfeiffer, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Dear Nae Ann–

“Pleasant in public, pointed in private” is my motto. If I were you, I would stop Clell before he even gets started next time by saying “Clell, I am a professional woman now and I would appreciate it we could speak of something else at this particular juncture.” I have discovered that most people appreciate this sort of candor, and will moderate their behavior accordingly. If that doesn’t work, take him aside afterwards and say “Listen, you little _______. The next time you say something like that in front of company I’m going to rip off your _______ and hit you with the bloody stump of it–got it?” I have found that this can also be effective.


I work at an insurance company where I sit right near the copier and printer. Sometimes if somebody else prints something out and I see it laying (lying?) there in the tray, I will pick it up and take it to them.

Last week a nice young fellow who just started with us as a claims adjuster sent something to the printer that was coming out ahead of an endorsement on a homeowner’s policy I needed. I turned it over–and it was a poem! My heart leapt up as this is also my secret passion.

Anyway, I delivered it to him very discreetly and haven’t mentioned a thing about it, but I feel a yearning need to communicate with him, soul-to-soul. I have written the following, and am thinking of sharing it with him:

Whither thou goest, thither goest I.
Where ‘er thou wanderest, Wander also I.
‘Neath grey skies and blue (the color of my eyes!)
Yadda yadda yadda Something something prize (?)

As you can see, I am stuck on the last two lines. I would like to work “zither” in there somewhere, but can’t think of a way how to. Any suggestions you can give me would be appreciated.

Sue Ann Winkle, Paducah, Kentucky

My Dear Sue Ann–

Such a lovely poem, and just like your crush on your office mate, at present it is incomplete! Here is something I thought of off the top of my head apropos of your “sky” imagery:

In the west, at sunset,
the sky turns to red–
Don’t get your meat
where you get your bread.

There’s a little “truth” in my work of “art,” if you catch my drift.

Dear Consuela:

I went through grades K to 12 with a boy whom I will call “Nelson.” He never showed any interest in me the whole time and the feeling was mutual. After we graduated I lost track of him until last Friday night, when I stopped in the Quiki-Mart out on the interstate for a Royal Crown Cola and he took me hostage as I came out the door.

We went back to his parents’ house and they were gone crappie fishing so I had to spend the whole weekend alone with him. He treated me pretty well, although I got tired of hot dogs and Hungry Man dinners. I didn’t have anything lined up for Saturday night, so I figured it wasn’t a total loss.

When his parents got back on Sunday they found out what had happened and called the sheriff. ”Nelson” is probably looking at ten years at the Neosho County Medium Security Prison, which isn’t a bad place but if you had a choice you’d live somewhere else.

Anyway, I’m thinking I don’t have that many prospects in this town and maybe I shouldn’t testify against him. There’s Furman Morton whose dad owns the Chevy dealership, but I would have to pry Linda Dickman off of him with the Jaws of Life, and I don’t work for the Highway Patrol.

What would you do?

Sally S. Montgomery, Hoxie, Arkansas

Why Sally–what a wonderful story! Love finds us in the most unusual places, and you are to be congratulated for making lemons into lemon meringue pie!

My suggestion? Marry “Nelson” quickly, as most courts will not allow a wife to testify against her husband! And may you have many years of connubial bliss thereafter!

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

At the James Joyce Piggly-Wiggly

VERSAILLES, Mo. Lemoyne Green’s family has been in the grocery business in this town in south central Missouri, pronounced “ver-SALES,” going back four generations. “I guess you could say food is in our blood,” Lemoyne says with a barely-detectible trace of irony. “I know when I give blood they always give me a couple of fig newtons to eat, and that’s something we sell over in Aisle 6, Cookies, Snacks and Syrups.”

Green’s Piggly Wiggly


Lemoyne had hoped to break away from his small town roots, earning bachelors and masters degrees in English at the University of Iowa before “hitting a wall” when it came time to write the required dissertation for his Ph. D. “You go into the library every morning and look at all the little 3 by 5 note cards you’ve filled out, and you just get a pit in your stomach,” he recalls with apparent anxiety.

Storm clouds a brewin’


So Lemoyne returned to his home town with more education than he needed to run a grocery store, but less time to ponder the deep subject he’d specialized in: the difficult “stream-of-consciousness” prose of James Joyce, author of “Finnegans Wake,” the work ranked #1 on the Modern Language Association’s list of “Books People Lie About Having Read.”

