How to Have a Date by Valentine’s Day


It’s coming: Valentine’s Day, after New Year’s Eve, the second most dreaded day on the calendar for singles, grade school Romeos, and philanderers. Thankfully, Cosmopolitan magazine regularly publishes tips on how to have a boyfriend by the time significant holidays roll around, and I save them–the articles, not the holidays–for your convenience and to mock them mercilessly when the “mood” to add superfluous quotation marks hits me. Here are some of my favorite suggestions from Cosmos past:

Stock photo couple rubbing noses.


Take a long walk during a full moon.

The people at Cosmo–they’re the experts, right? So there must be some point to this tip, included in the 2009 article “How to Have a Boyfriend by the Holidays.”   Wait–I get it. What woman wants to waste a perfectly good romantic holiday on a hairy guy who’s going to go all werewolf on her once a month? That’s her job!

Wolf Man model kit: Yes, I had one as a boy.


Go ice skating, even if you don’t know how!

Nothing’s cuter than an inept couple mauling each other as they try to stand up on a slippery surface! Be sure to skate indoors, as assiduous reading of Boy’s Life Magazine in my youth has convinced me that nobody goes skating on a pond without falling through the ice.

Special this month:  Another little brother falls through the ice!


Pick a town you’re never visited, get in the car and drive there.

This tried-and-true dating technique, also known as “kidnapping,” is a great way to cut through the noisy “meat-market” atmosphere of superficial singles bars and get to know that “someone special” a little better. While prohibited in some states, it worked for Patty Hearst! A favorite “ice breaker” question: “What did you think of William Faulkner’s Sanctuary?”


Surprise him with an unexpected date that will blow his mind: a shooting range, boxing match, or beer and chocolate tasting.

To my mind, a beer and chocolate tasting spoils two good things, but what do I know? Listen to your inner Cosmo Girl–the one who keeps whispering “I’m desperate”–and find a Sunday afternoon “meat shoot” at a local hunting club or veterans’ lodge.

Meat shoot” participants: “We don’t get many gals at these shin-digs.”


If you strike out with your intended, there’ll be plenty of over-60 guys with beer bellies to latch onto.


Alien Abduction:

Think about it: You’ve never seen an alien from the THX 1138 spiral galaxy without a date on Valentine’s Day, have you? I didn’t think so! That’s because space aliens plan ahead, thanks to the miracle of relativity. “If you can travel faster than the speed of light, you will be able to know who won’t have a date on Valentine’s Day light years from now,” says Cal Tech physicist Norbert Huang.  This allows you to avoid blowing big bucks on Whitman’s Samplers and Evening in Paris perfume.

Be sure to use Vaseline petroleum jelly before attaching electrodes to your date for full-body-cavity probes. He’ll appreciate it!

At the Smoothie Bar With Herr Doktor Professor Freud



The agency that oversees federal programs relating to mental illness recommended drinking fruit smoothies and line dancing.

                                                                        The Wall Street Journal

The “Dora” Case: A young woman named Ida Bauer, whom I will call “Dora” to preserve her anonymity, had been diagnosed with hysteria. She claimed that a friend of her father had made a pass at her, and she slapped him—the friend, not the father. Her father did not believe that his friend “Herr K.”–an impecunious sort who could not afford a full last name–would do such a thing.

Dora developed dyspnea (hysterical choking), cough, depression, fainting spells, aphonia (fear of one’s cell phone), the whim-whams and what W.C. Fields referred to as “the inside meanies.”

I encouraged Dora to share her dreams with me. She told me of one in which the family house was on fire. Her father woke her up and told her to flee, but her mother wanted to stop and save her jewel-case. Her father said: “I refuse to let myself and my two children be burnt for the sake of your stupid jewel-case.” “But it contains precious stones!” her mother exclaimed. “I hate to break the news to you,” her father replied, “but it’s mainly cubic zirconia, cultured pearls and 10 Karat gold.”

I determined that Dora had an unresolved internal conflict that was affecting her psychological and physiological health. “Your hysteria is a manifestation of your forbidden desire for your father, Herr K, his wife ‘Frau K,’ and the junior varsity Alpine ski team at Fachhochschulstudiengaenge Burgenland. You must reconcile these conflicts if you wish to control your symptoms, especially that nasty cough,” I told her.

