Interpersonal relationships

Women: Woe-to-men

Women: Woe-to-men 

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stairs
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one

(It Was a Very Good Year: Ervin Drake)

My social life at medical school was a monument to heartbreak, lust, lasciviousness and casual indifference. Chalk it up to youth, arrogance or simply a single-minded ambition to succeed at a career, while first leaving any other ancillary part of life to be last.Doctors, in general, are good at this approach to life, which probably accounts for their extremely high divorce and suicide rates.

When I arrived at school, I was still dating the egg farmer’s daughter but became smitten by a stunningly beautiful, exceptionally sweet woman of Norwegian descent who had the uniquely unusual combination of jet-black hair and deep blue eyes.

I met her at a party that I was reluctantly dragged to by George, a Chinese student in my dorm who had come from the University of Minnesota.  Although I was not in a party mood, he said he knew some girls from back home who were working in Boston and wanted me to meet them.

George had the interesting distinction of having made his tuition money by working on Alaska King Crab fishing boats. Despite the fact of this being considered one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, George said the worst part after having survived the raging seas on the fishing trip; was then having to fight off the snarling fangs of wild Alaskan dogs when walking home. He said the trick was to wrap your left arm in a thick towel, then hold it out for the dog to grab. After the dog took the baited arm, you then killed the dog by slitting its throat open with the heavy fish filet knife you kept in your right hand. Jim Bowie didn’t even have it that bad when he explored the North American wilderness.

When I met this woman,  we had such an immediate rapport that although not sleeping together until a few weeks later, we did spend the entire weekend at the apartment where the party had been held. However, it must have been a bad omen for the future of the relationship because my Italian grandmother died that weekend; leaving everyone at home was hot under the collar because I could not be located until the following Monday when I then heard the horribly tragic news.

Somehow, even though she was already cold and blue, according to some family members I had still managed to insult the old lady.

Can you believe it? Grandma died and nobody could find him.

  • Yeah. Poor grandma.
  • Right. He must think that being a prima donna medical student is more important than grandma dying.

It really didn’t matter. She was dead and had no money. Otherwise, the hypocrites would have used my absence  against me in the disposition of her Will. Aside from having to attend the funeral  I also had the unpleasant task of having to announce the death of our relationship to the farmer’s daughter I had left behind at home.

She did not take it well at first, but recovered quickly enough, started dating a Harvard student, moved to Boston and stayed in his apartment. She then tracked me down and we continued to periodically see each other when he was not around or away somewhere. She tried to tell me they were “just good friends,” but I wasn’t  that stupid. To me, it was just free pussy and her guilt or not was her own problem. In fact, they were lovers and later got married.

This was screwy. I was cheating on my new girlfriend with my old girlfriend who was cheating on her new boyfriend with her old boyfriend. To make matters worse, I had good reason to believe that my new girlfriend had sex with her old boyfriend one weekend when he came through town on his way to being shipped out to Viet Nam. She had ended their relationship before she moved to Boston but in holding out a bit of hopeful despair he had enlisted in the army. This is the desperate ploy of “maybe if you think I might die soon, you’ll be sorry and take me back.”

She told me she was letting him stay at her place for two or three days and was going to let him know about us as being more of a final, formal, definitive goodbye. Maybe I was paranoid or simply jealous, but I thought her bedsheets told a different tale when I snuck into her apartment the day he left after she went to work.

To me, they looked like the ones that medieval Royal families hang over the parapets to prove to the peasantry that the Princess and the Prince have indeed consummated their marriage.

I suppose for her it might have been the alternative age-old guilt trip played out as: “I do feel sorry for you and if you happen to die in the jungle you’ll have something nice to remember me by, but I really don’t love you anymore, so here is your good-bye fuck.”

Perhaps it was true. And perhaps not. It didn’t matter to an immature, jealous hypocrite, because not only was it all incredibly screwy but it was also hectically schizoid to say the least, as I began to forget what story I had told to whom or when. I was beginning to drive myself crazy by seeing one woman in Cambridge, then jumping on the MTA to run out to Brookline to see the other one; all on the same day while thinking I had to sexually satisfy them both. Big ego. Bigger sex drive. Big cheater. Bigger bastard.

This is where the cover-up excuse of having to study in the library had its greatest utility as it was also a time before cell phones, GPS devices or e-mail searches could easily ruin the best of alibis. But being in my prime, I could easily orgasm three or four times a day; leaving the only real issue my ability to keep my stories straight. Those were the days! Now I couldn’t get an erection even if I could find the little devil. But at least that keeps me out of potential trouble.

However, over the period of about a year my old girlfriend became more committed to her new boyfriend, then ended our affair when she announced their engagement; while over the same period I was completely trashing my relationship with my new girlfriend. My personality had combined cocky arrogance with condescendingly mean-spiritedness, all topped off with a tincture of casual indifference.

I thought that women were a dime a dozen and that if necessary, she could be easily replaced. However, in short order, I found out the hard way this was not to be the case when one dark, gloomy day in November she dumped me rather abruptly, almost to the day my grandmother had died the year before.

It had rained. Then it had poured.  Then came the great deluge; and when the flood finally receded, along came the great drought. Both women would probably have made wonderful wives and seemed on equal footing as potential soul mates. That was the problem: indecision. But trying to find replacements for either of them was virtually impossible because I had failed to realize that on the scale of one to ten, I had let go or lost two elevens.

Indecision, indifference and a bad personality had left me no better than a lonely Noah, grounded on the summit of Mt. Ararat, sitting at the tiller of a large barge that had become grounded.

