Tag Archives: storytelling

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Nine

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent.
The ballroom door opened and who should enter but Malcolm Tent who could not hide the suspicion in his eyes. “Oh, there you are. I noticed you were missing from the party.” He stopped abruptly when he noticed Eddie’s bare chest. “Young man, you’re not wearing a shirt.”

“I’m jest bein’ stylish.” Eddie stuck his chin out with pride.

“Skin is in.” Andy stood uncomfortably close to the inspector, his eyes roaming up and down Tent’s body.

Tent quickly stepped aside. “So. What have we going on here? A conspiracy?”

“We don’t have a conspiracy.” Eddie emitted a laugh that would not be allowed in Buckingham Palace. “Yo’re the one who—“

“Oh Eddie!” Millicent had to think fast before Eddie spilled the beans. “You have such a fabulous body! I can’t keep my hands off you!” She pushed him back onto to the chaise lounge and jumped on top of him, planting kisses all over his face.

Andy again sidled next to Tent. “Oh that Millicent! She’s so loyal to the royal family.” He stroked the lapel of Tent’s coat. “I think black is sooo sexy.”

“Egad!” Tent moved away as far away from Andy as he could without jumping out the window. It was his turn to break into a soliloquy.

As chief inspector Malcom Tent my name commands respect
But that won’t pay for the lifestyle I have come to expect.
So that is why I am so sly to run a protection racket.
Tonight’s the night I clinch the deal with the contents of that packet.
Those meddling fools are in the way of that I have no doubt.
I got to stop the man in red before he finds me out.

Andy, Eddie and Millicent converged on the lounge with their own serious patter.

We’ll work and work to save the dough earned by the innocent.
We will not rest until we lock up mean old Malcolm Tent.

The inspector was so engrossed in his own thoughts he didn’t notice their collusion.

I worked the streets for all those years. I made all those arrests.
I never got the fame I earned even though I was the best.
The shopkeepers will pay the price of Astin’s sin of pride.
I worked the system so complete and all from the inside.
So that is why the villain in this pastiche is plain for all to see.
In fact this story is pretty dull without the likes of li’l ol’ me!

After he finished his soul searching, he turned back to the group to observe their cozy situation on the lounge.

Noticing that Tent was noticing, Millicent leaned back into the prince. “By, the way, Eddie, have you talked to your grandmother yet about our marriage?”

“Gosh, I’m sorry, Millie, honey. I keep fergittin’.” Eddie stood and slapped himself for being so scatterbrained.

Millicent went to him and patted his bare chest. “That’s all right. First we’ll teach you to remember to wear a shirt, and then we’ll work on your remembering to ask for permission to marry.”

“Shirt, marriage,” he repeated in earnest.

Millicent reinforced her request with positive incentives. “Shirt.” Kiss. “Marriage.” Kiss.

Tent interrupted their lesson. “Pardon me for being so bold, Prince Edward, but why do you talk like that?”

“Talk like what?” Perhaps it was Millicent’s training methods, but Eddie responded in the Queen’s English.

