Tax Code Found to Be Safe Yet Potent Aphrodisiac

WASHINGTON, D.C. It’s getting close to tax time, and across the nation women are nursing two-month-old babies they delivered in January.

“You are the cutest widdle $3,200 deduction from ordinary income mommy’s ever seen!”


Demographers have noticed that a disproportionate number of the nation’s children are born during the first month of the year, and the Internal Revenue Service believes it has discovered why.

Shulman: “The tax code has always been a tremendous turn-on for me personally.”

“Our nation’s tax code, while complex, can be a safe but potent means of increasing the libido of married couples who file joint returns,” said former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman. “There’s the fighting over ‘Why don’t you make more money?’ and then–the make-up sex.”

Looking at naughty forms on the IRS website helps couples get in the mood.

Taxpayers seem to agree with Stiff’s analysis. Linda Barnes of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, says tax time is a period of increased intimacy with her husband Duane, who prepares their taxes using off-the-shelf software. “Just say it real slow and sultry-like–‘Turbotax–Turbotax’. It kinda gets to you.”

Church ice cream social: “Lloyd, is that an ice cream cone in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”

Others say they use the stimulus of tax preparation to avoid the side effects of other erectile dysfunction remedies. “My husband Lloyd thought he was going blind from Viagra,” says Cindi Kennon of Hoxie, Arkansas, “and with Cialis he’d walk around all weekend with a lump in his pants–not good for a Sunday night ice cream social,” at the Bethany Baptist Church where the Kennons worship. “On the other hand, alcohol is like prunes–is two beers enough? Is six too many? You never know.”

Muu-Muus: Also available in men’s sizes.

There are even couples who use tax-based role playing to add an extra kick to the Internal Revenue Code’s 9,545 pages of erotic stimulus. “We introduce cross-dressing into our love-making routine during April,” says Anna Simon of Grosse Point, Michigan. “I buy my husband Jim some plus-size panty hose and a muu-muu, and he plays the poor, pitiful housewife while I pretend I’m an IRS auditor.” After scolding him for improper deductions of commuting expenses from W-2 wages, Mrs. Simon spanks her husband and allows him to file an amended return correcting his error.

“All of our private suites are booked right now, but I can put you on the table in the conference room.”

Tax-preparation giant H&R Block says it will add private “consultation” rooms to its offices to handle the needs of couples whose personal tastes include exhibitionism. “The guys come in here and want to show me how big their mortgage interest deductions are,” said branch manager Herb Webb of the firm’s Council Bluffs, Iowa office. “Frankly, they don’t pay me enough to watch that kind of sicko stuff.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Death, Taxes and More Taxes.”

Moi et La Vache Qui Rit

I have generally found that, if you are in quest of some certain escape from Philistines of whatsoever class—sheriff-officers, bores, no matter what—the surest refuge is to be found amongst hedgerows and fields, amongst cows.

                    De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

Image result for la vache qui rit

I first encountered La Vache Qui Rit in a little neighborhood grocery store in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.  She was, in a word, irrepressible.  “Look,” she said to all and sundry, including those over in the sundries section.  “‘Cheese flavored food product,'” she read from a package of American “cheese,” breaking out in laughter.  “It isn’t cheese, it’s a ‘cheese-flavored food product.'”

To say that I fell in love with The Laughing Cow at first sight would not be an understatement; she was “La vache qui rit quand je ne peux pax,” viz., “The cow who laughs when I can’t.”  Burdened as I was by hours of freshman homework in the humanities, social studies, the physical sciences, phys ed and of course French, I had neither the time nor the energy to laugh–I needed a bovine friend with little cheese wheel earrings to do my laughing for me.

It was Charles-Andre-Joseph-Marie de Gaulle, the first president of the Fifth Republic, the man named after quadruplets who cracked “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”  “Je ne sais pas,” as I used to say when Dr. Bell or Madame Cooney or Mademoiselle Quintana or Monsieur Isacharoff, the four pedagogues who tried unsuccessfully to drum French into my head, would ask me a question.  En Anglais: “I don’t know,” because the only cheese I ever needed was La Vache Qui Rit.

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Ye olde dorm.