“That is not much help to me,” she sniffed. “I thought you were the world-famous Herr Doktor Professor Freud who could solve all my problems. Telling me to ‘reconcile these conflicts’—isn’t that your job?”

There was a certain innocent justice to her charge. I was the Father of Psychoanalysis, after all, but I could not allow her to indulge in “transference” and undermine my treatment by shifting her affections to me. It was necessary that I promptly re-establish our analyst-analysand relationship.

“Sometimes I find,” I began with great professional reserve, “that a multi-berry fruit smoothie, made with milk, plain or vanilla yogurt, one-half cup orange juice and honey to taste is just the thing to overcome a psychosomatic cough and a numbing psychic blockage.”



The “Rat Man” Case: A man with obsessional thoughts—principally about rats—came to me for relief. Casting about for a cool nickname for the patient, I hit upon “Rat Man.” When I was in school at the University of Vienna I was social chairman of the Ubermut Nordpol Ypsilon fraternity, and was quite admired for my uncanny ability to pick out monickers that would stick to my frat “bros.”

“Rat Man!” I would call to him as he lay down on my couch. “What’s shakin’!” It was only by “loosening him up” (Knotenumgimmerhofer) in this manner that I persuaded him to reveal what he said was his deepest, darkest secret: That he wished his father were dead, so he could inherit all his money and marry a good girl.

“This is a rather banal secret,” I said to him. “It falls squarely within the range of what is considered normal. Selfish, yes, perhaps even wicked, but abnormal? Not in my book.”

The patient’s condition worsened despite my ministrations. He began to have suicidal thoughts, triggered by guilt over an episode of infantile masturbation while looking at an image of “Hansel and Gretel” in his Grimm Brothers fairy tale book. I told him that these sorts of fact/fiction ménages a trois were permitted in France, but to be sure to cover his reading material with a Ziploc® brand oversize “craft and hobby” size plastic bag while he indulged in this innocent form of sexual recreation.

“Rat Man” began to have fantasies of marrying my daughter and told me he believed the only reason I was so kind and incredibly patient with him was because I wanted him for a son-in-law, and so I was forced to take drastic measures:

“I’m going to give you an easy, one-step detox smoothie recipe from the editors of Prevention magazine,” I said as I tore the scrip off my pad. “Grab your blender and get ready for the most delicious health food of your life!”


The “Wolf Man” Case: Perhaps my most famous case, From the History of an Infantile Neurosis, involved a patient named Sergej Pankejeff, known to the world since as the “Wolf Man.”

The Wolf Man’s father and sister had committed suicide, sending him into a state of severe depression. He sought my help and recounted for me the following dream:

“I dreamt it was night and I was lying in bed. Suddenly the window opened of its own accord, and I was terrified to see seven wolves sitting on the big walnut tree in front of my window, drinking smoothies. I screamed and woke up. My nurse hurried to see what the matter was. It took quite a while for her to convince me it had only been a dream.”

It was clear to me that the Wolf Man had seen his parents have sex as a child—while he was a child, not them—and so the remedy normally indicated by psychoanalytic protocols, a delicious, super-healthy fruit smoothie, would be of no avail.

“Mr. Man,” I said to him.

“Please—call me Wolf.”

“All right. Wolf, I am going to refer you to the Vienna Center for Adult Education.”

“Is my problem beyond the power of the brave new science of psychoanalysis?”

“Yes,” I said, somewhat abashed at the failure of my skills, grounded in my deep insight into human nature and years of rigorous training. “The only treatment that holds out any hope for you is a course in line-dancing. I hear the ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ has produced some remarkable breakthroughs.”

As Entree Baby Talk Spreads, Support for Plain English Menus Grows

SEEKONK, Mass. For Frank Marino, the last straw came after a long day at a youth hockey tournament two years ago.  “I took the kids to a Friendly’s and they was kinda cuttin’ up,” he says, his forehead furrowed from the memory.  “The wife is bitchin’ at me, the service was slow–I wasn’t my usual affable self.”

Then the waitress arrived to take the group’s order and when it came his turn, the 47-year-old grease trap cleaner decided to take a stand, in much the same way that Rosa Parks set off a civil rights revolution by taking a seat.  “What I wanted was a fish sandwich, but I was in no kinda jolly mood to order a ‘Fish-a-ma-Jig,'” he recalls.  “I also wanted a frappe”–the term used in New England for a milk shake–“but I was not gonna put on a smiley face and ask for a Fribble,” the restaurant chain’s brand name for the same item.

