My Bossa Nova Years

It is no coincidence that the bossa nova craze coincided with the years in which I achieved my greatest romantic success–first through sixth grades. No music is better suited to inspire thoughts of love than that associated with the Portugese term translated roughly as “the new thing or trend or fashionable wave or something.”

It was perhaps the Fates who decreed it–they have had nothing to do since the demise of the ancient Greeks! I was prepared as no other boy in my elementary school for the coming of the complex harmonies and soft percussive accents of the sound that evolved from the Brazilian samba and swept through the world like a contagion, for I had learned the cha-cha-cha at numerous country club affairs dancing with my younger sister!

I know, this smacks of incest, but we knew “when to say when” when it came to this most ancient and honorable of taboos, having been cautioned by our older sister of the “Hapsburg” lip–the product of inbreeding amoung the royal families of Europe. “You two keep that up,” she said to us sternly when she found us practicing in the front parlor, “you’re going to get underslung jaws like Charles II.”

Charles II, or Margaret Pfeiffer?  You make the call!


One look at the picture of the unfortunate heir to the Spanish crown in her ninth grade biology book was enough to warn us off. “It is time that you took the skills I have conveyed to you,” my sister said, “and go ask Margaret Pfeiffer to dance. She already looks like Charles II.”

The bossa nova craze lasted only six years, but oh what a half-a-dozen it wozen! There were the quiet nights and quiet stars and the quiet chords from my guitar, a rental until I proved to my dad that I was firmly committed to my art and would not lose interest in it, the way I had with the guppies and the rock collection. And baseball and the coin collection.

The British are coming!


It was a race against time; I had to progress from rank novice to sultry-voiced master before bossa nova was obliterated by the British Invasion in 1964. I took guitar lessons from a flatulent local teen who would go on to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. When he was sick, his replacement was the owner of the music studio, a corpulent woman who looked like Patsy Cline without the makeup. And with maybe sixty, seventy extra pounds on her frame.

Patsy Cline


There was the fruitless search for an instructor in Portugese in the small midwestern town where we lived. Every week I would check the Yellow Pages: Plumbers, Porch swings, Printers, Psychologists–nothing. Then turn to “Language Instruction.” English, French, Latin, Moravian, Russian, Spanish–no Portuguesa!

Finally, my picaresque quest–and try saying that five times fast–ended in the ridiculous, not the sublime, as such tales so often do. Trudy Espinosa, the daughter of an Air Force colonel on temporary assignment to install intercontinental ballistic missiles bearing nuclear warheads in silos deep beneath the rich soil of our town, held a party in a temporary teen center for the children of the operatives assigned to this top-secret but widely-known assignment. Located in a double-wide trailer, los cento de teenos was gaily decorated with crepe paper and Japanese lanterns, but I–I had already given my heart to Martha Strep!

Teen center fun!


A bossa nova singer cannot woo two women at once–the fingering on the guitar is too complex, and the side-to-side movement of the head as you croon to two inamoratas aggravated the whiplash injury that I had sustained in Pop Warner football practice.

I stood up, vanquished by the CMaj7 chord. “Trudy,” I said sadly, “I am sorry–I already have a girl from Ipanema.”

“Who is she?” Trudy demanded, her eyes beginning to redden, the storm clouds that announced a torrent of tears was on its way. It was, after all, her party, and she could cry if she wanted to.

Just then Martha Strep passed, and when she passed, I couldn’t help but go . . . ah.

I blame it on the bossa nova–with its magic spell.

Don’t Come Home From Book Group With Lovin’ on Your Mind

(with apologies to Loretta Lynn)

Image result for don't come home from drinkin with lovin on your mind

Well you thought I’d be waitin’ up when you came home last night
You’d been out with all the girls and you ended up half tight.
But books and chardonnay don’t mix, leave a bottle or me behind
And don’t come home from book group with lovin’ on your mind.

Image result for book group

No don’t come from book group with lovin’ on your mind.
Keep talkin’ about your novel and suckin’ down your wine.
When you gals read that chick lit it don’t improve your minds,
So don’t come home from book group with lovin’ on your mind.

Image result for book group

You’re never home, you’re always gone, readin’ bodice rippers.
Many’s the night I’ve laid awake, yearnin’ for your nippers.
But you come in too drunk for love, it happens every time
No don’t come home from book group—with lovin’ on your mind.