I took her home, or more precisely to my dorm room, in her most popular format, the “spreadable wedge.”  What followed was an orgy of cheap pleasure that surpassed anything I’d previously experienced with Velveeta, my cheesy “If you’re lookin’ at me, you’re lookin’ at country” girlfriend back in Missouri.  After we were done dusting the cracker crumbs out of my bed, it occurred to me that there was more to life than oral gratification.  “You know, Vache . . .”


“I was wondering–do you think you could help me fend off a few bores?”

“What kind?”

“A varied assortment.  Academic, artistic–”

Image result for siegel schwall
Siegel-Schwall Band:  They may be bad, but they’re also boring.


“You mean The Siegel-Schwall Band?”

“Well, yeah.”

“They’re awful,” she laughed.  She was, after all, La Vache Qui Rit.  “White guys imitating white guys imitating black guys.”

“Like somebody making hand puppets in Plato’s cave.”

“Anybody else?”

“Wegener–the professor of something or other who can’t make it in the English Department and can’t make it in the Philosophy Department so he latches on to a scholar . . .”


“. . . on the nosey, who’s too big for any one department, and becomes his acolyte.”

“I don’t know,” she said, her fescue-sweetened breath blowing my way.  “That’s two tall orders.  Anybody else?”

“Well there’s this guy who’s in my dorm . . .”

“Um hmm . . .”

“It’s like he’s already become an old fart at the tender age of eighteen.”

“How so?”

“Smokes a pipe.  Has elbow patches on his sweaters.  Says things like ‘I’m in the mood to read a really good epic poem.'”

“Ouch,” she said.  “Were his parents . . .”

“Professors?  You got it.  He brought his own file cabinets to school with him.”

Image result for laughing cow

“I think a case like that is probably incurable.  You can’t help somebody who’s the product of inbreeding.”

I figured she was right on that score.  “So what can you do for me?”

She looked off into the distance, as if yearning for the peace and contentment of her home in the former French province of Bresse.  “I can give you the tools,” she said with a distracted air.  “What you do with them is up to you.”

I gulped in recognition of the challenge that lay before me.  “Okay,” I said solemnly.  “Let’s do it.”

“Follow me,” she said.

“Where are we going?”

“To class.  Let’s start you out easy with a feckless academic.  They’re easier to cow.”  She said this with a glint in her eye, seeing if I caught her play on words.

“I’m right behind you.”

“Watch out for bovine flatulence.”  So earthy!

We made our way to the building where the Department of the History and Philosophy of History and Philosophy was housed, and made our way to the fourth floor, where an eager retinue of acolytes sat waiting for the entrance of the semi-great professor.  I sat down at one of the rectangular tables, each with an ashtray that said “No smoking” on it.  I looked around, but didn’t see any bottles that said “No drinking” on them.

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French cows: “Mieux!”

At the stroke of the hour he entered; the fraud, the con man, the second fiddle, the guy who’d parlayed a symbiotic (if not parasitic) relationship with the great translator of Aristotle into a cushy position with tenure; two courses a semester, a sabbatical every seven years, three months off in the summer.  Nobody ever went into academics looking for hard work.

Image result for university of chicago class
“I thought we’d have class outside today so you wouldn’t be stifled by my hot air.”

“What’s this guy’s game?” Vache whispered to me as he sat down.

“He’s the Professor Irwin Corey of academia.  Talks a bunch of nonsense but makes it complicated so you think it’s your problem if you don’t understand.”

“It is your problem–he’s handing out the grades.”

Image result for irwin corey
“Did I say teleology of hermeneutics?  My bad–I meant hermeneutics of teleology.”


The prof gave everybody a poop-eating grin, the way Oprah or a Tonight Show host looks out on an audience that’s been warmed up for them.  “Let’s dive right into Lucretius!” he said, but everyone knew that was a head-fake.  He wouldn’t stay with the Roman poet-philosopher long enough to make a cogent argument; he’d be off to the races, comparing him to Rousseau, Marcel Duchamp, Neil Young and Shemp, the Fourth Three Stooge.
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Lucretius:  “What’s with the No Smoking ash trays?”


The neophyte intellectuals were scribbing away, except for one particularly devoted devotee named Eliot–figures–who had brought a tape recorder.  He didn’t want to miss a word while writing, which would also detract from his ability to fawn.