Mathematically, trying to juggle two women at the same time computes to: Two minus two = None


It’s a lesson too late for the learnin’
Made of sand, made of sand
In the wink of an eye, my soul is turnin’
In your hand, in your hand.

Are you going away with no word of farewell?
Will there be not a trace left behind?
Well, I could have loved you better,
Didn’t mean to be unkind.
You know that was the last thing on my mind.

(Tom Paxton)










A Christian Lesson in Interpersonal Relationships

A Christian Lesson in Interpersonal Relationships


A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.

(Sir Francis Bacon)


My parents wanted me to go to Catholic High School but I fought the idea, fluoride tooth and nail. I argued that the experience of a permanent Catholic presence did not do a great deal to broaden my cousin Skippy’s horizons. More furtively, I also knew by this time that I liked the company of girls and did not look forward to the idea of being separated from the opposite gender for the next four years.

They finally capitulated, but with the compromise stipulation that I had to go Catechetical Instruction for the duration of my High School years. Classes were held every Wednesday night in the basement of the old church on top of the hill close to the lover’s lane aerators where less than saintly nocturnal activities were taking place.

I have yet to be in a church basement of any denomination that is any different from the one in that little church. They all have dingy low wattage light bulbs, greasy unwashed window sashes, an eerie smell that crosses between old incense mixed with permanent dust and mildew, bulletin boards full of hopelessly outdated notices or pamphlets, and the depressing atmosphere that accompanies folding chairs tucked under bare topped card tables. It all reeks of second-class poverty.

One would think any and every Catholic Church could afford some decent furniture for its extra curricular activities, or if not, it could at least devote one or two of their many “special collections” to the cause of refurbishment.

The Jesuit or Franciscan Brothers taught all the Catechetical instruction, with the classes lasting about one and a half hours. To me this was just an extension of the incomprehensible information I attempted to learn when I failed First Communion classes or was equally just a hodge-podge of brainwashing misinformation and poor allegories that defied common sense and scientific principle.

However at one point the Parrish Rector decided it would be a good idea to have a few lectures given by the laity. He thought that people from ordinary walks of life who were parents of the children in the class could come in from time to time and teach the class some aspect of Christian Doctrine that in some way was tethered to and present in ordinary lives or day-to-day work.

The first dad who came gave a rather beatific accounting of the Christian way to be a good mailman while another father came to relate stories about the Catholic approach to being a good banker. His shtick was to treat employees with dignity and respect, although the subject of softening up mortgage rates for the common folk was never broached.

I thought about asking my father to come, but could not think of one single Christian aspect about drilling teeth, pulling out molars, fitting bridges or tightening braces, and so just let him off that hook.

Then about one month later another dad came to give his lecture, which he said would teach everyone about controlling anger. A slim but relatively short man, he wore a double breasted suit with a slick shiny silk tie, sported a Clark gable mustache, carried a fedora style hat into the church and notably had a couple of cigars sticking up in the front breast pocket of his suit.

He worked as a contract estimator for a local cement mixing company, whose Italian boss, rumored to have had mob ties, seemed to have incurred particular favor from the Parrish priests. This included having the first row of pews reserved for him and his family at the ten o’clock Sunday mass.

The little man proceeded to tell us a fabled story about a cohort he worked with named Angelo “Squeaky” Manero. The nickname Squeaky derived from the fact that Angelo looked and sounded just like a little rat. But even though Squeaky was small he harbored a really bad, largely uncontrollable temper, which made many, many people very, very afraid of him.

The first example he gave was when a bus driver inadvertently left Squeaky off at the wrong stop. So after the next time he got on the bus, Squeaky poured hot grease on the poor man.

The audience was queried:

  • Now does that sound right?”

To which the peanut gallery replied:

  • No!

This was followed by:

  • You’re right. Squeaky didn’t have to hurt him. All he had to do was pack some clay into the exhaust pipe of the bus after work so it would blow the engine up when the driver turned it on the next day.

Then he told us how a man once owed Squeaky money. When he finally tracked the man down Squeaky spit in his face, then kicked him in the groin.

Once again,

  • Now is that the right thing to do?

And once again the chorus was in the resounding negative.

  • Right. All Squeaky really had to do was go to the man’s house, cut his car tires with a knife, then also cut the wires to the engine’s distributor cap.

It went on and on to the point that it began to take on the character of a children’s revival meeting, as the class became enamored by the stories along with the numerous alternative methods of exacting revenge.

The saga ended with Squeaky becoming almost uncontrollable to the point that the slightest perceived insult so unpredictably setting him off, even his friends said they did not want to work with him anymore.

  • Poor Squeaky; there he was just angry all the time, at every one and everything, and now pathetically alone without any pals. Then one day after a confrontation in which he tried to jab another guy in the neck with an ice pick, with no friends around to help him, the other man quickly pulled out a gun and shot Squeaky dead right on the spot.

The raconteur then told us that in all these situations Squeaky could have easily gotten back at any of the other people who crossed him if he had only kept his confrontational anger under control, then carried out indirect but appropriately vengeful acts which were not physically violent but still sent a clear message to the perpetrator.

No one would have known who had done these things, revenge would have been exacted, Squeaky would still be alive today, and he would still have all of his friends.

The moral of the story, this dad told the group, is to make sure that when you get mad, just be sure to control your temper. Don’t be confrontational, don’t physically harm anyone, then wait until some other time when the offenders are completely off guard to find another way to get back at each and every person who has ever crossed you up in life.

 After this lecture, the incredulously negative feedback to the Rectory from the parents of the children in the Catechism class ended the experiment in laity lectures; without further comment from the pulpit.


The First and Second Commandments of Organized Crime 

Don’t get mad. just get even

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

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