The Winner and Still Champion
[Inspired by Kevin Ewing's work and Woody Allen's work]
There she was, at a cocktail lounge gathering. She was one of those women you’d see in a Lexus or Audi Ad, driving with a gal friend, on a mountainside road, laughing with abandon--because, “all they want to do, is have some fun”. Or else she’s gyrating, wildly, on the dance floor, at Fox Woods, while holding on to a bottle of Bud Lite, by its neck.
I was in love with Lust.
A terrible barrier: Because when that impulse surges over me, I fall apart:
I suddenly remember I have a neurosis that I must nurture.
Want to know how it works? The following occurs, whenever I’m turned on:
An ugly take-off of Woody Allen’s Movie, “Play It Again Sam”, arises in my head. Remember that one? Where Bogart’s voice gives macho advice to Woody, when Woody makes a feeble attempt at “going on the make”, after his marriage dissolves?
Only in my case, it’s a twisted version, where WOODY ALLEN is talking to me, not Bogie. It’s affectionately titled, “Don’t Ever Play It Again, Sam, Without Bogie”:
“Look, don’t be a schlump,” Woody advises me, “so what if you have red hair and freckles and big horn-rimmed glasses. Is it her fault you look like a schmuck?”
Problem is, I don’t look like Woody Allen; I look more like Gene Hackman—but, in my own day dream, in order to break down my confidence, Woody tries to get me to believe that I look like him. [It’s bad enough, looking like Hackman.]
Suddenly, she notices me, noticing her.
“What’ll I do now?”
“How should I know? Bogie’s in my fantasy, not yours! Either accept your current dysfunctional fantasy, or conjure up a new one. And stay away from mine!—or I’ll sue you for patent infringement.”
--“Do you believe this guy?” Woody shrugs at the camera, What a putz!--
Suddenly, she starts sashaying my way—with her girl friend, yet. Why do they come in twos? They always come in twos!
The one that I fancy is closest to me, when she walks by.
“Hi”, she says.
“Woody didn’t think you’d say, hello!” I banter, out of utter and incompetent nervousness.
She turned around and looked at me, as if she felt my Shrink had forgotten to double up on my Paxil.
I went home, falling to despair.
As a last resort, before utter and total emotional paralysis, I turned on the Tube--because it was the opening rounds for the AAU track and field championships. Even though I’m a severe klutz with the opposite sex, when I was a school kid I was a bit of a track & field athlete.
I was looking forward to watching the events this summer. But exhausted from the recent ordeal, I dozed off.
Suddenly, in the middle of the night, I hear this voice.
It sounded like Humphrey Bogart.
“It’s me….Bogie. 4 Eyes isn’t around. He’s tryin’ to patch things up with Keaton or Farrow. I was granted a furlough for the evening, from the auteur’s imagination, so I thought I’d drop by……Do me a favor, ignore the Flickmaker…..He’s a puny wise guy, see? Lately, I’ve been thinking of pouring hot paraffin over him, so we can preserve him for good, at Madame Trussaud’s Wax Museum in London…….Listen, I got an idea….”
“I’ll consider any sort of advice, at this point …..even if it’s coming from one of my own neurotic dreams.”
“You competed in track & field in high school, didn’t you?
“If you call competing, either scratches or 5th place finishes--in the early heats of the 110 Meter Hurdles—then, yeah…..
“In the 110, how many hurdles are there?”
“`Cause if she’s a 10, we’ll have you work your way up to winning her affections, with each and every hurdle, of a total of 10 hurdles, for you to clear.”
“Ok, here’s how it goes: Next Saturday night, you go back to the ballroom & lounge, see? There’s a good chance, she’ll be there. Trust me, I’m an apparition, I happen to know her comings and goings.
“Hurdle 1—You see her again and you’re attracted to her and then you get nervous.
Think of yourself jumping over the first hurdle, in the 110.
“Hurdle 2—You look her way and you smile at her without her knowing that you’re
nervous. Think of yourself jumping over the second hurdle, in the 110.
And so on.
“Hurdle 3—You wait until she notices you noticing her—just like last week—then you
nod your head slowly, with as much ease as you can muster
“Hurdle 4—You wait and you look away.
“It’s too early to make your move. You can’t come on too strong. This Reminder, from me, is actually Hurdle 5.”
“So what do I do? I can’t look away forever.”
“Of course not, numbnutz. You feel your way through this. That’s Hurdle 6: Realizing that’s what you need to do: Feel your way through it.
“How do I, quote, feel my way through it ?”
“How? The `How’ is Hurdle 7: When you’ve looked away, you turn your head, just enough, so that your eyes can pick up whether she’s looking your way, again…..How’s your peripheral vision?”
“Pretty good. That’s how I lost my trial heats in the 110-meter hurdles. I couldn’t block out noticing my opponents on opposite lanes. I was too distracted…….So, what if she looks my way again?”
“That’s Hurdle 8. At that point, you have a variety of choices: You can smile at her again and then walk her way and see if she’s receptive. You could take the gutsy but risky, preemptive route and have the cocktail waitress pass her a note, asking if you could buy her a drink. You could look for an excuse to walk nearby her table, such as going to the counter to order an aperitif. Or you could wait until she gets up out of her seat and then casually walk near her—especially if she’s going to the tavern counter or to the piano bar area.