The prof was going a mile a minute and almost missed the exit for Sartre, and so had to slam on the brakes and double back.  La Vache seen her opportunity and took it, like Tammany Hall boss George Washington Plunkitt.  “Excuse me,” she said after swallowing the cud she’d been chewing.  “Is this little bout of logorrhea going anywhere?”

The academic was caught off guard by Vache’s no-nonsense air.  He was used to having his ass kissed, not kicked.

“Well, uh, yes, of course.  It leads to Giambattista Vico, and from there to Marx, and . . .”

“Yogi Berra?”

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Berra:  “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”


“Excuse me?” the prof said.  “You’re introducing a lowly baseball player into a colloquy about the greatest minds of Western Civilization?”

“He’s the second most quoted person in history after Lewis Carroll,” Vache said.  “As Casey Stengel used to say, ‘You could look it up.'”

The professor had been knocked off his balance, but he regained his footing on the firmer ground of academic bureaucracy.  “I don’t believe I’ve seen you in this class before,” he said blandly.  “You know you can’t audit a course without the registrar’s permission.”

“I’m a visiting faculty member in the French department,” she said.  “I’ve come to America to see how we can improve on our academic inefficiency.”

At the Jennifer Aniston Intensive Hair Care Clinic

Living Proof, a company whose owners include two MIT-trained engineers, adopted a scientific approach to haircare, then reached out to Jennifer Aniston, “possessor of what is perhaps the most famous hair on the planet.”  “I read the testimonials about how Living Proof products actually changed women’s lives,” says the company’s CEO.  “I’d never seen anything like that before.”

The Boston Globe

We were sitting in the lounge at the Jennifer Aniston Intensive Haircare Clinic, shooting the breeze, as is our wont; it’s not easy maintaining a constant focus on saving the world’s hair, one split end at a time.

“Please–don’t hate me because my hair is beautiful.”

“You guys want to try something different today?” I asked my colleagues, Dr. Etang Chin and Dr. Anil Gupta, both world-renowned hair care specialists.

“Like what?” Chin asked, and I noticed his tone was somewhat harsh.  “What’s more important than hair?”

“I dunno,” I said.  I figured it was better to take a roundabout approach rather than broaching the subject head-on.  After all, I wasn’t wearing my broach.

Broaching a broach.

“You brought it up,” Gupta chimed in.  “What in the world were you thinking?”

They had me back on my heels.  Hunger made people hungry, but bad hair–it could ruin your whole day.

“I was thinking maybe . . .”

“Yes,” Chin asked, ready to pounce.

“There’s this thing called . . . cancer.”

“Cancer–please!” Gupta fairly shouted.  “How is that a problem?”

“Yeah,” said Chin.  “Cancer’s got its own zodiac sign–it’s all set.  Hair is the most neglected outgrowth of the skin of an animal there is!”

“But cancer,” I said, trying to recover from the gale force of their arguments, “people . . . die from it.”

“Listen,” Gupta said, turning on me so that I couldn’t avoid his gaze.  “Have you ever heard of cancer of the hair?”

He had me there.  “I . . . I guess not.”

“So case closed.  Please–start thinking about the important things in life, would you?”

I shut up for awhile, having painted myself into a logical corner from which there was no escape until the oil-based premises of my syllogism dried.  I had to admit, my fellow researchers had a point.  For years, decades–centuries–women had been yanking down just any old haircare product from drug and beauty store shelves, the ingredients depressingly the same; heavy silicones, greasy oils.  It was a wonder there were still humans left on planet earth.  If men hadn’t been so ignorant of the fundamentals of shampooing–how you have to lather, rinse, then repeat–they would have risen up and demanded the new molecules we had invented at the Jennifer Aniston Intensive Haircare Clinic.

Nice nippers!

This stuff is top-secret, which is why I’m only allowed to disclose it in the realm of fiction.  We patented octafluoropentyl methacrylate, which shields hair from humidity, thereby reducing frizz and repelling dirt.  Can you imagine what a difference that would have made to someone like Shirley Temple, forced into early retirement when her hair curled up like Gordian Knots.  You know the kind tied by angels’ hands to bind true friendship?  Huh.  I guess you don’t know that poem.

Shirley Temple:  “Let’s get frizzy!”

