Bucks County Writers Workshop
The Marry Month of May by Jules Winistorfer
hicken Soup for Horny Old Men, a hip, self-help paper-back, which I came across some weeks ago while book browsing, changed my life. To be honest, maybe I wasn't really browsing. As a retired English professor at Columbia University and widower of five years, it is entirely possible that I subconsciously craved guidance in matters of the heart, and perhaps other parts of the anatomy. The book is full of apocryphal advice. Of course, I was not always of that opinion; if I were I never would have purchased it. However, before I relate the lamentable results of my adherence to Chicken Soup, I will try to distill its maxims for your better understanding.
The author, whose name escapes me at the moment, says weather, not the date, is the element more responsible for the up-tick in libidinous drive during the month of May. However, even weather pales to other stimulants of romantic attraction. If one were to believe the mythic properties ascribed to the month of May, it would seem a woman passing a man in the park during that month would fling herself into his arms without the slightest provocation, as though Aphrodite herself, cavorting behind a greening fa┴ade, had extended her hand in gentle prod. This is mostly, but not all, poppycock, says Chicken Soup. The thing that most strongly attracts women to men is a dog. Yes, if you want to capture a fair maiden, the thing you must do is buy a dog. Borrowing one sometimes works but it is not strongly recommended.
The number two ploy as a romantic stimulus is supermarket shopping. Women love men who buy their own groceries. The act conveys an aura of self-reliance, not to mention the time-saving clue indicating a probable singularity. In spite of panoramic splashes of color and the euphony of sounds in harmony with wake-up smells, emanating from earth and sky, the month of May. "Weather only" is listed as a weak third place. Of course, the dog or supermarket hooks, although useful any time of year, may be enhanced in effectiveness if used during good weather in the month of May. After reading Chicken Soup, I came to realize that my desire to make a connection with a fine woman was more than a subconscious whim. And, this being the second of May, I thought acting promptly might enhance my chances of success.
I opted for the dog approach. Not that I'd ever wanted to buy a dog, but because one was fortuitously available to me. In spite of its negative recommendation, Chicken Soup failed to quantify the decrease in efficiency due to a borrowed dog, thereby influencing my decision.
My son, Alex, a wealthy, thirty-six year old entrepreneur, who's never been married, has a fifteen room villa in Locust Valley out on the island. When he's away from home, he trusts no one but me to care for his dog, Slick Willie by name, an English Bull with a grotesque under-bite and a slobbery face so ugly people think he's cute.
A day or two after I'd made my dog decision, I called my son. "Alex," I said, "I suppose you'll be asking me to take Slick Willie when you leave for vacation to Hawaii, June 5."
"Yeah. Is there a problem? You've always taken care of him before. I don't know what I'd do if you couldn't take him, he loves you, you know."
"No, no, I'm glad to have Willie. I'd like to get him tomorrow. I've felt the need for some fresh air and, what with the beautiful weather we're having, I can take him for long walks, which I know he loves." Alex agreed. His gardener delivered Willie the next morning, and I immediately leashed up the canine and swung into action. Slick Willie performed like a champion. In less than a half-hour of trolling in Central Park, a handsome woman half my age admired Willie and struck up a conversation.
Chicken Soup, I love you.
Within two weeks, Myrna was spending three or four nights a week at my place, a two room apartment near Columbia University and a veritable Taj Mahal compared to her one room efficiency in the meat packing district.
Lori, my forty-two-year-old daughter, an Olive Oyle look-alike, with a scratchy voice and ungraceful movements, dropped in a couple of times a week to stock my fridge and do my wash, which I greatly appreciated. But when she and Myrna crossed paths, their open hostility soon made me realize a battle for female sovereignty was afoot.
Around the middle of May, Alex threw an expensive catered picnic at his Locust Valley home. A going away party to celebrate his upcoming vacation, he said. A plethora of rich and famous popped in and out, schmoozing in between. I brought Myrna. "So this is Myrna?" Alex said. "I've heard so much about you from Lori " not all good, but I make my own judgments." Alex made a big fuss over Myrna and wished us the best.
"I love Slick Willie," Myrna told him. Alex beamed.
Lori skulked around, avoiding Myrna and me all afternoon, while hanging on the arm of Bobby, the super of my apartment building, a dim-witted fellow, possessed of a high forehead and enormous teeth, which looked as though they'd fall from his face every time he smiled at Lori. I'd never seen them converse let alone date.
In spite of Lori's attempts to interfere, things in the love department were going great for Myrna and me. I even entertained thoughts of proposing marriage but did not want Myrna to feel rushed and possibly be frightened off. Then, without warning, the weather inside my apartment turned frigid. Bobby, in spite of his unimpressive appearance, was a pretty good mechanic and usually fixed problems promptly. This time, however, he claimed there was an air conditioning malfunction that precluded regulation in my apartment and he was waiting for a part.
"Take your pick," he said. "Wear a sweater like you're doing or sweat your ass off if I shut the air down altogether."
Since it was eighty-seven degrees outside for the past week, I elected to keep the air on. The unrelenting chill soon cooled the romantic flame between Myrna and me. Each evening, after dinner, we'd sit around in heavy sweaters and try to watch TV, but by eight o'clock she was gone, along with the prospect of lovemaking.
One Saturday morning, Myrna came by. "When I woke up this morning," she said, "I got to thinking. A faulty thermostat is the only thing that would cause an air conditioning problem like this." She popped the cover off the thermostat and poked around inside with a screwdriver. "Be careful," I said, "You might short something out and then there'd be hell to pay." After a minute or so, I heard the air conditioner click off.
"How about that?" Myrna said, "Somebody disconnected a wire. I wonder who could've done it."
She smiled and snapped the cover back on. Within half an hour my place was a comfortable seventy-three degrees, which conjured up visions of a passion-filled afternoon that was not to be. When Myrna left less than an hour later, I didn't know the reason, nor did I know she would not return " ever.
After Myrna's departure, I went down to the super's office in the basement to inquire why he'd lied to me about the air conditioner part. At the super's desk was a mousy little man with red hair and beard. "I'm here to see the super," I said.
"I'm the super."
"No, no, Bobby with the big teeth."
"Oh, he's gone. Married some chick looks like Olive Oyle. Said they planned to pool their money and open a bed and breakfast in Vermont. Some people just gotta follow their dreams. I'm Fred, the new man." He extended his hand. I'd forgotten why I came down there in the first place.
On June 10, I received a letter from Alex in Hawaii. "Hi, Dad: Thank you so much for introducing me to Myrna. She's the woman I've been looking for all my life. We plan to be married in a few months and live here permanently. I'll pay to have you fly down for the wedding. By the way, Slick Willie is all yours. I know you two love each other and I have every confidence he's in the best hands. Myrna told a little fib the day of my picnic when she said she loved Willie. She actually does not like dogs at all. As a matter of fact she's allergic to them. Love, Alex."
In the end, I suppose money and youth trump canines, supermarkets, and weather every time.
Chicken Soup, you suck!