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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Be All You Can Be


A little background: The respected London Review of Books introduced a 'Personals' category to its classified pages in 1998.

Known to all literati, the well-respected magazine opened its doors to some of the most witty, fun-to-read personal ads from brainy readers, each, in all seriousness (more or less), trying to outdo the other. 

Originally designed to match intelligent people based on their literary interest, readers immediately ganged up on the personals section for their own purposes. "They were instantly very, very silly," said its originator.

This is the fictional back story of one of those ads, as I imagined. The ad is as it appeared below, names and addresses made up, of course:


“Female, 54. Own all limbs. Seeks man with low priorities. Contact Box 347, this magazine.”

When you are brand new in town and lonely at night, you get desperate.

“Dear Box 347: Where I came from, limbs were optional. Only priority was to wake up the next morning. I am a used-to-be cowboy, also 54, have three of my four limbs but am passionate for someone who can scratch my elbow. I like that about you. Have you a name? I’m box 1438. I want to know more.”

“Dear Lefty: Easy pardner. Let’s go slow-mail to start. I’m intrigued… and a very good scratcher. You can call me Chase, as in ‘the fun of the...’ I’m blond at the moment but can be any color that suits you, tall-ish for a girl and 32-28-34, though not necessarily in that order. Your turn. More please. Chase”

“Oh Chase: Be still my heart. I truly think we may be on to something. I am also on the tall side, lightly graying but full hair, and trim as a ship under full sail. I wear glasses now and size 12 cowboy boots—no innuendo intended. How am I doing so far? Lefty.”

“None taken, Lefty. You are doing fine. I’m a schoolteacher, 6th and 7th grades. I’m molding tomorrow but anxious about today. And you?

“Me too. I’m a cowpoke, ma’am, Was masquerading as a corrections officer one state to the left, as of six days ago, but couldn’t hack the humanity. One-armed cowboys aren’t in great demand these days. My tomorrow is probably a lot less promising than yours. Can we meet?”

“So soon? I thought foreplay lasted longer cowboy.”

“When you are chasin’ a wild mustang, Chase, it lasts as short as it takes. You’re the only thing keeping me here at the moment, and you know cowboys… always looking for the next arroyo.”

“Will 5pm Wednesday at Starbuck fit?”

“Like a rodeo glove. How will I know you?”

“Trust me, you will. And you?”

“Ditto. Can’t wait.”

4:45 p.m: Wednesday, Starbucks: A busy time. Drive-thru filled, line five deep at the counter. Only two open tables, one with a good view. Plunking his cowboy hat on one empty chair, Lefty folds his 6’3 body into the other. With piercing blue eyes centering a weather-chiseled, sun baked face, he watches everyone in the door like a cowpoke checking his herd.

5:15 pm: Cold coffee smells like day-old campfire poison. Late out of the gate means she is a playful tease… I hope. OK, you got me Chase. I’m ready as a bull rider at 3-2-1-let ‘er rip.

5:25 pm: OK Chase… git along little doggie.

5:45 pm: Please, Chase.

6:12 pm: She ain’t comin’. She ain’t comin’. I woulda liked to try. I really… Damn!

6:20 pm: I’m outa here… for good. Hit the road, Jack, one more time.

6:23 p.m Wednesday, same Starbucks: With tears streaming down her cheeks, she watches him walk out of her life. Slowly and with great effort, the gaunt, tall-ish lady holding her two-hour-cold tea, rises from a corner table. She knew in her heart she couldn’t. The imagined, caring romance had gone far beyond her reach, much too soon to be fully savored. The rejection sure to come would be one more blow to an already overwhelmed psyche.

Frightened and feeling even more alone, she adjusts her pink ball cap on the brunette wig that covers her bare head and brushes through the bustling coffee crowd of friends and lovers, all too involved to notice.

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