Juan Jose Guiraldes, Boston Jaywalking Cop

BOSTON. This city, often referred to as the “Athens of America,” sometimes by non-residents, is famous for many things; the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, the first use of ether to remove a tooth, the first three-point basket in NBA history by Chris Ford.

First use of ether; only worth two points.


But above all else, Boston is known as “The City of Jaywalkers,” just as Kansas City, Missouri is known as “The City of Fountains” and Worcester, Mass., is lovingly referred to as “The Industrial Abrasives Capital of the World.”

Boston jaywalkers: Cross at the green, not in between!


As its density increases with the return of empty-nester baby boomers from the suburbs, Boston’s jaywalking problem has reached crisis proportions; it is for this reason that I am serving as goodwill ambassador to Juan Jose Guiraldes, a forty-something gaucho from Argentina whom the City of Boston has recruited to become head of Pedestrian Traffic Enforcement.

Juan Jose, in his younger days.


I have arranged to meet Juan Jose at the Au Bon Pain in South Station, where I disembark from my train every morning. I realize I have foolishly forgotten to tell him that he must park his horse outside at the racks provided for the convenience of bicycle thieves as I hear the clip-clop of hooves on the marble floor.

“Excuse me, your horse is standing on my foot.”


“Juan Jose,” I say, holding up a sign bearing his name like a limousine driver at Logan Airport. “Welcome to Boston!”

“Buenos dias,” Juan Jose replies, barely breaking a smile. Consistent with the extensive research I have performed on Wikipedia, he has a more melancholy air than the typical American cowboy.

“Would you like a scone or something?” I ask hoping to break through his reserve.

He says nothing, but I can tell that he holds the sweet baked goods before him in contempt. “No thanks,” he says–his English is more than passable. He withdraws his facon–a large knife–from his saddlebags, along with a piece of cooked meat. He puts the meat in his mouth and tears at it with the knife, barely missing his nose. “I’m trying to cut back on carbs.”

“I am off to Boston–the greatest challenge of my life!”


I offer to at least buy him a cup of coffee, and he purses his lips, thinking. “Do you have yerba mate?” he asks the befuddled counter woman.

“I don’t think so,” she says, scanning the buttons on her cash register. “Is that like a cappucino?”

“No, senorita,” Juan Jose says. “It is an herbal tea-like drink, rich with caffeine and nutrients.”

The overworked and underpaid shift manager approaches. “We can make you a chai latte,” he offers helpfully.

“That’s probably as close as you’re going to get,” I say, withdrawing my wallet.

Before I have time to react his facon is on my wrist and his face has darkened. “Apparently your reading comprehension has not improved since fourth grade,” he says with an air of menace. “Had you reviewed the Wikipedia entry carefully, you would know that gauchos are proud men, and resort to violence quickly over petty matters.”

I slowly put my wallet back in my pocket, keeping my other hand out in the open so that I do not provoke Juan Jose further.

“You want a large, medium or small?” the counter woman asks.

“A large,” Juan Jose replies, then looks at me, puzzled. “Yesterday at a place called The Starbucks, I was offered four sizes of drinks in a semblance of my native tongue,” he says. “Tall, Grande, Venti and Trenta.” I notice that his eyes are misting over.

“Is everything okay?” I ask.

“Yes–it is just that I miss my daughters–Venti and Trenta–back home on the pampas in Argentina.”

The pampas


We take our drinks and head for what was once known as Dewey Square, but which some urban planning goober decided should be called “Financial Center” back in the 80′s. There, we are met with a sight that causes Juan Jose’s professional pride as a herder of animals to stir.

One Financial Center


“It is indeed a challenge that you have here,” he says, as he watches pedestrians cross against traffic lights and posted warnings, dodging speeding cars and trucks making early morning deliveries. “These people–they are more stupid than cattle.”

“Actually no,” I say, trying not to be defensive. “We have one of the highest concentrations of advanced degree holders in Amer–”

“These . . . ‘degrees,’” he says scornfully, cutting me off. “What good are they when you foolishly risk certain death in the face of on-rushing traffic?” He snaps the reins and his horse turns towards the Surface Artery. “Why do you add the word ‘Surface,’” he says as he trots off. “All roads–they have a surface, no?” he says, his voice heavy with irony.

