At the Viking Poetry Slam

          A mastery of poetry was a must for any young Viking.  A few Viking poems dwelt on love, but the heroes often undermined their happiness by chasing adventures that separated them from their beloveds. 

                                     The Wall Street Journal


“Who’s got the beer cooler?”

It’s 1230, and I don’t mean by the hands of the sundial.  I mean it’s 1230 A.D., and me and my buddies, Gunnlaug Snaketongue and Hallfred the Troublesome Poet, are having our regular Friday night poetry session.  We meet at Ericson’s, where they have 20 ounce King Olaf’s for only a clam, and pitchers for five clams.  Let me tell you, we usually set back the progress of Western civilization a couple of decades before the night is through.


Ericson’s:  Get there early for Friday Night Oxen Races.

We roll the bar dice to see who goes first, which is actually not the most desirable spot.  It’s better if your listeners have consumed a little mead before you start to bare the workings of your innermost soul.  Unfortunately, I roll snake-eyes.

“You go first Kormak Ogmundarson!” Hallfred says with glee.  I can tell he’s going to pounce on my handiwork like a blood eagle grabbing a baby chick.

“Okay, here goes nothing,” I say.  I take one last drink to wet my throat, then I launch the Viking ship of my verse onto unknown seas.

That night I dreamt of a maiden fair
whose dress I removed with a flourish.
What I saw underneath was a navel and hair
but a body that looked overnourished.

I looked up from my rudimentary parchment note pad to judge the effect of my quatrain on Gunnlaug and Hallfred.  “You say overnourished like it’s a bad thing, dude,” Gunnlaug says with a look of disapproval.

“But wait,” I say, anticipating twentieth-century cable TV pitchman Billy Mays, “there’s more.”


“There’s more bad poetry where that came from!”

“Let ‘er rip,” Hallfred says as he unleashes a belch that could be heard in Vinland.

“Okay,” I say, then compose myself and start in again.

She could have been my winter consort
if I’d paid more attention to her
But I was consumed by televised sport
and another Vike came to woo her.



Vinland, via the scenic route

I’m surprised to see a look of empathy on Gunnlaug’s face.  “That’s beautiful, man,” he says as he pretends there’s something in his eye in order to hide the fact that he’s wiping away a tear.  “Ain’t that always the way.  You’d like to have a relationship with a woman, but you want some freaking adventure with your guy friends, too.”

Hallfred, on the other hand, being the Troublesome Poet that he is, is unmoved.  “What the hell are televised sports?” he asks.

“It’s an anachronism I threw in for dramatic effect,” I say.  “This is a stupid blog post–you’re going to have to wilfully suspend disbelief if you’re going to get anything out of it.”

He takes this in slowly, and mutters a grudging “Okay–that was pretty good.”  He’s not the brightest shield on the battlefield, if you know what I mean, but he leaves a pretty wide wake at poetry slams because of his brooding good looks and primitive style.  Personally, I think it’s all a facade.  He’s so dumb his descendants will be going bare-chested to football games in Minnesota winters seven centuries hence.

“Show me what you got, big fella,“ I say to him throwing down the poetic gauntlet.

He pops a handful of squirrel nuts into his mouth, and washes them down with a gulp of beer.  “Here goes,” he says, and begins:

My old lady’s quite a dish
if I do say so myself.
She don’t come along when I icefish,
she eats tuna from the pantry shelf.

Gunnlaug emits a tepid grunt of approval.  “I sense the difference between your maleness and her femaleness,” he says looking off into the distance, “but you didn’t do much to establish a dramatic tension.”

It’s clear that Hallfred is hurt by this faint praise, and he lashes out, bringing his pickaxe down on the bag of Astrix and Obelix Pub Fries that Gunnlaug’s been munching on.  “Anybody can be a critic,” he fumes.  “Let’s hear some poetry out of you, blubber-belly!”