“We call this the Two-and-a-Half Inward Pike Gainer With a Chocolate Twist Sundae!”

And so Marino fired the shot heard round the restaurant world, pointing to the oversize laminated menu and saying loudly enough for patrons several tables away to hear, “I want a fish sandwich with ketchup, no tartar sauce, and a strawberry frappe–please.”  When waitress Juliana Ohlmeyer affected not to understand him, saying “We don’t have no fish sandwiches or frappes,” Marino persisted, pointing to the items’ goofy-named counterparts on the menu.  “I want this with ketchup, and a strawberry that,” this time with a tone so heated that shift manager Danny Orojeda came over to prevent the situation from escalating.

“We were out of cheesecake, but I can offer you some Um-Boy-That-Fat-Will-Look-Good-on-My-Hips! cake.”


Nationwide, the trend among dining establishments both large and small is to gussy up run-of-the-mill menu items with fancy names to increase profit margins that rarely exceed 3%, causing high rates of restaurant failure, bankruptcy, divorce and back acne.  “If you sell a grilled cheese by that name, you can charge maybe two bucks tops because they sell them for ninety-nine cents at McDonald’s,” says restaurant consultant Miles Hallinan.  “If you call it an Ooey Gooey Cheese Bomb! your price point is just slightly below a filet mignon at a snooty French restaurant where the chef wears a toque and always has his face screwed up into a moue, whatever that is.”

Echoing Abraham Lincoln, Marino says the world will “little note, nor long remember” who he was, but generations of adult males will be the beneficiaries of his fight against froofy food names.  “Our forefathers were a hardy race,” he says as he pulls a Tedy Bruschi jersey over his head in preparation for the New England Patriots’ victory parade today.  “They didn’t get off the Mayflower and pull into Howard Johnson’s to order a Yummylicious Double Whammywich.”


Supermodels Relieved as Patriots Break “Curse of Gisele”

NEW YORK.  When rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler intercepted a last-second pass Sunday night to clinch a Super Bowl victory for the New England Patriots, a cheer went up from an unlikely crowd; fifteen scrawny, high-cheekboned women at the Susan/Jacobs Modeling Agency here.

“At last the cloud that has hung over us like a turtle is lifted,” said Elise-Ann Jacoby in an accent that careens back and forth between proper boarding school English and her native French.  “Now perhaps we can live in the peace our hearts desire and marry famous American football players.”

“This one’s for you, Gisele!”


Jacoby is a “supermodel,” a minority group that has suffered under a vexing disability since researchers at the nexus of fashion and professional football noticed a disturbing trend; an NFL quarterback’s passer rating is negatively impacted by dating, sex with and marriage to a supermodel.

“If you look at Tom Brady’s career, he’s on an upwards trajectory until 2006, when he met supermodel Gisele Bundchen,” says’s Hank Brandnewjetski.  “They get married in 2009, he gets a hoo-doo on him and drops two straight Super Bowls to the New York Giants on mysteriously miraculous catches.  There’s no other explanation.”  The phenomenon came to be called the “Curse of Gisele” to Boston-area sports fans, who viewed the X-year span from Patriots’ victories in Super Bowls XXXIX and XLIX as the IInd-worst championship drought in history after the LXXXVI-year period during which the Red Sox went without a World Series victory after trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees, commonly known as the “Curse of the Bambino.”

A “supermodel” is a highly paid fashion model with a worldwide reputation.  A “Super Bowl” is a series of television commercials periodically interrupted by American professional football.

Kloss, Bradford:  “Seriously, coach–my QB rating will be fine!”


Academic researchers eager to replicate Brandnewjetski’s results were encouraged when St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford began dating supermodel Karlie Kloss, and peer-reviewed papers have now been published that confirm the early conjectures of footballologists.  “Sam Bradford is maybe the biggest bust ever for a #1 draft pick,” says Dr. Nolan Coelho of Indiana University’s School of Sports Medical Studies.  “Karlie Kloss, on the other hand, is majorly supermodelish.”