Or how about poly-beta amino ester-1, which according to advertising approved by our crack team of lawyers working round the clock, “creates a microscopic pattern of thickening dots on every hair strand.”  What’s the point you ask?  Oh yes you did, I heard you on the other side of this computer monitor.  I’ll tell you what.

That friction makes thin hair look and behave “like textured, full, thick hair.”  Who writes, this stuff, you ask?  With all those commas, probably Henry James  or some other Harvard man.

But the idea for PBAE’s–I’m going to have to use shorthand or else my fingers are going to faint from all these multi-polysyllabic chemical compounds–came out of MIT, down Mass Ave.  My rule of thumb: MIT discovers stuff, Harvard makes money off of it.

“But,” I began after this internal reverie played out, “isn’t there something fundamentally . . . trivial about using the breadth and depth . . .”

“Don’t forget the height,” Gupta interjected.

“Finally I have found scientific explanation for light blue eye shadow!”

“. . . okay, fine, all three dimensions of our scientific training to develop–hair care products?”

They drew themselves up, offended that I would question their raison d’etre.  Also their voulez-vous couchez avec moi.

“I guess you don’t understand,” Gupta said, and there was more than a trace of menace in his voice.  “I came to the Jennister Aniston Intensive Hair Care Clinic with no preconceived notions about what could and couldn’t work in beauty products,” he hissed at me.  “Apparently, you can’t say the same.”

“The same what?”

“That you have no preconceived notions in the realm of beauty products, the mission to which everyone at JAIHC but you has dedicated his life, his fortune, his sacred honor,” Chin continued.

“The study of what is perhaps the most famous hair on the planet!” Gupta snapped.

“I’m detecting unusually high concentrations of dry, flyaway hair.”

I gulped, and felt a frisson of guilt flow down my spine like a rat scampering along a downspout.  I had, after all, been drawing a paycheck from the Institute for three years, first as an intern, then as a fellow, then as a jolly good fellow.

“Look guys,” I said, trying to placate them.  “I know our haircare products have changed women’s lives–I get that okay?”

“We have a ph imbalance on test subject no. 3914.”

“I’m not sure you do,” Chin said, “but go on.”

“I know a woman who’s unhappy with her hair can suffer from depression, anxiety, heartbreak of psorias and yellow waxy buildup.”

“But you don’t seem to understand that our haircare products literally change women’s lives!” Chin said with emphasis.

“But what you guys don’t understand,” I said–and I meant it–“is that it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.”

“Now that,” said Gupta, “is scientific heresy.”

“No it’s not,” I said, regaining my self-assurance.  “You wanna know why?”

“Why?” they said in unison.

“Because no matter how dramatically you turn around a woman’s problem hair . . .”


“No matter how happy she is with the new look of her locks . . .”


“She’s still not going to out with either of you two dweebs.”

Dancing With the Refrigerator

In the fifties when the madness of dance
descended upon the youth of the land,
enflamed by images of other teens
flickering across TV screens

from Philadelphia, of all places,
practice was essential if perfection
was to be achieved, and a necessity,
since able males willing to serve as partner

were in short supply.  It was as necessary
as a pessary had been to their mothers
for girls to practice their steps holding
on to the handle of a refrigerator.

Stoic, stolid, the appliances stood
doing their duty as men would,
allowing the girls to shine; after all,
a fridge is just an appliance.

I wonder what passions pulsed
through their Freon tubes,
trapped beneath their skins of
avocado green, harvest gold and white.

To feel the warmth of a girl’s hand upon
their handles, tiny lights unlit within; up
in their freezer compartments their brains
frozen like those of boys they stood in for.

For the duration of a 45 rpm record, they might
believe themselves beloved, but of course
nothing would come of it.  The most
morganatic marriage Faulkner could dream of

did not contemplate that an icebox
would lose its cool over
a gamin’s brown locks.  And
as for those girls, now long grown,

let us hope they have men
as solid, if less cold, and capable
in their domestic dealings
of better expressing their feelings.

Try Again Haiku

A po-em about
how much you love poetry
is not a po-em.

Put Down That Poem Before You Kill Yourself

My GPS Cats

          Using tiny satellite tracking harnesses, the Cat Tracker Project has enrolled more than 500 cats in a program that will outfit them with Global Positioning System devices.

          The Boston Globe
“Is Okie lost–again?”