“Well kiss my ass and call it a love story,” Gunnlaug says with a withering smile.  “Looks like Mr. Brutalist has a sensitive side, too.”

“Your doggerel smells like two-year-old Swedish Fish.”

“Actually,” I interject in an effort to keep the peace, “Swedish Fish stay moist and chewy forever in the patented Sta-Fresh resealable bag.”

But Hallfred isn’t letting his rival go.  “Come on, man,” he says angrily, as other patrons turn their heads in the hope of seeing a senseless killing.  “It’s Rhyme Time.”

Gunnlaug looks Hallfred up and down, then a frosty snort of Arctic air escapes from his nostrils.  “It ain’t bragging if you can do it,” he says, then clears his throat.  The silence in the room is broken only when he speaks in a low voice steeped in regret:

I once got a peek of a wench’s breasts
that made me forget I was a Viking.
I’m telling you man, they were the best–
I gave up my Harley and biking.

An audible gasp rose from the crowd.  The ultimate aesthetic error of Viking poetry–to succumb to the wiles of a woman!  How was Gunnlaug going to get out of the lyrical gulag he’d wandered into?

She had a big hat with horns festooned
and said “Dear Vike, please impale me.”
But a friend had some tickets to the Wild vs. Bruins
“Stay with me,” she cried, “and don’t fail me!”

Now it was Hallfred’s turn to snort.  “The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole,” he said with a sneer, “is to stop digging.”

“Hold your freaking reindeer,” Gunnlaug said.  “I ain’t through.”

He took a deep breath, then began again.

I looked in her eyes, both drowning in tears–
Though watery, they still looked nice.
“Look,” I said, “I’ll make it up to you dear–
I’ll take you to Smurfs on Ice!”

Available in print and Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection poetry is kind of important.

Ask Mr. Buffet

Ticked off because your favorite smorgasbord ran out of potato salad?  Wondering what the gunk is on the sneeze shield at your local salad bar?  Mr. Buffet’s got your back–he’s in line right behind you!

buffet

Hey there, Mr. Buffet–

Got a quick question for you.  I am a regular at the Hopalong Cassidy $20 All-You-Can-Eat Buffet every Thursday night on South 65.  Last week they had those St. Louis-style spare ribs that I love, so I was piling my plate high.  When I went back for my ninth–or maybe it was tenth–time through the line Ray Lee Dixon–he is the owner–jumps in front of me and says you’ve had enough go home.

Naturally, I responded by pointing to the sign that said “All you can eat,” but Ray Lee didn’t budge an inch.  “That’s right,” he said, and none too cheerfully, either.  “You been through plenty already, and that’s all you can eat for twenty bucks.  Now leave or I’m calling the Highway Patrol.”  We were out on the Interstate, so they had jurisdiction.

Mr. Buffet I don’t want to split hairs but I don’t think that’s the right way to interpret the phrase “All you can eat.”  Is there some sort of expert like they used to have on quiz shows who can hand down a binding decision on this point?

Darrell Sher, Tula, Mississippi

buffet1

Dear Darrell–

Happily, you are both right.  “All you can eat” in one sense means “all that a particular person can eat,” but viewed from the perspective of the hard-working restaurateurs of America, there has to be a limit.  The National Association of Buffet-Style Common Victuallers defines “all you can eat” as “all that can be eaten by a patron without contributing to the already high failure rate of buffet-style restaurants in America.”  Why don’t you try to “make amends” with Mr. Dixon by visiting his restaurant on a non-buffet night and order your meal a la carte, which is French for “Don’t be such a cheap bastard.”

buffet2
“I was nowhere near eating all I could eat.”

 

Dear Mr. Buffet–

I am getting married in June and am trying to lose some weight so I can fit into my bridal gown.  My “game plan” is to eat lunch every day at the ‘Gelded Unicorn’ natural food buffet restaurant near where I work because the food is terrible and good for you, too.

