In case you thought you noticed a listlessness in these parts, a magnification of certain middle-aged tendencies, well, it could be true. Late summer means scrambling to get various projects finished so that weather-sensitive chores can be done on time, generally with the slightly optimistic sense that this time I'm going to get ahead of it all only to realize that it was not just pure laziness that left things undone in previous years but the impossibly complex set of steps which must be completed without regard for anything else. To this one may add a demented mother and the required interactions with doctors and drug peddlers, minor computer glitchettes, football season, cat maintenance, some interesting reading, a bizarre real-life Agatha Christie interlude when I accidentally intercepted a cocktail my next-door neighbor had designed to kill his wife which caused me--so I am told, anyway--to turn ghost white and slump in my chair with my head cocked at an unnatural angle, though I was completely aware of all my surroundings and continued to carry on a conversation, if at a somewhat reduced rate of speed, and stranger still, the recurrence of an eerie psychic phenomenon which has followed me at least since age eleven, wherein I suddenly become irresistible to women. Seriously. Not all women, certainly, but enough. And certainly nothing to do with anything I've done, so far as I can tell, and if I could figure it out, believe me, I'd use it. It's a complete mystery. I'm not a handsome fellow--you can see the picture--and I'm no longer a stylish or particularly fit one, and I mostly mind my own business. I was never particularly flirtatious in my youth. I'd go months without a girlfriend, then suddenly find myself holding two generous scoops of homecoming queen or getting explicit phone calls late into the night from girls I didn't know while my stepfather pounded on the wall. Then it would stop as mysteriously as it started. I exempt my college years from the official history, of course, as the Tee Ball of Sex, but with the first job I took afterwards I slept with all six women who worked in the place without having made a pass at any of them. On one particularly memorable weekend in 1976 I, on successive nights: was thrown out of a women's restroom at last call, together with a woman who was at least five inches taller than I, engendering a standing ovation by the remaining patrons; narrowly avoided being caught in a police searchlight while partly clothed in an alley; was led on a streetlight-running chase across the northside of Indianapolis by a woman I had never spoken to before who walked up and snatched my jacket just for that purpose, and who turned out to be some sort of amateur circus gymnast. She also impersonated my doctor's receptionist calling in sick for me that Monday. In no case had I known any of the women involved two hours earlier, and none of us was drunk, a fortunate thing since I was ticketed for running one of those lights. And those are just the ones I can tell you about.
Now, I've known guys whose entire lives are pretty much like that, but the point is with me it arrives like rain in a Kalahari riverbed, and it struck again last week, a cloudburst of improbably young women standing closer than necessary or holding eye contact a couple seconds too long, and I a happy brimming brook.
It is, of course, a purely theoretical exercise lo these many decades, and, of course, my wife has some sort of natural immunity. Although at one point last weekend I did go upstairs to find the bedroom lit only by Lava Lamp, a bag of clothespins on the bed, and Billy Idol's cover of "To Be A Lover" playing on the dinky bedroom CD player. My wife is no musician, but she does have a particular appreciation of that song's tempo. Think "Bolero" on crank. I'm still having trouble using my left arm.
But then even at my age physical maladies eventually heal, but the mental torture of reading
John Yoo, "How the Presidency Regained Its Balance", New York Times September 17
has shriveled me up like a spider on a hot stove.* I think I've taken six swipes at the thing over the past four days, and they're all sitting unsaved on the desktop. Let us say that Yoo, our foremost proponent of the idea that the Supreme Court issues suggestions, writes 1100 words on the erosion (!) of Presidential authority and George W.'s selfless battle to reverse it. Let us say that he, a professor of law, manages to do so without ever citing the law but while quoting Dick Cheney, who holds the rare distinction of having served in the three most lawless administrations since Reconstruction and while evoking the well-known principle of jurisprudence (forgive me, I don't know the Latin) of "this leads to pork-barrel spending". Let us note, again, that we live in interesting times.
And just let me say that if the occasion arises again I'll happily try to send Yoo a cadre of young nubiles if it'll cure his problem.
* Little Big Man, 1970