I was pretty excited to be chosen to test drive CatTrack, the state-of-the-art global positioning system for cats. It would mean an end–finally!–to stupid arguments with my housemate Okie, who is to feline intelligence what the Marianas Trench is to the Pacific Ocean; the lowest depth, the nadir, the perigee, the bottom of the bottom.
“I am not dumb. Just–directionally challenged.”


A few summers back Okie was gone from Memorial Day until late in August, and not because he has a summer house on the Cape. He was hopelessly lost, not “cheating” on our owners the way some cats do in order to get a second crack at the Purina Cat Chow every day. No, Okie returned several pounds lighter and even more confused than he was when he left, if that’s possible, the result of wandering dazed in the woods behind our house during the hottest months of the year. When the Nobel Prize Committee calls, he knows it ain’t for him.

But with GPS to guide us on our way, I’m hoping that my days of chasing after the Oak-man, trying to herd him home like a sheepdog, are over. God knows it’s only going to get worse; he’s 63 in cat years, and the grey matter he’s lost over the years in late-night fights with fisher cats–among other local predators–ain’t coming back.
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Fisher cat–not a household pet.


While I’m thinking these thoughts I watch Okie amble up, all innocent barefoot cat with cheeks of grey. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, poor sap, so I’ve had to serve as his tour guide over hill and dale lo these seven years we’ve been living together.

“How they hangin’ Oak?” I call out.

“Nothin’ much,” he replies. He has a stock assortment of come-backs, which don’t always fit the greeting.

“You want to go chase chipmunks?” I ask.

“Sure,” he says. “Although–”


“I don’t want to get lost again.”

“I know buddy,” I say. “But not to worry, I’ve got GPS.”

His face clouds over. “I am so sorry to hear that. Is there anything you can do for it?”

“It’s not a disease you nutball, it stands for ‘global positioning system.'”

“Oh,” he says, and I can tell he’s not quite comprehending. “Do we even have a globe anymore? I mean, the kids moved out, and I thought mom gave a lot of that stuff away.”

“Not a globe, the globe–the one you’re standing on!”

He looked down at his feet, to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. “Yep–it’s right here,” he said.

“It had better be–I don’t know where else we’d put it,” I said, shaking my head. “C’mon, I’ll show you how it works. You punch it what you’re looking for . . .”


“And we see what comes up.”

A voice with a vaguely British accent came on–I guess the units were originally made for Range Rovers–and began to speak: “Proceed twenty steps to the stone fence, then turn RIGHT to enter the motorway.”

“Do we have a motorway?” Okie asked, clueless as usual.

“I think the nice English lady in the little box means our driveway.”

We low-tailed it down to the asphalt circle that connected our front walk to the street, then began to poke our noses into one of those “dry” New England stone fences Puritan women devised to keep their men’s minds off of sex–and try saying that five times fast.

“Well look what we have here,” I said with a note of feigned Kumbaya pacifism in my voice.


Image result for chip and dale

“It’s Chip and Dale!”

“REALLY?” Okie asked. “I love those guys!”

“No not really, you dubo–figuratively.” Unlike me, the Oakmeister does not peruse the many tomes on aesthetic philosophy that the elder male human in the house keeps as vestiges of his undergraduate days. “I’m not wasting my time chasing cartoon characters.”

We crept along, cat-like–actually, it wasn’t just cat-like, we were genuine flesh-and-blood cats–until we were positioned just outside a likely chipmunk cave.

“Now would you please proceed in a stealthy fashion?” I asked, and plaintively I might add.

“You want stealth, huh?”

“Right–and silence.”

“Okay,” he said. Duh.

We each took a position on the opposite sides of the crack through which we expected, any minute, a chipmunk to pop its head. I held my breath–I made Oakie hold his own. After what seemed like an hour, we saw a furry little head peak out to see if the coast was clear. I gave Oak a glance and for once, he seemed to “get it”–the whole predator/prey thing–right away. I silently mouthed “One . . . two . . . three”–when the silence was broken by . . .

“Arriving at–destination. Chipmunk hollow on RIGHT.”

The damn GPS! The chipmunk scurried back into the hole as if he’d been sucked by a vacuum cleaner.

“Damn it to hell!” I squealed.

“Better watch it–mom will hear you.”

“What’s she going to do–send me to Blessing of the Animals Day?”

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