The Baby Shower Part One

I was looking forward to flying with my son to New York for my daughter’s baby shower on Labor Day weekend. All my son-in-law’s relatives were to be there, and they are a lot of fun. We’d fly up on Friday, help them with the preparations on Saturday, enjoy the party on Sunday and fly back on Monday. What could be easier than that? My only problem was that I wasn’t paying attention to the weather.
Yes, we were having late afternoon rain but that’s sort of a Florida tradition, isn’t it?
The sun was shining when we arrived at the airport. We checked in, got checked out by security and settled in by our gate to wait for our departure. Then the afternoon clouds formed. Darn, I was hoping to take off before the rain began. With lightning and thunder.
What had not registered with my mind was that there was a low pressure trough lingering off Tampa Bay up to Apalachicola. It was now a tropical storm and wasn’t going away anytime soon. Someone came over the loud speaker to announce all flights had been delayed because of the lightning. Thirty minutes. That wasn’t too bad.
At the end of the thirty minutes lightning was still popping over the airport so the departure was delayed again. At the end of that thirty minutes the loud speaker person said the flight was now on schedule but they were looking for a pilot.
Well, that caught my attention. I thought getting a pilot was at the top of the check list for scheduling a flight, not a last minute afterthought.
By this time the clock was approaching 8 p.m. The storm had abated but evidently still no pilot. The announcer came back on and said the flight was canceled because of turbulent weather and that passengers would have to go to the gate counter to get a card with the emergency number to call to reschedule.
This is why I like traveling with my son. He took care of things like for me now that I am a senior citizen. The newest aggravation was that when the person on the other end of the phone was about to give him important information the loud speaker blared out instructions for passengers at other gates. The best we could do was go back home, an hour’s drive away, and take off the next morning.
The airline offered to make reservations for us at a nearby hotel, but it wasn’t going to pay for it. If the official reason for the cancellation had been no pilot, then it would have been the airline’s fault; but, since the reason was bad weather, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. No thanks, we went home.
The nice thing about the flight the next day was that there was only an hour’s layover in Atlanta which was a nice convenient amount of time to walk from one gate to another. On the transfer plane I knew we were landing in White Plains because I saw a lot of Gucci bags walking down the aisle. (I’d take time to explain that joke but I’m still too tired from the trip.)

My Son’s Birthday


For my son’s 44th birthday he wanted something different than our usual dinner and a movie. I’m always up for an adventure, but I didn’t realize I was going to enter the mind-warping world of virtual reality.
It was a place called Void at Disney Springs in Orlando. Forty years ago they called the lakeside shopping center Disney Marketplace. Then they updated and expanded it under the name Disney Village. Now it’s been tripled in size and added a giant parking garage so it needed the new moniker.
This was not our first encounter with Disney Springs. Two Christmas Eves ago my son and I went over for a different holiday experience. We ate at this expensive steak restaurant and within half an hour I was puking my guts out. As much as the meal cost, it should have come with sick bags.
Luckily this time we were more interested in the live occurrence than the food. My son bought tickets for a specific time online so we didn’t have to wait too long, although we did have to fill forms clearing them of any responsibility if the virtual reality show made us sick. The restaurant could have used those warnings.
The situation was this: we were the good guys who had stolen Storm Trooper uniforms and we were on a mission to save the princess or steal plans for the Death Star or something else just as dangerous. We put on a power pack, got a rifle and a helmet. When the helmet’s visor lowered we were in complete darkness until the show began.
This was one of those exercises in trust where you were led into a room, totally without vision. Then when the switch was flipped we were in a science fiction world worthy of the George Lucas name. We weren’t really moving but somehow walked down this dark hallway when Storm Troopers started jumping out at us, and we had to shoot them. I actually felt the impact of their blasters, and when I looked down I saw singed dents in my virtual uniform.
At some point our guides directed us into another room which was no more than three steps away but felt further than that. After all, it was virtual reality. In front of me was an opening in the fortress tower and below was a river of lava. We had to cross an iron grid bridge with no handrails.
How on earth did this pass safety regulations? One false step, and I would fall into the lava. That wouldn’t be good. Then I remembered I was in a virtual reality. I was walking on durable commercial-grade carpet. One step either way wouldn’t make any difference. But I had trouble convincing myself of that. I actually felt dizzy like I was going to fall down.
That’s when I virtually slapped my face and told me to get a grip. I didn’t want to really fall down and embarrass my son. Although at the time I didn’t exactly where he was. We were in a small group of virtual warriors and all the Storm Troopers looked alike.
So I bucked up and crossed the bridge only to find myself confronted by a giant dragon rising from the lava. We all focused our fire on him and he soon melted away. I did have lingering doubts about how a dragon that lived in lava could be done in by a few laser shots.
But there was no time to waste. We had to find the princess/the Death Star plans/whatever. In the fourth and final room we saw what we came for, but, of course, you-know-who was standing in the way—Darth Vader himself. Well, I lost it and unloaded my blaster into him. After all he was the one who killed Obi Wan Kenobe.
We didn’t kill him, but a voice did come through our headsets telling us we had recovered the object we came for and we could now escape the empire fortress. On the way out we had our pictures taken. I tried to look like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo shooting his rifle and screaming at the same time. Instead I looked like some demented old man who needed to be taken back to the Home immediately.
For lunch we ate at a huge fast food place across the plaza from the Void. It wasn’t fancy or expensive, but at least it didn’t make me throw up. All in all it was a fun day. I didn’t embarrass my son too much. That was the least I could do considering it was his birthday.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Eight

