Humble Rants 21 May 2014

Posted Monday, May 19, 2014 in Opinion

Humble Rants 21 May 2014

By Robert Skoglund aka The humble Farmer

Was it over forty years ago that John Cole and Peter Cox created a newspaper called Maine Times? You might recall that Maine Times contained a personal column infested by long-toothed lovelies. Having scarred up their knees while crawling over the rocks at Pemaquid in heavy fog, they dreamed of moonlight walks on warm sandy beaches. Many of them had graduate degrees in French literature or sociology. Their jargon was laced with ethereal metaphysical terms like “meaningful relationship” --- which any husband will tell you means, “an extra pair of hands to carry out the trash.”  

Much like a skunk that nibbles away your bait every night without actually stepping in the trap, there was a time when I answered several Maine Times personals every week.  Being single and fortyish it was altogether fitting and proper that I should do this. 

Your children would not believe the labor involved in replying to a personal ad before computers and the Internet.  One created a master, painstakingly typed out the required number of copies, and put them in envelopes. A ten-cent stamp would deliver your letter to a post office box in Brunswick from where it was forwarded to “Pert and Pretty” in Portland or “Lonely and Lusting” in Lisbon. 

You have seen countless novels and TV sitcoms starring lackluster men who were undone when they inadvertently mixed letters written to two women. Not a problem when replying to personal ads in 1977 as the letters were identical.  And, who would care anyway, as answering a personal ad was always done in good, clean fun.

Back then, meetings were arranged by phone with those who replied. Like any conservative, logistically-oriented middle-aged man, I initially set up at least three meetings every evening to get the most out of my gas miles.  At five it would be several cups of cocoa with a new friend in Topsham.  Then, on to Windham at six-thirty where we might snap the caps on a couple of quart bottles of ginger ale.  By ten or eleven I might have already shared two pots of tea in Pownal and be safely back home.  

Needless to say, even a young man could not long sustain that nightly regimen and I was forced to cut back when my kidneys gave out.

Back then my hands and feet operated a tractor which dug gardens in season or mowed “horrid ugly bushes” for my neighbors. But --- my mind was on the Maine Times personals. From time to time I’d think of something and the tractor would idle while I wrote it down.

Most of my pleas for companionship contained wordplay and literary, historical or scientific references, geared to titillate an appreciative cognoscenti. The following were penned and published in the aforementioned year. Orthography and suprasegmental phonemes were critical:

“Man wants attractive young woman to help in garden. Call Dr. Rappaccini” 

 “Ornithologist wants to meet attractive young woman willing to sacrifice everything for a few cheep thrills.”   

“Budding pomologist wants attractive scion from good stock willing to go out on limb.” 

“Antique Dealer wants to meet attractive young woman interested in one nightstand.” 

The women who replied to these literary endeavors of a forty-year-old bachelor were quickly sorted into two basic categories. You might ask most any single man in his forties if he still does that today.  Women in the first group are fantastic in every way shape and manner. They knock your socks off and, and although you think of them day and night for the next three weeks, after the first date you swear you’ll never call them again.  Women in the second group are very nice and you are very comfortable with them, and for that reason, after the first date you swear that you’ll never call them again, either. 

In other words, the females that professional bachelors fear the most and avoid getting attached to at all cost are women. 

How then, you ask, did a wily 54-year-old Maine man like humble suddenly find himself married to Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman? 

Quite simply, we never dated.  

We have never had a meaningful relationship. 

The first time she stepped into my house she started to scrub and clean and she enjoys it so much I have never had the heart to ask her to stop. 

 

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