Juan Jose takes up a position in the crosswalk where a young woman, iPod earbuds showing through her brown hair, nearly barrels into his horse’s hindquarters as she walks head down, not looking for cars. He leans down and gracefully picks her up, plunking her down behind his saddle horn.



“What are you doing?” she asks, more in surprise than anger.

“You would have become Prius-meat in a matter of seconds,” Juan Jose says. “The full hybrid electric mid-size car developed and manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation operates silently while in electric mode.”

“Gosh, I . . . I don’t know how to thank you,” the woman says. “How can I ever repay you?”

“Please, senorita,” he replies. “It is the Code of the Gaucho. I do not accept gratuities from the cows I herd–I could do no less for you.”

Toyota Prius: Silent but deadly.


Unclear whether she should feel grateful or insulted, the woman slides off the horse, her brief case and purse askew. “Thanks–I guess.” She walks off, glancing suspiciously at us over her shoulder as she goes.

Juan Jose doffs his hat with a chivalrous flourish. “No hay problema!” I am surprised at how quickly he has picked up the expression preferred by Boston’s many slacker dude customer service representatives for “You’re welcome.”

Juan Jose turns back to his task and spies a rumpled-looking lawyer-type, huffing as he scurries to the curb about to cross to Federal Street after the light has changed but before the cars idling at the intersection can race forward.

Gaucho using boleadoras: Substitute lawyer for ostrich.


Sensing an imminent catastrophe, Juan Jose takes his boleadoras or bolas–wooden balls attached with braided leather cords–and swings them over his head. He lets fly, catching the man’s legs just as he has felled so many ostriches on the plains of Argentina with his primitive throwing weapon.

“Are you all right?” Juan Jose asks as we catch up to the man, the papers from his briefcase scattering in the wind off the Atlantic.

Heading back home


“Of course I’m not all right, you nut!” the man screams. Juan Jose’s face clouds over, and for the first time I sense that he has doubts whether he is up to the task of taming the wild bulls of Boston’s concrete pampas. Juan Jose stares off into the distance–visibly disgusted with the man’s ingratitude; I imagine he is thinking of the freedom of his life on the plains.

“The job–it comes with four weeks paid vacation, health and dental,” I say, trying to reassure him.

He is silent for a moment. “I no think I will do it,” he says.

“Why not?”

“Because,” he begins haltingly, trying hard to be gracious, “$4.06 is a lot to pay for a freaking chai latte.”

Available in print and Kindle format as part of the collection “Boston Baroques” on

Big Book of Presbyterian Humor Due in Stores Today

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Molly Yardnal is a stocking clerk at the Barnes & Noble book store in this suburb of Boston who’s finding it hard to do her job now that students have returned to local colleges and the aisles are jammed.  “I guess people are buying books because big-ticket items are too extravagant in this economy,” she says as customers squeeze by her. “Either that or they’re way cheap.”

Today, Molly is working the humor aisle as she rips open cardboard shipping boxes filled with copies of “The Big Book of Presbyterian Humor,” the latest in a series of similar titles by Minoz Press. “Next to the Big Book of Jewish Humor and the Big Book of Catholic Humor, it looks kind of small,” she notes dubiously.

“If I told you you had a nice body, would you hold it against—never mind.”


“It should sell well as a Christmas stocking stuffer,” says editor Morris Korkin of his latest release, which runs to 24 pages including a table of contents, an index and a blank last page that can be used for taking notes during sermons. “Actually, you could fit two copies in your typical stocking.”

“I’ll be here all week. Be sure and tip your elders and deacons!”


American Presbyterians have been known as a humorless bunch since colonial times, when Founding Father Thomas Jefferson first noted a dour streak in the Scottish immigrants. “The Puritans put a man in the stocks this morning,” Jefferson notes in his diary at one point. “The Presbyterians came by later and criticized his outfit for being too casual.”

“He hath not got those breeches at Brooks Brothers!”


The book is being hailed by the denomination’s ministers as a helpful tool in defusing familial tensions. “Say two Presbyterian daughters get in an argument over whose David Yerman bracelet was more expensive,” says Rev. Scott Lee of the First Presbyterian Church in Duxbury, Massachusetts. “Nothing gets people in a good mood again like a joke that begins ‘A priest, a rabbi and a lady snake charmer walk up to the Gates of Hell.’”