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet.
Andy nodded and took a few steps toward the fireplace. “I miss Bedelia desperately. And I hate this masquerade. It’s turned her against me.”

“But it’s necessary to delude the chief inspector into thinking you’re no threat to him.” Millicent tried to console him.

“I know, but Bedelia thinks I’m—“

“Happy?” Eddie interjected.

“That’s not quite the word we’re thinking of.” Millicent raised an eyebrow.

“Since I have opened my dress shop in Soho I have been able to ingratiate myself to the baker next door. I buy all his pastries at the end of the day to hand them out to the children on the street. He agreed to include in his extortion packet a note to the chief inspector asking for a delay in the next payment. He will carefully detail the entire operation. One of Tent’s henchmen will pick up the packet tonight and if I’m not mistaken he will deliver to him right here at the party. If we can get our hands on that packet, we can put the inspector away.”

“Where?” Eddie asked innocently.

“What?” Andy wrinkled his brow.

“You said you wuz goin’ to put the inspector away. Away where?

“Hopefully, the Tower of London,” Millicent replied.

Eddie nodded. “Oh. I’ve had some relatives there.”

“But why do you think it will be delivered here?” Millicent inquired.

“I have discreetly followed the henchman from the bakery after he picked up the payment, and he has always gone directly to Tent. Since Tent is here tonight, I think the henchman will be knocking at your door any second.”

“That makes sense,” Millicent agreed.

“Yeah, and prob’ly pounds too.” Eddie nodded vigorously. “Maybe a few crowns and farthings.”

Andy and Millicent turned to glower at him. He cowered like a whipped puppy.

“I’m sorry.”

Andy shook his head and continued talking to Millicent. “Do you think we should bring your mother in on our plan?”

“Oh no,” Millicent replied. “She loves to gossip. She’d tell everyone she’s working undercover for the Queen of England.”

“Wull, whut kind of work could she do under the bedcovers?” Eddie made another valiant effort to be part of the conversation.

“Eddie, will you please shut up!” Millicent immediately regretted snapping at her beau, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, which brightened his face considerably.