NFL to Review Pats Fans’ Lucky Underwear

BOSTON.  To Del Stebbins, former Assistant Director of Officiating for the National Football League, the first tip-off that something was wrong yesterday came at around 7 p.m. when he “answered nature’s call” at McGreevey’s, a sports bar visible from the Massachusetts Turnpike.  “I looked down and saw this guy next to me had his official New England Patriots underwear on inside out,” he says as he prepares a written report to Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner.  “I didn’t think anything of it until that kid Butler made the play,” he adds, referring to the last-second interception that clinched the Pats’ 28-24 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks.  “Then, the links between the disparate pieces of the sinister plot became apparent.”

“The fault was not in their stars, but in their pants.”


Stebbins is referring to a conspiracy to violate NFL rules by superstitious means on the part of Tony Murphy, the man at the next urinal, and other Patriots fans who used supernatural powers to aid the Patriots, in much the same manner that a lineman pushes a running back from behind.  “We have reports from New Hampshire to Rhode Island that New England fans wore lucky underwear and other articles of clothing in a manner contrary to NFL guidelines,” said Pete Chimailis, who monitors fashion-related superstitions for the league.  “We take this sort of thing very seriously, unlike concussions and domestic abuse.”

“Dear Lord, if the Pats win I’ll never drink anything but light beer again.”


Professional football fans are permitted to reverse lucky articles of clothing only when the teams they root for are in “rally” mode, trailing by at least ten points with less than two minutes to play.  Wearing a jersey or hat in an unconventional manner can add “mojo” or “juju” to the effectiveness of lucky clothes, and is accordingly banned as a performance-enhancing stimulant.

Massachusetts is the most highly-educated state in the nation with more than 40% of its residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree, but belief in the influence of supernatural powers over seemingly trivial events persists among many.  “Our ancestors believed that a witch could make your cow sick,” notes Professor Emil Brodowski at the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk.  “Four hundred years later, the descendants of those people are convinced that their boxer shorts can neutralize a loud-mouthed cornerback in a cover-2 alignment.”

Evil prevails!


While some called sour grapes as the Patriots celebrated their fourth Super Bowl win in the last fifteen years, others supported the league’s inquiry.  “There’s really no explanation other than witchcraft for their success,” said Emily Girardin, author of The Necromancer’s Guide to Pro Football, “unless it’s a brain cramp on the part of your offensive coordinator.”

At the Ancient Greek Bovine Beauty Contest

Mention the words “beauty contest” to an ancient Greek and his first thought would probably be of cows.

Peter Thonemann, review of “Beauty” by David Konstan, Wall Street Journal

“You are so beautiful–to me.”


I’m standing backstage at the Miss Ancient Greece competition, waiting to be introduced with the other judges.  I check my watch–one century Before Christ, whoever he is.  We’re on in three, two, one . . .

We’re introduced by Telemachus Parks, who’s been hosting the show since–I don’t know–two centuries B.C.?  Everybody’s lost count it’s been so long, and yet–he never seems to age.

The “Bag-Over-the-Head” portion of the competition.


The lovely young heifers are paraded before us and I have to admit, my mouth is watering.  I’ve resisted the temptation to tuck into a Beauty Burger in the days running up to the competition, and the sight of such gorgeous creatures has its natural effect on me.

“You know you’re drooling–right?”  It’s Helen of Thrace.  We couldn’t get Helen of Troy, who is barred for breaching the morals clause of her long-term contract.  Don’t know what got into her, leaving her husband and daughter for Paris–and I don’t mean the capital and most populous city of the country that will be known as France someday.

“Thanks,” I say, as I dab at the corners of my mouth.  What a horrible loss of self-control, or as we say in Greece, enkrateiaHope no potential endorsement clients noticed!

First, as always, comes the talent competition, the most tedious part of the pageant.  How many baton-twirling, ventriloquist, roller-skating cows singing “This is MY city-state!” can a grown-man stand.  I tap my kalamos (reed pen) on the dais, counting the seconds while a young cow from Sparta juggles while gargling water.  Sorry sweetheart–better keep your day job.

Next, the swim suit competition–much better.  The “gals” sashay back and forth across the stage, their udders standing at pointy attention beneath the ancient precursor to polyester nylon.  I need to judge this portion of the pageant verrrry carefully.  It would be so unfair if I let my attention slip for a single second!