Yesterday I scooped some brown stuff into my Styrofoam carton, it looked like hummus but I couldn’t be sure.  Well, I took one bite and nearly threw up so I walked it back to the buffet and slid it onto the steam table again and replaced it with carrot-and-raisin salad.

Then this crunchy granola type girl came over, she was wearing a peasant dress and had granny glasses and I swear to God had actual chin hair even though she couldn’t have been more than 25.  She was all hot and bothered and said you can’t put food back, now we have to re-weigh you and check you out again.

I told her I was deathly allergic to whatever the stuff was and she said “Okay–what was it?”  I said how the hell was I supposed to know, it looked like garbanzo beans which make me break out in hives.  I was lying a little so I reached up and scratched my neck to make it red.

Mr. Buffet, I have now been placed on a “Do Not Serve” list and can be “banned for life” in the sole and absolute discretion of the management, according to a written warning I was given.

I was just wondering–isn’t this whole thing going to be thrown out of court because they didn’t read me the warning you always hear on the TV cop shows?

Colleen Floyd, Chillicothe, Ohio

 

Dear Colleen:

I am afraid that the “Miranda” warning only applies to criminal activities, and replacing food in an aluminum steam table tray is only a civil offense thanks to “de-criminalization,” which has released hundreds of potentially dangerous recidivists back onto our streets to wreak havoc.  All I can say is, thank your lucky stars you didn’t try to take back a stuffed grape leaf after you’d bit into it!

buffet3

Dear Mr. Buffet–

I go to the lunch buffet over at the Happy Panda Luck Joy restaurant, don’t know if you’ve ever been there, it’s over by the old railroad shops.  Anyway, I ate a bunch of the shrimp lo mein there the other day and right away I wasn’t feeling so good.  I went to the men’s room and threw the whole thing up, then had to go straight home and missed out on four hours work which would have put me into time-and-a-half overtime.  That’s a lot of money.

Two days later when I was feeling a little better I went back to Happy Panda Luck Joy and asked for my $8.99 back, but the owner said no, it wasn’t his fault.  Why not? I asked and he said “I no serve you, you serve self, that whole point of buffet.”  That’s how he talks, I’m not making it up or being racist or anything.

Mr. Buffet, I don’t want to start an international incident what with how aggressive China is getting and how our military is depleted after eight years of self-imposed disarmament under Obama, but I would like some of my money back.  I have a room air conditioner on layaway and it will be summer soon.

Thanks a lot,

R.G. “Bud” Withers, Knob Noster MO

 

Dear “Bud”–

Why don’t you call our official Ambassador the United Nations, it is a woman now but I’ve seen her on TV, she looks pretty tough.  You may want to start putting away some of your salary to get that air conditioner out of layaway, however, because any resolution to reimburse a U.S. citizen for buffet-related losses has to pass the Security Council, and China has a veto.

The Taliban Painted My Living Room

When I heard the news that the Pakistani army had captured Muslim Khan, a top commander of the Taliban, I was overcome by a simultaneous sense of shock and relief.  “That’s him,” I screamed at the TV set overhead in the bar where I was having a drink.


Muslim Khan:  “It took longer than I expected because your depraved Western children were always underfoot!”

 

“The guy who’s the spokesman for Tehreek-E-Taliban?” Smitty, the bartender asked as he dried an Old Fashioned glass.

“That’s the one,” I replied.

“You know,” Smitty continued, “he’s also the leader of the TTP Swat’s negotiating team in talks with the provincial government of the Awami National Party.”  Boston bartenders are like that–knowledgeable, thorough, almost cocky in the amount of information they have at the tips of their tongues.

“Not only that,” I said, my eyes glued to the set, ”he painted my living room.”


Reggie Lewis

 

A hush fell over the room, a stillness I hadn’t heard in a Boston watering hole since Reggie Lewis collapsed during a 1993 Celtics playoff game against the Charlotte Hornets.