Royal Theatre, downtown Versailles


“It wasn’t easy making the adjustment at first,” Lemoyne says, “then I decided to incorporate what I’d learned into our customer’s shopping experience.” His first step in splicing the two strands of his existence was to change the motto of the business–”Quality, Value, Selection”–which had been printed on the store’s bags since the 1880′s. “That’s fine, but very superficial and not at all subversive, which is the hallmark of Joyce’s writing,” Green notes. He changed the logo to read “Silence, Exile and Cunning,” the tools used by Stephen Dedalus in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” to express himself as wholly and freely as he can.

James Joyce: “In Aisle 3 would you brighthearted find Count the Chocula.”


Customers didn’t complain about the change, emboldening Green to go further. Promotional announcements over the store’s public address system began to take on a meandering, modernist aspect reminiscent of Joyce’s “Ulysses”:

“In Aisle 4 the hungry come that man eft seeking yogurt fruit with on bottom, ywimpled to Delores the express lane clerk that her have a nice day levin leaping lightens his load.”

Townspeople slowly detected the shift from the mundane to the highbrow, and began to ask about it at the store’s checkout lanes. “It’s about James Joyce,” Mona Morton, a gum-chewing twenty-something with a Harley Davidson tattoo on her bicep says in reply to a question from Bob Visbeck, a farm implements dealer.

Jim Joyce, umpire: “A way a lone at last to the showers you commodius vicus bum!”


“Jim Joyce, the former major league baseball umpire?” Visbeck asks.

“Naw, he wrote a book or sumpin’. Do you have any coupons to redeem?”

“Bleep it says if food she scans blonk it honks if need to price check Aisle 5.”


By the end of March Green hopes to have his entire workforce trained in the nuances of Joyce’s peculiar tongue, even down to his teenaged baggers. “I’ve been workin’ overtime with Duane Merken here,” Green says to this reporter. “Go ahead and show him your stuff,” he says to the boy, who takes a deep breath before speaking to a woman whose purchases crowd the conveyor belt and are held back by only a slim, plastic baton.

“Paper plastic plastic paper,” the boy begins. “By minivan along State Fair Road or on South Limit is it parked. You have chicken livers, Wet Ones and a pack of fags, good no good for you remember no tip no tipping yes I have girlfriend yes know your daughter not in Old Testament way she has eczema right?”


Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Dead Writers Make More Money.”

My Cat, Unregistered Investment Advisor

An orange tabby cat beat professionals in a stock-picking competition.  He made his selections by throwing his favorite toy mouse on a grid of numbers allocated to different companies.

                                                         The Guardian


I’m “working” from home today, and as I lay down to take the first of my two scheduled naps I noticed Rocco, our tuxedo male cat, standing with his paws on my computer keyboard.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Just checking a few stocks in European markets,” he said.  He’s always been a bright cat, but I had no idea he’d opened up an on-line brokerage account.

“Sell Amalgamated Wolfram!”


“You’re not fooling around with my money, are you?”

“You?  Please.  Gimme a break.  Don’t they call security when you walk into Charles Schwab?”

I’m not a high-roller like some of our friends, who like to brag about how much money they make day-trading.  Nope, I’m the tortoise to their hare; diversification of risk, buy mutual funds and stay away from individual stocks, walk slowly and always wear your cartilaginous shell when you go outside.  Still, I know a little about investing.

“No they do not,” I said defensively.

“I know, that was unfair,” Rocco said as he tapped in the Euroclear symbol for General Electric.  “They ask you to go around back to the service entrance.”

“I’m overweighted in large caps.  Also in my hindquarters.”


“Har-de-har-har, so funny I forgot to laugh,” I said.  “Whose money are you playing with, by the way?”

“My own,” he said.

“And where did you get it?”

“If you ever read anything besides The Boston Herald, the comics in the Boston Globe . . .”

“Made famous by Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes when he said ‘What kind of newspaper puts the funnies on the front page?’”

“On the nosey.  And the New York Times Book Review, you would have noticed that I’ve been winning stock-picking contests with impressive regularity.”

“My cat’s smarter than your broker.”


“You mean you’re beating the self-promoting do-bees who expose themselves to public ridicule . . .”

“And the obloquy of all right-thinking men . . .”

” . . . by entering Future Brokers competitions?”

“You got it.  I’ve attracted quite a following in our sleepy little burb.”

I should have known.  Everybody wants to beat the market and bragging rights for best-performing portfolio–and try saying that five times fast–are highly coveted in playgrounds of the idle rich.

“You can have the Business Section when I’m through.”


“So what do you look for in a stock these days?” I asked, not that I was going to switch to active management of my portfolio anytime soon.

“Well,” Rocco said, stepping away from the computer for a moment and gazing out the window to literally take the long view while he figuratively did so.  “I try to toss my mouse up high–that way it can land on a larger number of publicly-traded companies.”