Rubbing Tummies

I used to have a black lab mix which my wife insisted we adopt about thirteen years ago because the dog had a cute face. Forget that those honking big puppy paws meant she was going to be the size of a bull mastiff. How adorable that she could walk on the back of the sofa. What grace. What style. Eventually she got so big she couldn’t walk atop the sofa and fell off, looking at me as though I had done something wrong.
Then she went through her bratty years. I could not pet her back leg without her growling and exposing her teeth. I kept petting her leg but lightly slapped her mouth. What kind of mixed message that sent out I don’t know. I’m not a dog whisperer. She liked to chew on my prescription lensed glasses. This was getting expensive until my doctor told me to buy No. 2 grade magnifying glasses at the drug store.
As she matured she started liking the way I patted her belly; in fact, she would position herself in front of me so I couldn’t move unless I leaned over to pet her. They developed into full-blown tummy rubs. Usually after the rubs she’d prance around the room like she had just scored the winning touchdown. She quit eating my glasses but she did like to carry around my socks and handkerchiefs, tossing them in the air and catching them on her nose. In fact, she could not sleep unless she was cuddling something that was drenched in my body odor.
She’s gone now. Towards the end, I didn’t rub her tummy as often as I had. She stood patiently while I stroked her underside and afterwards she gave me an appreciative look before settling on her designated spot on the sofa.
This reminds me that as we get older we forget to be kind to the people we are closest to, not because we don’t care but because we focus on the constant crick in our sacroiliacs. Our loved ones seem to understand but they still appreciate it when we remember. And when they leave–like my wife and the dog have done–it’s too late for that caress.
(Author’s note: Please realize this is only a metaphor for life. Only rub the bellies of your long-time pets who may be expecting it. Do not rub the belly of a dog that does not belong to you. If you do and the dog bites, don’t demand the dog’s owner pay for your doctor bill. Also, do not attempt to rub the tummies of long-time friends and relatives. This could result in being arrested and held for psychological examination. Repeat: this is only a metaphor on how we should treat our loved ones.)
On the other hand, if you have been married to your spouse for 40 or more years, and you can’t remember the last time you rubbed his or her tummy, please do so sometime this evening. I think you will be in for a pleasant surprise.

Letters

Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado
July 8, 1895
123 Main St.
Enid, Oklahoma

My Dear Wife,
I miss you terribly and hope the company will soon recognize my talents and promote me to vice president in charge of sales so I may enjoy your company more often. With luck, I shall return to you by the middle of August. The weather in Colorado is pleasant enough but I would sacrifice my comfort to be under the torrid Oklahoma sun with you and the children. Tell the children I shall take them on a great camping adventure before school starts. How is Edward Junior recuperating from his bout of chicken pox? I must be off to my next appointment soon in a small town called Golden. It reminds me of your lovely locks.
With love,
Your Husband

Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

July 8, 1895
321 Main St.
Waxahachie, Texas

My Dear Wife,
I miss you terribly and hope the company will soon recognize my talents and promote me to vice president in charge of sales so I may enjoy your company more often. With luck, I shall return to you by the first of August. The weather in Colorado is pleasant enough but I would sacrifice my comfort to be under the torrid Texas sun with you and the children. Tell the children I shall take them on a great camping adventure before school starts. How is Edwina recuperating from her bout of measles? I must be off to my next appointment in a nearby town called Red Bud. It reminds me of your lovely locks.
With Love,
Your Husband

321 Main St.
Waxahachie, Texas

July 18, 1895
Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

My Dear Husband,
I am quite confused. We live in Texas, not Oklahoma and we have a daughter Edwina, not a son Edward Junior. I have red hair, not blonde. Edwina is terribly afraid of the outdoors and the little creatures that inhabit it so she would not enjoy a camping trip. She had chicken pox, not measles. I reread your letter several times thinking I must have misunderstood it. As you have pointed out to me several times I do have a tendency to misunderstand the simplest of statements. I will continue my sessions with Dr. Fitzmorgan in Dallas. I’m sure he will straighten this out for me.
With Love,
Your Wife

123 Main St.
Enid, Oklahoma

Aug. 4, 1895
Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

To My Soon-To-Be Former Husband,
Don’t bother to come home, you lying, cheating scoundrel. You should have realized you were not clever enough to have two wives at one time. To refresh your memory, I am the blonde-haired woman living in Oklahoma with our son Edward Junior, who by the way had measles not chicken pox. I exchanged several telegraphs with the lady residing in Waxahachie, Texas. She has canceled all her appointments with her doctor in Dallas and has engaged a lawyer. I have also hired a lawyer. Please expect a letter from the main office of your company stating you have been dismissed from your job because of a complete lack of morals. I must be off now to visit my mother and to apologize. She was right about you.
With absolutely no love,
Your Soon-To-Be Former Wife

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Seven

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet.
Before Bedelia had time to inquire of Millicent what she meant by that statement, Prince Edward, the handsome but stupid grandson of Queen Victoria, bounded through the door wearing a huge grin but, as usual no shirt under his tasteful evening jacket. He headed to Andy who was stealing furtive starry-eyed glances at Bedelia.