“You mean,” the guy to my right began slowly, “the same Taliban who blew up the Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan?”


Explosion of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan

 

“The same,” I said, taking a sip of my Sam Adams Lightship beer.

“Did they blow up anything of yours?” an attractive blonde asked, suddenly interested in me now that I was linked with the international war on terrorism.

“No, for the most part my wife doesn’t decorate with un-Islamic graven images,” I said, making it clear–in my own subtle way–that I was spoken for.  “We certainly didn’t have any little Buddha statues around.”


Ix-nay on the uddha-Bay

 

“Tell me more,” she persisted.

“I’m not sure how much I can tell you since much of what we learned during the paint job is still classified,” I began.  “Still, my tongue has been loosened by the effects of alcohol, so I might as well continue.”

I grabbed some loose mixed nuts to sustain myself–a big risk with swine flu going around at the time, but I like to live dangerously.  “It was the late 1990′s–the Taliban had decided to focus on interior decoration as the way to bring down the Great American Satan.”

“Khan became a housepainter in the western suburbs of Boston, where we lived,” I continued.

“Why was that?” the bartender asked.

“Because I worked in Boston,” I answered.

“No, not why did you live there, why did he become a painter?” the bartender continued.

“I think because he didn’t like to clean gutters,” I said.  “Painting the interiors of Colonial-style suburban homes may be boring, but at least you don’t risk falling off ladders.”

“And yet our image of the Taliban is that they’re fierce warriors,” a flamboyantly dressed investment banker to my left said.

“That’s what they want you to think,” I explained patiently.  “Historically, they and their ancestors have been capable of intense short-term bursts of fighting, but they’re not well-suited for protracted battles.”

The bartender tossed me a complimentary bag of Beer Nuts, the snack food with the unique “sweet ‘n salty” taste.  “Thanks, Smitty,” I said.  “Anyway, maybe we were naive dupes–I don’t know.  Khan came in with the low bid, and he promised to finish the job in one week.  Everybody else said it would take two.”

“It’s hard to find good painters,” the blonde said.  “I know what you must have been going through.”

“Our kids were young–the house was always in an uproar anyway,” I explained.  “We didn’t want to make it any worse.”

“So–did you talk to the guy?” the investment banker asked.  I had to savor the moment; it isn’t often I can impress a guy who makes five times what I do.

“For the most part I leave communications with tradesmen, contractors and international terrorist organizations to my wife,” I explained.

housewife
“Yoo-hoo, Mr. Taliban!  You missed a spot.”

 

“You’re gone all day, right?” the bartender asked.  “When you get home you just want to play with the kids.”

“Exactly,” I said.  “So all my exchanges with him were very perfunctory.  How are the wives, how are the kids, how ’bout those Red Sox.  Still, as a precaution, I always record my conversations with guys who are on the Treasury Department’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.”

“Just to be sure,” the blonde said, nodding her head.


Mid-’90′s Red Sox torture

 

“Yes, even though it’s illegal in Massachusetts to tape someone without their consent, I wanted to do my part in the War on Terror.”

“Do you–have the tape with you?” the investment banker asked, curious.

I glared at the guy.  “You think I’d ever let it out of my sight?” I asked, incredulous.

“Well, no, I . . . uh, just, uh,” he stammered.  “Do you think we could listen to some of it?”

I eyed the four of them–Smitty, the blonde, the banker and the one whom everyone knew only as “the guy to my right.”  I sized them all up.  “Do you promise that none of you will use what you are about to hear against the United States of America, so help you God?”

“Promise,” the blond said.

“Swear on a stack of bibles,” Smitty said.

“Cross my heart and hope to die, boil in oil and stew in lye,” the guy to my right said.

I looked at the investment banker.  “Can I use it to make money by shorting stocks or making investments in defense-related industries?” he asked tentatively.

I thought about it for a moment.  I remembered what Calvin Coolidge, the only Republican President from Massachusetts, had once said; “The business of America is business.”