David Yerman bracelet: “Haven’t you got something a little more expensive?”


The age-old question—Is there such a thing as a dirty Presbyterian joke?—is answered with an emphatic “Yes” by the collection, with a knee-slapper involving a first-class airline passenger who “poops his pants” after a particularly bumpy flight, notes Korkin.

“You shouldn’t say ‘fart’–use a polite euphemism such as ‘toot.’”


“That’s the only one we found,” he says. “For years we’ve heard rumors there’s another, about a grandmother who farts when her family visits her in a nursing home, but like Bigfoot it turned out to be a hoax.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Our WASPy Heritage.”

SUV Skills Give Soccer Moms Monster Truck Edge

STAFFORD SPRINGS, Connecticut. Tori Carrington is a mother of three with a black labrador retriever named “Boots” and a pick-up and drop-off schedule that reads like a cab dispatcher’s log. “I’ve got so much stuff to haul around town, there’s no way I could handle it with a car,” she says as she slams the rear door of her Chevy Suburban on six bags of groceries and her daughter Amanda’s finger.

The same is true for Mindy Michaels, who lives next door. “We bought the Expedition because we needed the space for all our kids’ junk,” she says as she wrangles her son Jason’s mountain bike and her daughter Ellie’s vaulting poles and javelins into the super-sized Ford SUV.

Tori and Mindy are both ranked in the top ten of the Monster Jam Points Series as the season winds down with an event at Stafford Motor Speedway in this leafy Connecticut suburb, the American Express Super Modified Monster Mayhem Weekend. As monster truck racing has previously been an all-male preserve, the two stand our for reasons more obvious than their Ann Taylor sweaters and pearl necklaces.

“We see soccer moms as the next big wave in professional Monster Truck racing,” says Amex’s James Saltonstall, III. “Sort of like Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam on the PGA Tour. It’s a very affluent target audience with tremendous upside potential because right now they’re all watching Martha Stewart and Meredith Viera on The View.”

That sentiment isn’t necessarily shared by Monster Truck veterans such as Duane “Bug Juice” Johnson of Warrensburg, Missouri. “I don’t have anything against women drivers in general, but those two are kind of aggressive on a Chicago-style track,” he says. “Also, their back porches are a little skimpy for my tastes.”

But Tori and Mindy say they won’t let hidebound prejudice stand in their way as they line up for the qualifying heat of the Super-Modified division in which they compete. “I work out four days a week with a personal trainer so I can fit into size 6 capri pants,” she says with uncharacteristic firmness. “I’m not going to take fashion tips from some Midwestern hilljack who doesn’t have an MBA.”

As the women maneuver their SUV’s into position they can look down the starting line at snarling 800 horsepower behemoths with names like “Grave Digger,” “The Avenger” and “Wild Thang” painted on their sides. Tori thought about adopting une nomme du monster chariot, but decided against it. “My parents always taught me not to call undue attention to myself,” and indeed her Suburban is a muted forest green in contrast to the bright reds, oranges and yellows of some of her male competitors.

Mom and Dad.

The announcer counts down from “Drivers Ready,” to “Get Set,” and then screams “Go!” over the public address system, sending the vehicles scrambling around the short track with dirt-mound jumps. Tori and Mindi are inveterate cell phone uses—”It’s attached to my ear!” Mindi admits—and Tori calls her friend as soon as they take their places in the pack.

“Hi there,” says Tori. “Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“No,” Mindi replies. “I’m going over a jump in a minute so I may lose coverage.”

Mindi scales the dirt mound and her Expedition goes flying, landing on the bed of Bug Juice Johnson’s “Eradicator”.

“Nice air, Mindi!” Tori says with admiration.

“Thanks. I’ve been working on my technique in the Lord & Taylor parking lot.”

“How can you? That place is always packed. I was in that mall the other day to pick up my David Yurman bracelet.”

“The one with the sapphires?” Mindi asks.

“Right. Oops—hold on.” Tori swerves to avoid J.T. “Rascal” Dupree from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Watch where you’re going!” Dupree yells at her.