“Hey Andy! Granny Vicky jest talked to me—“ Eddie stopped abruptly when he noticed Millicent, who had sprang from the chaise lounge and was headed his way. “Oh. Hey, Millie!” For some reason, official spokesmen from Buckingham Palace could not explain why Eddie spoke with a pronounced hillbilly accent, which was particularly odd since he had never visited the Appalachian mountains in the former colonies.

Andy turned to the prince and ogled him through the monocle. “Oh, Eddie, I just love the way you’re almost properly attired.

Bedelia resumes bawling, burying her head in the tufts of the lounge.

“I fergot to wear my shirt ag’in!”

“Don’t tell,” Andy advised him. “Maybe everyone will just think you’re being stylish. Skin is in.”

Bedelia began kicking her feet in frustration. Millicent gently lifted her from the lounge and guided her toward the door. “Don’t take on so, dear. Let’s go into the ballroom. Maybe you’ll find a nice jockey to talk to.”

After they left the room, Andy relaxed his posture and held his head in his hands.

“Yes, sir.” Eddie saluted Andy.

“You don’t have to call me sir, Eddie. After all, you’re the prince, not me.”

“Oh yeah.” He let out a humble chuckle. “I keep forgettin’ that.”

Millicent returned, shaking her head. “Poor Bedelia. She’s so distraught over mother, and the only jockey present had his teeth kicked in by a particularly irritable racehorse. I’m letting her have a good cry in my room. She said she’d rejoin the party when she felt better.” Looking up she noticed Eddie’s attire and rushed over to rub his bare chest. “I just love it when you forget your shirt.” This launched her own saucy soliloquy.

Sexy Eddie, you’re a flirt, forgetting to wear your shirt.
And you got a tight hard belly which makes me turn to jelly.
Your big chest is better than all the rest.
Your bulging arms have their own special charms.
You’re Queen Victoria’s hunky grandson,
One day you will be the king but for now I want that thing!
Someday I want to wear your ring but for now I want a fling!
Good looking Eddie, be my steady.
And be the beefcake of my dreams.

Millicent finally came to her senses, pulled away from Eddie’s torso and forced herself to concentrate on Andy.
“Bedelia is trying so hard to be friends with your mother,” Andy bemoaned.

“I know. I love mother dearly, but she is a snob.”

“Of course, she’s a snob,” Eddie butted in. “Warn’t her pa the famous actor—“

“Please, Eddie,” Millicent said, “I think we’ve milked that joke for all it’s worth.”

“I was just about to tell Eddie that I’ve convinced several shopkeepers to admit to me privately that the chief inspector—“

“Malcontent.” Poor Eddie. He so wanted to be part of the conversation.

“No, no, Eddie,” she corrected him. “That’s Malcolm Tent. Say Mal.”

“Mal”.

“Say colm.”

“Colm.”

“Say Tent.”

“Tent.”

“Malcolm Tent.”

“Malcontent.”

“Millicent, let it go,” Andy whispered in her ear. “He’s never going to get it.” Turning back to Eddie, he smiled sympathetically. “As I was saying, Malcolm Tent has been extorting massive payments to keep his henchmen from robbing them. Of course, the shopkeepers are grateful to the Man in the Red Underwear for thwarting the robberies in the past few weeks.”

“What makes me angry is that the actual robbers then turn around and report to the arriving bobbies that they kept the Man in the Red Underwear from committing the crime,” Millicent said in frustration.

“The problem, however, is that the shopkeepers don’t want to risk testifying in court against the chief inspector,” Andy added.

(Author’s Note: Now you folks better remember this. I know it’s dull, but it’s very important. It’s called plot exposition.)

“Yeah, Granny Vicky thought it was strange when Soho all of a sudden started havin’ a crime wave,” Eddie said.