I was silent for a moment, waiting to see if he was pulling my leg.  When he turned back to the screen, I knew he wasn’t kidding.  “You’re taking money from our friends and neighbors . . .”

“They’re all accredited investors . . .”

“. . . and picking stocks based on where your stupid felt mouse lands?”

“You got a better system?”

I had to admit I didn’t.  Because of my innate cheapness–“Chapman” is derived from the Middle English “cheapman,” an itinerant salesman–I try to pick stocks whose price is unfairly deflated by trivial events of passing significance, such as natural disasters, bankruptcy and massive internal fraud.  This strategy–known as “catching a falling knife”–has caused me massive bleeding in my portfolio.

“Well, no,” I said.  “Still–throwing a mouse?”

“Hey–I use the best and most recent information available.  The print edition of The Wall Street Journal.”

“Those are yesterday’s papers, you dingbat.”

“P/E ratios are totally out of whack!”


“You need to take the long view,” he said, turning back to check the Hang Seng Index.

“I agree, but my attention span is slightly longer than a common housecat’s.”

He whirled his head around as if he’d heard a coyote.  “Who you callin’ common?” he snapped.

“Oh please.  You don’t seriously expect me to believe that you’re beating the Dow Jones and the Russell 2000 merely by your skill at throwing a stuffed felt toy, are you?”

“Of course not,” he said blandly.  “I use performance-enhancing drugs as well.”


“No, dubo.  That mouse is full of catnip.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

My Stigmata

It happened last night. My wife and I were out to dinner with Sally and Jeff, two of our oldest friends, when my stigmata started acting up. At first I was able to hide it, concealing my bleeding hands beneath a maroon table napkin, but then Sally noticed a growing red stain on my shirt where, as they say in the old spiritual, they pierced him in the side.


“What’s that?” she said as I tried to pull my blazer over the blood.

“That? Oh, I guess I must have spilled my malbec—I’m such a klutz.”

“You’re drinking beer,” Jeff said, and I was stuck. Thankfully, my better half sprang to my defense.

“It’s a medical condition,” she said with a tilt of her head that suggested to the other couple that I wasn’t the easiest guy in the world to live with.

“What is it?” Sally asked with an aspect of sincere concern.

“Stigmata,” I said as I stared down at my Caesar salad. I don’t like talking about myself.


“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to salad . . .”


“But you have your glasses on,” Jeff said.

“Not astigmatism . . . stigmata,” my wife said.

“It’s kind of a skin condition,” I said, trying to take the conversational helm so I could steer it towards calmer waters. “Hey–how ’bout those Celtics?”

But Sally didn’t let Jeff take the bait. “Don’t you think you should tie a tourniquet or something?” she asked as I bled profusely from the points where Jesus was wounded during his crucifixion.

“I’m fine,” I said. “It will run its course.”

“Are you on medication?” Jeff asked. He’s the kind of guy who thinks there’s a modern, scientific cure for everything. Hate to tell him, but the irrational is way underrated.

“No—there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“It’s a condition he’ll have to live with the rest of life,” my wife added.

“How did you get it?”


“Well,” I began, “in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have been such an avid student of the Baltimore Catechism.”

“A bunch of Catholic hocus-pocus gave you a skin condition?” Jeff asked, incredulous.

“I . . . uh . . . probably studied a little too hard,” I continued. “I won highest catechism score three years in a row. I got a little plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary every year.”

“Was there something in the plastic?” Sally asked.

“No, nothing like that. It’s just that, it laid the foundation for miraculous manifestations when I subsequently saved a guy’s life.”

“Were you a lifeguard?” Jeff asked.

“I was, so I learned mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but I didn’t use it on some chlorine-bleached blonde in a tank suit.”

“Thank God!” my wife interjected, trying to lighten the mood a little.

“Instead, it was a junkie choking on his own vomit.”

“Eww!” the two women said together, instinctually.

“Weren’t you worried you’d . . . get something?” Jeff asked.

“This was before AIDS. I didn’t think twice. I’d had all these First Aid lessons, finally somebody was giving me an opportunity to use them!”

The other three fell silent for a moment. The waiter came, cleared the salad plates and asked if we’d like another round of wine.

“YES!” the other three said in unison. I didn’t think the story was that gory.

“So—the guy lived?” Jeff asked tentatively.

“Yep. The EMTs said it was a miracle. So I had the catechism statues and a genuine bona fide miracle to my credit. I was on the fast track to heaven, and eventually sainthood.”

“If there are any Protestants watching tonight, we’re having a one-time Come to Jesus Special!”