“Sorry,” Tori yells back over the roar. “I didn’t want to spill my drink!” She takes a sip of a Starbucks vanilla latte, extra foam, and resumes her conversation. “Anyway, I went in there to have the mounts tightened. I almost lost one of the stones at a cocktail party last week.”

“At the Ohrbachs?”


“You never would have found it in those blue oriental rugs of theirs.”

“I know!”

“Hey, lady—shut up and drive!” It is Darrell Joseph, the current points leader, who cuts Tori off.

“What a jerk,” she tells her friend.

“I know. He thinks he’s so macho. How much would you guess he makes?”

“The top drivers on the circuit earn around $80,000, before endorsements.”

“Not very much, is it? You couldn’t buy a potting shed in Greenwich with that.”

“You couldn’t make a down payment on a potting shed with it!” Tori says with a laugh.

The cars are on the last lap and the drivers jockey for position as they try to advance to the championship round. “Well, I should probably hang up now,” Mindi says as she cuts off Rascal Dupree.

“Okay—talk to you later,” Tori says as she snaps her razor phone shut and puts it in the “clutter caddy” between the front bucket seats. In third place, she is well-positioned to qualify, but Mindi is stuck at the back of a pack behind the leaders. “I should try and help her out,” Tori says to herself, bringing a spirit of feminine cooperation to a sport that has long been ruled by masculine notions of cut-throat competition.

Tori positions her Suburban down low, waits until she makes the turn for the home stretch, and then slams on her brakes, causing the bunched-up cars behind her to rear-end each other, leaving Mindi free to pass them on the rail.

Tori’s cell phone rings, and she opens it up as she crosses the finish line.

“That was so sweet of you!” Mindi exclaims.

“Happy to help!” Tori replies. “I wanted to make sure my girlfriend got into the finals!”

Darrell Joseph doesn’t share the women’s enthusiasm as he comes running across the track, shaking his fist. “You crazy bitch! You coulda killed me!” he screams.

“Oh, blow it out your boxer shorts,” Tori says dismissively. “How much is a life like yours worth anyway?”

The blunt nature of the question causes Joseph to stop and think. “Well, let’s see. I got three years’ worth of payments due on my double-wide trailer home. I got a 2010 Camaro that’s leaking oil. Most of my paycheck goes to my first two wives in alimony. I guess you’re right. If I died today, I’d probably come out ahead.”

“See? It helps to do a mental inventory when you get upset like that.”

“Where’d you learn how to do that?” Joseph asks gratefully.

“Yoga class!”


Available in Kindle format on as part of the collections “Blurbs From the Burbs” and “From NASCAR to NPR.”

Releasing Your Inner Bigfoot

Dorothy Parker once observed that Katherine Hepburn’s emotional range ran the gamut from “A” to “B”.

         “A”                 “B”


The average man’s mid-life crisis doesn’t even get that far.

There is the Automotive (sports cars), the Athletic (late-in-life marathons) and the Amorous (making passes at young lasses).

“Just passing through.”


To this triple-A club, allow me to add a “B”–Bigfoot, the apelike creature who walks upright like a man.

Since grainy footage of the creature first became available in the ’60′s, I have dreamed of owning a Bigfoot costume.  Now that I’m in the autumn of my years and I’ve begun to reflect on what I want to accomplish before I die, it is time to put on the sasquatch suit and go into the woods west of Boston, like Thoreau, deliberately.

Farrah Fawcett, not Thoreau


In the ’70′s, Bigfoot was romantically linked with Farrah Fawcett, spotted in an Arkansas 7-11 with Elvis, and tabbed the front-runner to be Secretary of the Interior had Gerald Ford defeated Jimmy Carter.

He has since avoided the spotlight, resurfacing only for serious scientific study such as a 2002 National Geographic article.  As with J.D. Salinger, Bigfoot’s mystique has been enhanced by his private nature, and his Garbo-like attitude has opened the field to imitators, like me.

J.D. Salinger:  “Bigfoot?  Yeah, I’ve seen him around.”


Those who have longed to dress as Bigfoot in the past but were deterred, like transvestites, from shopping publicly have found a haven in the internet.  There are numerous high-quality Bigfoot costumes available on-line for sale or lease.  Ask your accountant which is right for you.