“That’s when she asked Eddie and me to find out what was behind it all. I mean, no one would suspect the Queen of asking Eddie to do anything so important.”

“And when you contacted me I was glad to come to the aid of two dear old friends.” Andy nodded to each of them.

“And to reacquaint yourself with another old friend?” A minor teasing tone entered Millicent’s voice.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Six

Unfortunately the passionate spell was broken when Cecelia charged through the door with Millicent on her heels.
“Do you feel that burp coming on yet?”

“Mother’s humor has evolved into something quite bizarre lately. You must forgive her.” Millicent motioned to the liquor cabinet. “Andy, would you care for a drink?”

Turning from his close proximity to Bedelia, he clapped his hands as though his mother had just offered him ice cream. “Ooh, I want something with lots and lots of grenadine.”

Cecelia, stuck in the middle of the room with Bedelia, kept reminding herself she must be a cordial hostess even though she was totally mystified by the young lady standing in front of her. The only comment that came to her mind was about Andy.

“I simply cannot believe the change in Lord Taylor.”

“Neither can I.”

Cecelia realized that conversation was going nowhere fast so she appraised Bedelia’s attire. “Well, you must be an accomplished horsewoman.”

“Oh, I don’t ride.” She blushed. “I’m afraid of horses, actually. No, I wear these clothes because I think they look smashing on me. Don’t you think? And mother is so pleased to see me in pants.

Cecelia, who was a champion in small talk, decided to throw in the towel on this conversation. As she walked away to nowhere in particular, Cecelia threw over her should, “She would.”

Bedelia, though beautiful, could be dense at times. Not realizing she was being sloughed off, she followed Cecelia across the room. “And I love this riding crop. I can crack it on my pants any time—you know it really doesn’t hurt—to emphasize a point in a conversation. See, like this.” She slapped her smart mauve riding pants with the crop.

“You ninny.” Cecelia rolled her eyes.

“Oh no. I’d never take a position caring for other people’s children.” Bedelia shook her head with a laugh. “I don’t know yet what I want to have as a profession, but I would never—“

“I said ninny, not nanny, you ninny!” After giving Bedelia an appropriately haughty glare, Cecelia swirled around and went into the ballroom.
Bedelia collapsed on the lounge and melted into tears. Across the room, Millicent finished concocting Andy’s cocktail which, per his instructions, had lots and lots of grenadine in it. She handed it to him and excused herself. “Poor Bedelia. I’ll be back in a minute, Andy.”

“Of course,” he replied, sipping his drink. Immediately Andy grimaced, spit the contents back in the glass, put it on the cabinet, wandered back to the oriental screen and pulled out his monocle on a stick for another inspection.

“Bedelia, please don’t let mother upset you.” Millicent sat next to her and patted her hand.

“I try so hard to be nice to her. Why doesn’t she like me?”

“Sometimes, dear, it’s not so smart to be smart.” She paused to give a knowing little smile. “Or, shall I say, a Smart?”