“Hurdle 9—You’ve found a way to start a conversation with her. Next thing you know, you realize there’s chemistry and you forget your anxiety. By the time of last call, you’ve charmed the hell out of her.
You ask her if she’d like to get a nightcap somewhere.
“Hurdle 10—You’ve had such a great time with her that you’ve got the gumption to ask her if you’d like to get her a taxi and possibly escort her in the cab, in order to drop her off, at her townhouse. You figure, who knows?, she might invite you in.
“You arrive at her doorstep before she says good night. Will she actually ask you in for a cup of coffee? Do you kiss her now? Do you say something or do you wait for her to.......?”
____ ______ _____
Suddenly!!, I wake up—because they’re showing a tape of an earlier track and field round—and the crowd is screaming. The race is about to finish. It’s a dead heat, photo-finish, for the 110 meter Hurdle prelims.
The judges study the instant-still photo at the finish line. You can’t tell the sprinters apart. They’re 100% mirror-imaged on each other. Tie goes to the Hurdler who cleared ALL his Hurdles!
The Hurdler, who didn’t clear all his hurdles, LOSES!
Days pass and my funk scatters. It’s the weekend again—and I muster the strength to give it another try, at the lounge, like Bogie said.
And guess what?
Everything goes exactly the way Bogie said it would (before I woke up, that is).
So finally I ‘m at Hurdle 10! We’re in the cab and it pulls up to the curb.
Totally out of another paranormal, synaptic reality, just as I am about to imagine clearing the 10th Hurdle, Woody flashes his eccentric, artsy face in front of my mind’s eye and says,
“HEY, YOU LOSER …..YOU’RE REALLY GOING TO BUY THAT MALARKEY BY BOGIE? YOU’RE…..NOT…..HER…..TYPE!”
“Hey! Wait a second! So far,” I say to Woody (while I suddenly forget I’m not alone with my imagination, but that I actually have company, sitting next to me, important company), “ I’ve cleared all my Hurdles!”
She stares at me, before she gets out of the cab—and her expression is one of such disgust that it may have meant that she realized the double dosage of meds didn’t work, the last time, and the next step should be involuntary commitment.
Lost her, AGAIN? A double overdose of Reality!!
I go back to the bar to drink myself into a stupor. I’m tinkering on the stool, when they show the next round of the 110 Hurdles, on the High Definition. It’s the second heat of the second round.
The Hurdler who won in the earlier round is now in a photo-finish replay with yet another Hurdler, in the semi-finals! But this time, the guy, who won in the earlier round, LOSES--because he didn’t clear all his Hurdles!
That’s it! Don’t you get it? You’ve heard it, enough, by now, haven’t you? If you clear all your hurdles, you win! Was somebody trying to tell me something?!
I resolved to clear all my hurdles! I joined the AAU track consortium and started to train.
In 6 months, I’m ready to start competing. I work my way up in class, like an eager steed, pulsating with hot breath through his nostrils.
By now, I’m gaining a bit of notice, in local cable coverage of state-wide amateur track events; and, before I realize my own progress, I’m in a meet with some guys who are slated to make it to the Olympic trials.
The TV camera targets a few of the events, on the day that I’m in the state-wide semi-finals.
Am I nervous? Yes, but at least it has nothing to do with women. Momentarily, I actually think of trying to conjure up Bogie--but I’d probably be better off trying to call up Jim Thorpe’s spirit.
I’m at the blocks. The idea is to get off to a fast start and to focus totally. And Remember!: Clear all the Hurdles!
And they’re off.
To hell with women, I’m headed to the Gold!
Hurdle 1! Hurdle 2! Hurdle 3! Hurdle 4!……Hurdle 10!
A grueling race—but I cleared them ALL!
Problem was, I cleared them all—BUT….I….CAME…..IN…..LAST.
The following week, there’s a state-wide AAU consortium break-up party. Guess where?
SHE's there. And SHE recognizes me—but not because of our brief encounters last Spring: She saw me compete on local cable. She even plays up to me!
“Hey, I noticed you cleared all your Hurdles. That’s pretty cool!”
“Thanks,” I mutter with embarrassment—since I assume she saw the last-place finish.
She gives me a kiss on the cheek. God!
“Let’s go,” a familiar voice suddenly says. I turn around, to my right. The voice belongs…..to…. Woody Allen!!. She tries to introduce me, but to no avail. I pretty much fainted dead away and then they walk away! No dream, this!
That night, totally flummoxed, ending it all, is a real possibility. In a suicidal stupor I fall into a restive slumber.
Bogie shows up.
“Relax, I’m released. Woody discharged me. When he resided in your fantasy, he saw the woman that you were after and he was smitten. So he decided to materialize and take over. What can I say....the chick goes for famous comedians.
“But now that I’m free, I’ve decided to become your psychic servant! You own all copyrights. You’ve cleared your last Hurdle. Now you’ve got Bogie in your corner! No challenge unmet! One of the greatest charismatic figures of the 2Oth century is ready to make you God’s gift to women!
Here’s looking at you, kid!”