Calvin Coolidge

 

“All right,” I said.  “But I get 10% of any short-swing profits or long-term capital gains.”

“Deal,” he said.  I took my pocket tape recorder out of my suitcoat and hit the “Play” button:

ME:  How’s it going?

KHAN:  I put a coat of primer on today, just waiting for it to dry.  Also waiting for the obscene and immoral culture of the West to die.

ME:  (Laughing)  The kids must have been watching Barney the Purple Dinosaur while you worked today, huh?

KHAN:  There is a white western woman in the house all day who does not cover herself.

ME:  You mean my wife?  Yeah, I talked to her about that.  She can’t find a nice burqua at Talbot’s.


Also available in cranberry, oyster and charcoal.

 

KHAN:  She is the source of all my troubles!  Constantly changing colors!

ME:  What do you call that shade you’re mixing now–pink?

KHAN:  It’s actually “Dusty Rose.”

ME:  Just do what she tells you, pal.  I’ve learned that it’s better just to go along to get along with her.

KHAN:  This is why we must establish a world-wide caliphate under Shariah!  You wimpy western husbands!


“Pick up the toys in the driveway–NOW!”

 

ME:  You know what her nickname is?

KHAN:  What?

ME:  “The Ayatollah.”

KHAN:  Really?

ME:  Seriously.

KHAN:  (silent for a moment)  Wow.  So if she wants me to re-do the trim I should . . .

ME:  Just do it.

KHAN:  In the name of Allah?

ME:  No.  In the name of world peace.

Parents Fire College Coach After Losing Season

WELLESLEY FALLS, Mass.  In this wealthy suburb of Boston, parents will go to great lengths to ensure that their children get into a good college, even paying top dollar to “college coaches” who counsel the kids on their essays, SAT preparation, community service choices and overall application strategy.


“You’ve got to completely fill in the little oval with your #2 lead pencil!”

 

“It means so much,” says Marci Hallinan, whose daughter Courtney’s first choice was Mount Holyoke College.  “Get into the right school and someday you’ll be able to buy a $1.3 million starter home,” says the perky blonde who supplements her husband Rick’s income by working as a real estate broker.  “If you don’t, you may end up pushing a grocery cart through the streets picking up deposit cans.”


“If only I’d gone to Tufts!”

 

If Marci’s smile seems a little forced today, it’s because Courtney was not accepted from the “early decision” applicants to the prestigious women’s college, and wasn’t granted “deferred” status to be considered as part of the regular applicant pool, either.  “Flat-out rejected,” says Marci bitterly, and this reporter hears the sound of sobbing floating down from an upstairs bedroom.


“Just go away and leave me to my broken dreams, okay?”

 

The scene was repeated across town as clients of college coach Ron Dilworth received the bad news from Stanford, Harvard, Emory, Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern, among others.  “He got the big goose-egg,” says angry father Todd Dremke, whose son Miles applied early decision to the University of Chicago.  “O for 8.”


“. . . bare ruined choirs where late the dweeb nerds sang.”

 

At a cost of six to eight thousand dollars a child, a college coach can do quite well, but “the only thing that counts is your record,” says Norton Zeligman, who “ran the table” this year, getting his clients into Yale, Oberlin, Vanderbilt and Georgetown.  “I feel sorry for Ron, but that’s the nature of the business.”

accountant
“Your essay should show you’re not just a grade grubber, you’re a well-rounded grade grubber.”

So Dilworth got the bad news this morning.  He’s been sacked, asked to clean out his flash cards, and told that his services won’t be needed next season.  “I don’t think I was given the chance I needed to turn this place around,” he said at a sparsely-attended press conference at the high school guidance office.  “I wish these kids the best of luck.  Given their scores in AP Biology, they’re going to need it.”


“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family, and less with yours.”