Hope

“Old age is a slow downward spiral into the abyss. Fighting the inevitable is futile. No doubt about it, life will knock you on your ass and there’s not a thing you can do about it. However, complete surrender means the acceptance of the end without hope. Life without hope is unbearable.” The old man finished his glass of white wine and looked around the table at the young men who appeared to be hanging on his every word. “Anybody want another beer?”
“Oh, yes sir.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The young men, all in their early twenties, smiled and nodded. The old man motioned to the bartender.
“I want another white wine, and give each of these fine gentlemen the beer of their choice.” He waited until all the orders were taken. “Personally, I don’t know the difference between one beer and another. I think I would gag if I tried to drink one. Oh, this is not to impugn the taste of any of you gentlemen. It’s a bit like Bill Clinton when he said he couldn’t inhale marijuana. I knew exactly what he meant. I couldn’t swallow cigarette smoke. Made me gag.”
The drinks arrived, and a low murmur overtook their corner of the bar.
“The reason I cannot drink beer is entirely psychological,” he continued as he sipped his wine. “My brother was an alcoholic—no, a drunk. He didn’t go to the meetings so he couldn’t be an alcoholic. He sat at home and drank one beer after another and told me how I was going to be a complete failure in life.” He took another sip. “He was dead a week before any of the neighbors noticed they hadn’t seen him. Now I can drink almost any kind of liquor. Really like a nice margarita or anything with rum. Southern Comfort makes me sick to my stomach though. Wine is nice. It’s a shame this place doesn’t have a full liquor license.”
The old man looked at his wristwatch and squinted. “I can’t read the damned time. My wife bought me this watch because it looked pretty. It doesn’t make any difference if the watch is pretty if the numbers on the damned face are too small to read. What time is it?”
“Almost nine o’clock, sir,” one of the young men said.
“Oh my goodness,” the old man replied with a jostle, glancing at the bartender. “Will you please bring me the bill? My wife will be here soon to pick me up. The woman has the silly idea I shouldn’t be driving after I’ve had a couple glasses of wine.” He looked toward the bar again. “And add another round of beers for my young friends here.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“We appreciate it, sir.”
“There are some old farts who say the younger generation isn’t worth a damn, but they’re wrong. You young men listen to me without ever interrupting. Do you know how often I get interrupted at home? All the time, that’s how often. Anyway, I hope to see you all next week at the same time.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Our pleasure, sir.”
“I wouldn’t blame you if you decide it’s not worth the free beer to have to listen to this old fart,” he said, standing, “and not bother to show up.”
“Oh no, sir.”
“Not at all, sir.”
“I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t show up, but appreciate it if you do.” He looked at them and smiled. “There’s always hope.”

All That Music and Not a Note to Hear

I’m in the massive task of downsizing 44 years of living so I can move into an apartment. Actually, it’s more than the years I was married but an additional 40 years of memories from my mother-in-law. My wife and I adopted them like they were orphans.
These orphans are 78 vinyl records. For years we rationalized storing them in closets because they were going to be some magical source of retirement income. We even had one extra-thick record from the Thomas Edison Company. No, not the one of him reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb, but some kind of music. I looked it up on eBay, and it was worth only a buck fifty. A lot of Bing Crosby too, but he was so popular his records are worth less than Edison’s.
If you wanted to get any cash out of this stack they had to be by someone no one ever heard of before. Well, not just any nobody. It had to be somebody whose talent was been discovered after the artist died with only one or two albums made. And those album covers had to be in pristine shape. Vinyl with no cover was only worth molding into salad bowls.
Believe it or not, my wife Janet and I found a few records that fit that criteria. We thought we’d at least put them on display in our living room bookcase. Like a conversation item. Then we let this woman sleep in our living room because she had left her husband and her parents wouldn’t let her bring her pet dogs into their house. The doggies just loved the glue used on those record covers so there went the conversation value of those.
Since Janet died I kept them thinking I might want to listen to them myself. That way, they’d have some value, even if it were just for me. Recently I tried to play them but they didn’t sound right. Then I realized my player only had speeds of 45 and 33 1/3. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to find an old Victrola to play them. And if I did find one, it would cost too much. I’m old. I’m trying to save money, not spend more of it.
My deadline of clearing out the house is coming up after the first of the year, and it looks more and more like I’m just going to make several trips to the local dump ground. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t make any money from them. I’ve never been able to sell anything so why would I want to ruin my perfect record. And there’s no real sentimental value to them, since they had been bought and listened to by my in-laws when they were youngin’s themselves.
My only regret is that I won’t get to listen to them even one time. These were the songs played in the thirties and forties when radio was just catching on and television was some cock-eyed invention in the future. There’s Guy Lombardo waltz tunes, the Ink Spots, Mills Brothers, Perry Como and some group called the Blind Coal Miners of Virginia.
I guess I’ll have to rely on imagination, like I depend on it to visit the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu. At least in my mind, the records won’t have any scratches on them.