The obituary was in the Sunday paper. She had lived to the ripe old age of 105. The last of the Grand Dames. And, I knew her way back when. Poor little rich girl, always chasing after happiness, but never finding it. Never realizing there are things that money just can't buy.
Euglena Morris had just dumped her latest husband, the Bolivian playboy. Maybe he'd cheated on her, or even worse, couldn't satisfy her allegedly insatiable physical demands. Either way, the guy was a bigtime dope. Now, you realize that this was back in the early 60s -- the Dark Ages -- and grownups talked about "scandals" in hushed voices. As for us, well, we made crude little jokes about such things in the smoking area behind wood shop at Calvin Coolidge High.
There was a name for guys who lived off wealthy widows and divorcees. A gigolo was someone who -- imagine that -- actually made money screwing women. It sounded like a damn fine idea to me, but then I was just a 15-year-old kid. A kid who was not only a virgin, but still a bit vague about the actual mechanics of what it was a man was supposed to do with a naked woman. A kid who found endlessly fascinating the notion of being paid for something that was so darkly enticing... and scary.
Damn, but I wanted to grow up already and be on my own. To have a girlfriend, or two, or maybe half a dozen. To have a decent job and be able to make my own choices. To be free and have money in my pocket and be respected. To be a man!
I needed some sort of plan. Yeah, that was it -- a Master Plan that would change me from a shy, pimply, bumbling teenager into a confident, sophisticated "man of the world." A program that would bring me success and renown and wealth, as well as make me irresistible to the fair sex.
Step one: Body building. I needed to put on some serious muscle,
so I'd have a little heft to throw around and so females would
notice me. Couldn't afford a set of real weights, though, so I'd
have to make my own. Got the materials from a neighbor: assorted
lengths of pipe left over from a plumbing job and half a sack of
ready-mix cement. Filled empty 5-lb. coffee cans with redi-mix
cement and embedded a pipe on each end, one at a time. Presto --
Step two: Improving personal hygiene. Showering daily seemed like
more trouble than it was worth, and even brushing my teeth regularly
took effort. But, hey, it was for a good cause. Didn't want the smell
of my armpits to gross out the females.
Step three: Improving social skills: the fine art of not making a
fool of yourself. Learning to enjoy the company of a member of
the opposite sex -- being able to talk to a potential girlfriend
without breaking into a cold sweat. Holding up your share of the
conversation -- listening and being supportive. Learning the rudiments
of navigating a dance floor without stepping on your partner's toes
too many times. Learning how to kiss and touch... and make her
burn with desire. Learning about the mysterious intimacies that
I wasn't about to waste time with girls my own age. They were beyond help, most of them -- immature, vain, and oh, so full of themselves. In a word, silly. But, what could you expect? They were only a couple of years past playing with dolls.
Nope, I wanted the real stuff. Older women. Experienced women. Women who didn't mess around or play games. Women who knew exactly what they wanted, and weren't shy about asking for it. But, maybe I wasn't quite ready for that. Yet.
Meanwhile, I had things to do and much to learn...
Two years later I was set to go. By then I lived in a high-rise dorm along with 800 other horny eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds. I was a newly-minted freshman at Fogletown U, and, unfortunately, still a virgin. But not for too bloody much longer, if I could help it.
Euglena was still available. She hadn't remarried, and the word was, she was drinking heavily and sharing her favors with anything on two legs. By then she had to be well into her 60s and at that age lovers were apparently hard to come by, even if you had money out the wazoo. Judging from her latest choices of bedmates, she wasn't particularly choosy, either.
I was going to rescue her. Yeah, me. And, no, not out of the kindness of my heart, necessarily, but for my own nefarious purposes -- lessons in lovemaking and anatomy (female) and... maybe to gather up a few odds and ends of her wealth. That's right, I'd plunder her if I could, though I wouldn't be crude about it.
The age difference didn't put me off. The rich allegedly kept themselves well-preserved, and anyhow there was a certain perversity about it that turned me on. Imagine, making love to a women old enough to be my grandmother! Caressing wrinkled flesh, suckling on dried-up breasts! Losing myself in sensual abandonment with an old hag! In any event, her nether parts would still be functional enough for me to pleasure myself. And, hopefully, to give her the pleasure that she thought she still deserved.
I would be her lover and best friend and confidante and partner. Then, overwhelmed by gratitude and lust and a reasonable facsimile of love, she'd gratefully reward me for my companionship and services. First, though, there was the minor problem of getting to meet her and then insinuating myself into her confidences.
The research was the easy part. The Social Register listed her summer residence, a sort of mini-estate in a secluded mountainous area of North Carolina. The local newspaper down there had occasional job listings for service employees for her house and grounds: butlers and maids, landscapers, gardeners, and the like.
Well, I signed up for courses in botany and horticulture, figuring that this would at least qualify me for gardening work. Not that I was especially suited for that sort of thing -- the one time I had tried to grow vegetables in my mother's backyard plot they had turned brown and croaked. But, hey, what the hell.
Four months later, with multiple letters of inquiry to Euglena's majordomo still unanswered, it dawned on me that maybe I was going about this in the wrong way. But, what else could I try? Just barge in on her unannounced? Hey, what the hell.
A Greyhound bus dropped me in front of the pharmacy in Pirtlesville (pop. 243). It was, I was told, several hours' walk from there to Euglena's place.
The backpack chafed and sweat dripped off my brow as I huffed and puffed down Route 17. Nothing much to look at but telephone poles and tall weeds on the side of the road. The occasional cars and logging trucks didn't even slow down when I stuck out my thumb.
The last of the canned sardines left a gritty lump in my throat. There wasn't enough water left in the canteen to wash it down with. The sun was getting low in the sky and the blisters on my damn feet were killing me. How many more miles, damn it?
.... There is more of this story ...