 

Dilworth has no job offers at present, but hopes to catch on as a junior college coach in a less-affluent community.  “Some of those schools will take a kid if he fogs a mirror held under his nose and the parents’ check doesn’t bounce,” he noted in his farewell speech.  “Those are my kind of standards.”

Ah Cahn’t Talk Wiff Mah Mouf Full

The dental hygienist rides the train
Into town and then out again.
Her job, in part, is to inflict pain
On those who dental flossing feign.

(Her scrubs this day are the color teal
Perhaps the better to make folks feel
That everything’s ducky, there’s no need to squeal,
Their teeth will be fine by the very next meal.)

The hygienist’s a lass who must inspire cheer
When she sticks her left breast into your ear
And says, as her shiny tools cause you to fear,
“Any changes in your health since you were last here?”

 

(She also has a set that are indigo
Not sure that’s good for the mood, you know
It’s close to blood red, and so although
It’s fine for some girls, on her a no-no.)

She starts to scratch with her sickle scaler,
It’s sharp, the implement never fails her.
Then she shifts to her tartar scraper,
Causing you to shift and succumb to the vapors.

(Some days she wears a Wedgewood blue,
A somewhat reserved and distant hue,
It doesn’t inspire, no good to pitch woo.
That’s okay by me, I don’t know about you.)

She pokes around, and asks if you’re brushin’—
She must have learned torture from Tsarist Russians.
She inquires about your dental history,
Why she needs to know remains a mystery.

You swallow hard, the saliva ejector,
Sucks all the spit that it can detect there,
She looks—mysterious—behind her mask,
You have just one thing that you want to ask.

At length, at last, you’re finally through,
She smiles, and then the spotlight’s on you!
“If you don’t mind, I have one suggestion–
When my mouth is full I can’t answer questions.”

Ode to Barbecue

I do not know what I would do
if it were not for barbecue.
Compare your highbrow mode de caisson
to that which I grew up upon:

bbq

You take one of an unfortunate species
and place it on a sizzling grill,
create a product hot and greasy
and then you eat of it your fill.

When you have tired of rich French sauces,
escargots, pate fois gras,
cast aside cuisine of bosses,
reject le haut and eat la bas.

bbq1

Chickens, pigs and also cows
all make for tasty grilling fare.
For pork, use either boar or sow;
both fill the bill—don’t eat it rare!

You can eat it with your hands
a clear advantage, seems to me.
You find you never need to plan
which fork to use, of two or three.

bbq2

Barbecue is smoked the day long
over grey charcoal briquettes;
attracts a loud and raucous throng
who’re sometimes short on etiquette.

Quixote Bronson, Savior of Neglected Suburban Women

It is Saturday night in the suburbs west of Boston–no better place to view man’s inhumanity to woman. As my partner Pancho Sanza and I drift wearily from one upscale restaurant to another, we see on the looks of the husbands indifference bordering on cruelty as an endless parade of wives drones on about window treatments, children’s grades, spats with girlfriends; the very warp and woof of their existence, but matters inspiring only apathy in their spouses.


“So then Marie says–hey, don’t look at the fish when I’m talking to you!”

 

I–I who have been so unlucky in love with my beloved Dulcinea del Tobasco! I resolved many years ago that if I could not find my soul mate here on earth, I would do whatever I could to make the lives of women locked in loveless marriages more liveable. (So many ‘L’s’ give my tongue a workout–it is in great shape but alas, Dulcinea will not have me under her covers!) Perhaps, you say, I am mixing in affairs that are none of my business. Very well, you are entitled to my opinion, but I am merely trying to make the world a better place for the legions of ladies who agonize over their outfits, spend hours with their hair in foil getting it frosted, arranging for babysitters, only to watch their “lovers”–I use the term with the inverted commas of scorn!–pecking away at “personal digital assistants” under the table.