If you’re the handyman type, try the do-it-yourself models available on hunting websites.  These strikingly realistic outfits can be fashioned from a few items you probably already own–camouflage, foam padding, jute and Shoe Goo.

Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area as prolonged exposure to glue fumes can cause behavior that would be considered erratic even for a creature that eats housecats.

Like the Evangelist you may ask, “What doth it profit a man to gain a Bigfoot costume, and lose his wife’s faith in his sanity?”  I’ll tell you what it doth profit as soon as I can untie my tongue from these frigging fricatives.

Roger Patterson, the man who faked home movies of Bigfoot, made a bundle selling prints to supermarket-checkout line tabloids.  Our property borders conservation land, a perfect setting for the sort of Blair Witch Project cinéma vérité-style that is de rigeur for any Bigfoot flick.

After spending an afternoon staggering around your backyard in a sasquatch costume in front of a video camera, you’ll have college tuition for the kids pretty well covered.  Then the little woman will think it’s a good idea.

Having a Bigfoot costume can also extend the life of your pets.  If coyotes are moving into your neighborhood, there is nothing like the sight of a yeti to send them packing.  No cruel leg traps for your neighbors with the PETA membership to complain about.

And then there’s the matter of convenience.  No one likes to wait in line, but everyone wants that wake-up cup of coffee first thing in the morning morning, causing caffeine gridlock across the country all weekend long.

“Uh, sure–you can cut in front of me.”


If you want to clear out a Starbucks in a hurry, try showing up some Saturday morning dressed as an 8-foot tall mammal!  You’ll find plenty of empty seats, and maybe even a newspaper someone in a hurry left behind.  Probably needed to feed his meter.

Fashion tip: Remove costume before meeting wife at Talbots.

“I love this cable knit cardigan . . . oh my god!  It’s Bigfoot!”


Kids love furry animals, and you can make a lot of money at birthday parties with your new outfit.  The going rate for a three-hour gig is $200 and can go higher if you’re willing to do a little face painting–assuming the kids will come out from behind the sofa.

That first check will seem like found money.  Take your wife out for a meal at a nice restaurant–a well-timed growl from “Bigfoot” will get you the best table in the place.

Psychologists describe the mid-life transition as “middlescence”–the second coming of adolescence, without the complexion problems.

What could be more adolescent than staggering out of the house at night, hair down to your shoulders, dressed to scare people, smelling of Shoe Goo?

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Yes I Can’t!”

Consuela Translates the Languages of Love

Dear Ones–

In olden times–much oldener than Consuela–lovers used secret languages to communicate in order to escape detection.  Thus in the XIX century, or maybe it was the XVIII, I don’t remember which, languid ladies used fans to send messages to their beaus.  Holding the fan on the right cheek meant “Yes,” holding it on the left meant “No,” to open and close it meant “You are cruel,” while pointing a closed fan at the mouth meant “You have some kind of goober between your teeth.”

Image result for spanish fan
Translation:  “You also have tuna breath.”


But fans are passé nowadays, leaving lovers adrift when they want to express themselves in a sub rosa manner, and believe me, Rosa is not happy about it.  How do you decipher the wordless missives that come your way from would-be lovers across a crowded room?  Ask Consuela to translate the silent languages of love!

Image result for colored paper clips

Dear Consuela–

I work in the accounts payable department of a large manufacturer of flanges and hasps.  I have noticed that our comptroller “Earl” who has a night M.B.A.–which he earned going to school for many years after work he is so diligent!–always sends me invoices fastened with a “candy striped” paper clip.  Enora Bothwell, the girl who sits at the next desk, receives her packet of payables with a plain metal clip, although she believes she is the “apple” of Earl’s eye.

I would be interested in learning the meaning of peppermint vs. metallic clips in today’s romantic marketplace.

Please respond to my home email, we are not supposed to converse electronically at work.

Mary Alice Grimmett, Ludlow, Mass.

Dearest Mary Alice–

Time to order material for bridesmaids’ dresses!  A striped paper clip sent by a man to a woman means he wants to “jump her bones,” and is willing to submit to a life of quiet desperation in an office cubicle to pay for it.  Show “Earl” you mean business by returning his file copies with a baby blue and white clip that says you’re his gal!