“Wow,” Sally said. She just got tenure at a local college, and thus appreciates independent third-party validation of one’s accomplishments. “But—I thought you had to have three miracles to become a saint.” That’s what the Eternal Word Television Network has accomplished in the three decades it’s been in existence; put recondite dogma of the Roman Catholic Church just a click of the remote away from suburban Protestant infidels whose “ministers” allow them to take the entire summer off from church attendance!

“Two or three is standard, it’s up to the Pope,” I said, trying hard not to sound like a know-it-all. “But anyway, I was fine until last summer, when I saved another life.”

“Not another junkie, I hope,” Jeff said as he took a gulp of his cabernet. He’s usually a fastidious drinker, savoring the bouquet, the legs, the nose—the entire mystical body of his wine. I guess my story had him agitated.

“So what happened?” Sally asked, a bit breathlessly I might add.

“This kid was walking along, listening to music on his iPhone, earbuds firmly in place. He looked to his right, saw nothing, and stepped off the curb. What he didn’t see was a truck backing up from the other direction. The driver was looking over his right shoulder, and the kid was in his blind spot.”

“So what did you do?” Sally asked.

“I yelled as loud as I could—the truck driver heard me and slammed on the brakes.”

“How about the kid?” Jeff asked.

“Just kept on walking,” I said, to knowing looks and bobbing heads all around, as we are all parents of teenaged boys.


St. Catherine of Siena, listening to Breviary on Tape


“And ever since he’s had this . . . condition,” my wife said, as the entrees were placed in front of us.

“You’re in distinguished company,” the swarthy waiter with the big pepper mill said.

“Like Lou Gehrig getting Lou Gehrig’s Disease?” Jeff asked.

“You got St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Theresa of Avila, Saint Catherine of Siena—all had stigmata!”

“Wow!” Sally said. “That’s pretty impressive.”

“Still,” I said, “it can be very embarrassing in social situations—like this.”

“Isn’t there any way you can stop the bleeding?”

“Just one,” the waiter said with a knowing look. “If you think impure thoughts, the bleeding stops.”

“So . . . if he thinks of what we might be doing later tonight,” my wife began, but the waiter cut her off.

“No, madame. It is impossible to sin by thinking of having sex with one’s lawfully married spouse. He must think of someone else’s spouse.”

“Like me?” Sally asked helpfully.

“Yes, madame. Enjoy your dinners.”

After the waiter departed, there was a moment of uncomfortable silence. After poking his grouper a few times, Jeff spoke in a magnanimous tone, like the celebrity auctioneer at a gala charity benefit.

“Well, you know, it’s . . . uh . . . all right with me if you think impure thoughts about Sally,” he said. He looked at her, she looked at him—then he gave her hand a little squeeze.

I turned to look at my wife, afraid of what I’d see, but instead of eyelids narrowed to grim little slits, I saw a look of . . . love . . . and compassion.

“I’m there for you sweetie,” she said as she grabbed my blood-stained hand. “Go ahead—think anything you want—if it’ll help you control this awful disease . . .”

“It’s not a disease,” I interjected.

Bagnell Dam: *sniff*


“Condition,” she said softly. I could see tears welling up in her eyes that she fought hard to control, like Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, after a heavy spring rain.

I looked at Sally, and she looked back at me with a smile. “Please,” she said with a therapeutic tone in her voice. “Go ahead—think of me what you will.”

Let me just say that I’m no saint. I have fantasies about women other than my wife—but not my wife’s friends. There’s just something—incestuous about the thought of relations within our social circle. As for Sally, she’s one woman I dearly love to talk to; interesting, educated, articulate—so no knock against her personally either. It’s just that—I couldn’t get it up for her, mentally speaking.

“Well, come on you two—get it on,” Jeff said as he stuffed a forkful of potatoes in his mouth. “If you don’t hurry up, our table is going to be drenched in blood before we get the dessert menus.”

“We are almost out of zee lemon-scented Pledge, monsieur!”


I tried everything; French maid, naughty meter reader, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, librarians on ice. Nothing worked. I could tell that Sally was a little hurt.

“Isn’t there some image of me in your mind you could find the least little bit sexy?” she asked finally, biting her lower lip.

And then it happened. Mirabile dictu—the bleeding stopped!

“How’d you do it?” my wife asked, amazed.

“What was it—stern Registry of Motor Vehicles clerk? D-cup dental hygienist?” Jeff asked with excitement.

“C’mon, ‘fess up—you at least owe it to me,” Sally said.


I gulped, then swallowed. It was time for confession. “To you, Sister Sally of the Talbots Skirt-and-Sweater Set—I offer my most passionate devotion.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Fun With Nuns.”