I have asked my neighbor, Pancho Sanza, to be my squire or “sidekick” as you Americans say in your vulgar, corrupted English. Someone must hold our table while I importune the insensitive clods who look over the shoulders of their chattering wives to see the scores of silly Boston “Red Sox.” I would spit on your televised “sports,” but I–unlike you–have some manners!

We arrive at Tiramisu, a charming but pricey boite de nuit where hedge fund managers and venture capitalists talk loudly of their most lucrative conquests. We hear nothing of the “duds” in their portfolios! I see a table of two, the man gnawing on a breadstick like a dog on a rawhide. From time to time he makes eye contact with his wife and grunts “Unh-huh,” but as soon as she begins to talk again his eye reverts to the bar, where a zaftig wine waitress with thick upper arms and a tattoo on the small of her back–the, how you say, “tramp stamp”–can be seen unscrewing corks from bottles. I decide now is the time to unscrew him!

“Pancho,” I say. “Hold the table.”

“Si Senor Quixote,” he says, tearing the crust off a piece of “homemade” asiago bread. Whose home, I wonder, was it made in?

“If the waitress comes, tell her I will have the pecan-encrusted haddock with asparagus,” I say as I stand up.

“You no want to hear the specials?”


Me and Pancho Sanza

 

“No,” I say firmly. “I am a man who knows what he wants, even if I so rarely get it.”

With that I draw myself up to my full 5′ 10″, and begin to channel the spirt of Charles Bronson, the quintessential tough guy.


Bronson, Ireland, McCallum

 

It was Bronson who, having gotten an eyeful of Jill Ireland, walked up to her husband David McCallum and said, quite bluntly, “I’m going to marry your wife.” This is the improvement that I have added to the method of the chivalrous Knight of La Mancha; an undercurrent of menace, a suggestion that if the man with the wandering eye doesn’t straighten up and fly right, I will simply take his woman away.

I adjust my cape and make a bee-line across the restaurant, startling some of the waitstaff that I bump into. “No one ever saw a bee fly in a straight line,” I say by way of excusing myself.

I present myself at the table so as to block the man’s view of the buxom girl he’s been ogling over his wife’s shoulder. “Excuse me, Senorita,” I say, bowing low.

“I’ll have the Cobb salad and the beef tournedos,” she says, apparently mistaking me for un garcon.


She wants the beef, not the fish.

 

“No, madame, I am not hear to feed your stomach–I am here to feed your soul.”

“But I don’t like fish,” she says, visibly perplexed.

“Perhaps I should explain,” I say. “Your husband has been fantasizing about Sondra, the waitress over at the wine bar, for the past twenty minutes.”

“The one who’s stacked like a lanai on a Hawaiian apartment building?”

“Yes–by her butt crack tatt, ye shall know her.”

The woman–who is known to her friends as “Tori”–snaps her head around to look at her husband.

“Evan–is that true?”


“Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventive dentifrice when used in a conscientiously-applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.”

 

The man is crestfallen, and I’m not talking about the toothpaste. “How would this guy know?” he asks, playing the ingenue, but Tori can tell from his defensive tone that I’ve caught him red-minded.

Senor, I would gladly love and care for your beautiful wife if you no longer wish to do so,” I say, bowing low and working more than a hint of sarcasm into my voice.

Gracias,” Tori says with a smile, warming to the Old World charm that I draw from my overflowing reservoir of chivalry.

The man tries to stare me down with the steely resolve that he likes to use when making a capital call on a balky institutional investor.

“It is up to you,” I say to him. “You can treat her right–or I will take her away from you!”

He blinks, and I know it is over, our little mano a mano tete a tete in Franish italics.

“I–I’m sorry, sweetie,” he says to her, and he almost sounds sincere.

“You have been such of the big help, Senor . . .” Tori says in a misbegotten but deeply appreciated attempt to imitate my fractured Esperanto-like melange of Romance languages.

“You may remember me–and I hope you always will–as Hidalgo Quixote Bronson–Savior of Neglected Suburban Housewives.”

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