“You’re drooling again.”  It’s the Thracian scold–what’s her problem, is she some kind of femininst avant la lettre?

I take my responsibilities seriously,” I say, and rather stiffly I might add.

“Hmm,” she hmms.  “I’d have thought you’d be into young boys.”

I give her my best so-funny-I-forgot-to-laugh look, without, however, actually looking in her direction.  I might miss the rigid nippers on Miss Chalcedon.

Miss Greek Tragedy, 99 B.C.


The ball-gown competition is next, and I have to admit I feel sorry for the contestants.  How they ever find a size 208 to wear, when even Lane Bryant only goes up to a 32 (58-52-60) is beyond me.

where to measure

I check my scorecard as we enter the always difficult “question and answer” part of the program, which–for those of you keeping score at home, consists of a “question” that contestants must “answer.”  I have Miss Chalcedon ahead on points.  I try to sneak a peek at Madame Thrace’s card, but she raises her shoulder, blocking my view.  “Excuse me!” I say, bristling at her suggestion that I’m engaged in some kind of dishonesty.  It’s not like this is Intro to Greek Tragedy at the Athens Gymnasium!

Have to say, I’m rooting for Miss Chalcedon.  She has the fresh, cow-next-door look that the cattle from the big cities like Athens and Sparta lack.  I just hope she gets a softball question!

She strides forward to the mike, chews on her cud for a moment to clear her throat, and assumes a stance of anxious readiness.

“Your best friend Boopis and you are both being considered for sacrifice to Zeus.  When the fateful day arrives, it is she–not you–who is chosen.”

A cloud comes over Miss Chalcedon face.  There are no flash-cards for this sort of high-tension test, and what could be more troubling to an innocent Greek cow than having to choose between loyalty to a friend, and serving as sacrificial offering to Zeus.

“Do you–congratulate her, thereby exposing yourself to ridicule as insufficiently devout,” Telemachus Parks recites with an air of Greek drama, “or do you run off the nearest cliff into the Aegean Sea?”

There is an air of anticipation hanging over the open-air amphitheatre; Miss Chalcedon looks from the emcee to her parents, sitting down front, knowing their little heifer isn’t the brightest candle in the barn, but hoping she won’t blow it.  “I personally believe,” Miss Chalcedon begins, “that we, as ancient Greeks, must do everything we can to honor Zeus, who is after all the ‘Father of Gods and men.'”  She makes little air quotes as she says this, to add a cute touch of emphasis, but also to buy time.  “On the other hand,  ‘philia’–a kind of affection or feeling or something towards not just one’s friends, but also family members, business partners, groaty old philosophers like Socrates and one’s country at large–is also very important, and I think Zeus thinks about that a lot, too, so he wouldn’t have a problem with it if I congratulated Boopis, who like you said in your question is my very best friend.”

A massive sigh–an exhale of relief from the audience–is followed by an outburst of applause that could be heard 26.2 miles away at Marathon.

“She nailed it!” I say, turning to Helen of Thrace and giving her a big hug.

“What happened to your thin veil of objectivity?” she snorts.

I recover myself, not wanting to tip my hand.  “Sorry,” I say.  “I just didn’t want her to end up in a blooper reel on tomorrow’s news for one of the Top 5 Beauty Pageant Gaffes.”


Long Story Short . . .

I write to make cruel but justified sport
of people who use the phrase “long story short.”
You can bet–if you happen to think that I’m wrong–
when those words are heard a tale’s gone on too long.

To say them, of course, only makes the thing longer
which makes my objection just that much stronger.
I’ll tell you one thing and I mean it, old sport—
Why can’t you contrive to just keep the thing short?

You say you dropped excess words–“To make a.”
I appreciate that, but I think you’re a fake-a.
Your story is still near the size of King Kong.
It’s a PBS pledge drive—a Grateful Dead song.

I’m not very fond of you rambling sorts—
who seem to think talking’s a spectator sport.
Your monologue dates from a prior millennium
If there exist any longer, I’d sure hate to see ‘em.

And so let me close with some linguistic mortar—
To stick ‘twixt the bricks of your verbal disorder:
If when next I see you your mouth is still talkin’ it—
I’ll take off one shoe and put a sock in it.

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