My dearest Consuela–

I am a sales trainee at Loudermilk Dairy Products, where we are forced to spend our Friday afternoons in boring meetings instead of leaving early during the summer like people with good jobs.  Recently I have noticed Floyd Moeglin from the finance department making a weird sign at me when Mike Radick, VP of Sales, turns his back to write on the white board.  He–Floyd, not Mike–will wave his hand up and down under his chin at me, then get this goofy grin on his face.

I looked on the internet for “weird hand signs” AND “mental illness” but didn’t find anything.

Claudia Rees, Hoxie, Arkansas

Image result for little rascals high sign

Dear Claudia–

You are one lucky gal!  “Floyd” is making the Little Rascals “high sign,” universally recognized as either an invitation to friendship or an expression of contempt comparable to a silent Bronx cheer.  I would proceed with cautious optimism in the hope that the former is the case and not the latter.  Since “Floyd” is a trifle infantile in his courtship techniques, perhaps invite him to a church ice cream social.




I have been going out with this guy “Duane” who has a rotating collection of rear view mirror ornaments–the tassel from his high school graduation “mortarboard,” one of those Little Trees “Royal Pine” air fresheners, a Kansas City Royals nylon web pet collar, etc.  Last Sunday night when I got in his car he had a woman’s lace garter hung up there, big as life.  I said “Where’d you get that?” and he said “Wouldn’t you like to know?”  We went back and forth like that for awhile, me asking a question, he “answering” with another question.  Finally I gave up and scooched over to my side of the car where I stayed for the whole drive-in movie, which was Return of Mothra, something he wanted to see but I didn’t.  At the end of the night he said “I didn’t know you were such a ‘chrome-polisher,’ the term in common use around here for a girl who won’t make out and clutches a car’s door handle the whole night.

Consuela, I have invested two months in this guy and want to make it clear I am not into an “open” relationship where he is allowed to festoon his car with female undergarments while I sit home checking for split ends.  Is he trying to “send a message” to me that he’s too much man for any one woman?



Naomi Whitestone, Camdenton MO

Still waters run deep.


Dear Naomi–

Since time immemorial the male of the species has struggled to express his feelings.  “Ug” the first caveman said to his date, and she no doubt asked herself “What did he mean by that?”

A man’s rear view mirror is an extension of his personality–assuming he has a personality–so you should not question the tacky decorating choices he makes with regard to this standard feature of most American-made cars.  I think the little cat-and-mouse/tit-for-tat game he was playing by answering your questions with another question is a good sign, however.  If he was dating somebody else he’d either lie to you or say “What garter belt?”

That said, the Standard Semiotics Directory of Non-Verbal Romantic Cues reports that a garter belt hanging on a rear-view mirror means the owner of the vehicle does not prefer panty hose, which are cumbersome to remove in tight places, if you get my drift.

Dear Consuela–

When a woman wears an “I’m With Stupid” t-shirt on a date with you I always assumed she was saying she was not receptive to overtures from other men.  I ask because this guy came up to my girlfriend Chloe when we stopped for fried clams at Jimbo’s Lobster Shack last night and apparently said “Why don’t you dump that egghead for me?” after I’d gone to the men’s room, fried food has that effect on me.

When I came back Chloe was batting her eyelashes at the guy trying to explain she was wearing the shirt ironically.  He apparently didn’t understand irony–all of his shirts were permanent press.

I got kind of mad at Chloe for leading the guy on, but she said she was doing that ironically.  I forgot to mention, she was an English major and so is into verbal wordplay and figurative speech.  I was a business major, then got my masters in business administration, and now am in business.  This summer I’m getting an executive M.B.A.

I don’t want to be a spoilsport but I also don’t want to spend the rest of my life with a woman who’s always pulling people’s legs, figuratively if not literally.  Is there some sort of mood ring or something I can use to tell when she’s being ironic?

Frazier Hollingsworth
Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

High IQ babe.


Dear Frazier–

It sounds like you will have your hands full with this “off-the-wall” young woman.  Unfortunately, there are no hand-held devices to detect, much less ward off, the cheap cynicism with which many “liberal arts” majors are infected during their undergraduate days.  I would recommend that you dump Chloe like a hot rock and find a young woman more suited to your personality at a singles group for the literal-minded.

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