Written by Loren Logsdon
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00
It was a balmy day in early May in Weeder’s Clump, Illinois. The sap was flowing in the sugar maples, the Christmas jewelry had turned green, and the morel mushroom season was at its peak. Boone Fowler was sitting on a park bench, feeding the squirrels, and humming “On the first warm day, on the first warm day in May.” Boone worked part time as office manager and general troubleshooter for Dr. Wanton Slaughter, Weeder’s Clump’s crusading physician. Three afternoons a week he did garden work for Shekel Dubloon IV, president of the John Dillinger National Bank in Weeder’s Clump.
Boone’s passion, however, in addition to his love of fishing, was helping people with a wide range of problems, from financial investments to matters of the heart to advice on physical and psychological health. In truth, Boone saw himself as a combination in equal parts of Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Oz. Truly, Boone had his finger on the pulse of Weeder’s Clump, so much so that one day he showed up at Poindexter’s Auto Sales because he sensed that Cyril Poindexter was having a moral and ethical crisis in selling a used car. Boone simply enjoyed helping people, and he had what we might call a seventh sense about their problems.
Boone was basking in the warm sunshine and thinking about putting new line on his fishing reel when a young man came running up and plopped down on the bench. It was Troy Hart, a senior at Weeder’s Clump High School, who was planning to enroll at The New Madrid Fault State University at Quincy in the fall.
“Mr. Fowler, I need your help. It’s a matter of life or death, and I must confess that I am as otiose as a three-day-old dead toad and as lost as a fog-bound child,” Troy pleaded.
Not to be an alarmist, Boone said, “I can tell that you have been reading Kurt Vonnegut in Ms Penn’s senior AP English class. She would not approve of your mixing metaphors. But exactly what is the problem?”
Troy quickly glanced around to see if anyone was in hearing distance; then he said in a hushed whisper, “I am in love with this perfect girl, and I don’t know what to do about it. I need your wisdom.”
“Rest easy, Troy! I can help you. Who is this girl? Boone asked.
“Her name is Floral Gardens, and she lives at 605 Park Place,” Troy replied.
Boone nodded, “Yes, I have met her father. Marvin Gardens came to see Dr. Slaughter to borrow his latest issue of Oops! The Journal of Medical Malpractice. The Gardens family moved to Weeder’s Clump just last summer. Now can you tell me something about Floral? Describe her perhaps?”
Troy breathed heavily and said, “I’ll try my best although I lack the eloquence to do her justice. I first noticed Floral early last September. The sparkle in her eyes was like a sun beam dancing merrily on the blue waters of some far-distant tropical sea. She walks in beauty like the night. When the earth slumbers in the icy arms of death, she is a bud of spring. If I had the voice to sing or the eloquence of Shakespeare, I would grant her immortality in art and song. If I had the wings to fly, I would soar to the farthest reaches of the midnight sky and gather stardust for her hair. If I had the strength of Hercules, I would climb Mount Everest and build a shrine in her honor. To it I would daily bring votive offerings in praise of her exquisite excellence: I would bring her the fresh fragrance of a spring morning after a gentle rain, the rich fecundity of a summer garden, the awesome beauty of a rural autumnal landscape, and the crystal purity of newly fallen snow on a moonlit winter night. She deserves all these and more.”
Here Troy paused to catch his breath. Then he resumed. “But she is so perfect in every way that I dare not approach her. The fear of failure gnaws at me like some hideous reptile. Gripped in the saurian teeth of fear, I have lost all interest in those activities that formerly gave me pleasure. Oh, please, Mr. Fowler, I feel as doomed as the captain of the Titanic. I need your help.”
“Crimony, Troy, do you mean to tell me that you have had the hots for this girl since September and you have done nothing about it?” Boone said in disbelief. Boone was about to berate Troy when suddenly he had a flashback to his own high school days, when he had spent many lonely nights howling at the moon and begging God to give him a girl to love. He recalled the heartbreak of rejection and wondered if he could ever find a girl to love him. Consequently, Boone began to feel sympathy for this suffering young man who was counting on him for help.
Thus, Boone looked Troy in the eyes, bonded with him, felt his pain, and said, “We can work together to solve your problem. I’m sure we can.”
Then, since Boone loved the dramatic, he pursed his lips, grimaced, and stared off into the middle distance as if expecting the answer to be emblazoned in the sky.
Finally, Boone put his arm around the perplexed youth and said, “The answer is simple. Troy, you need to strike while the iron is hot.”
Troy started to rise from the bench, “Fine. I’ll go up to her and make my feelings known.”
“Well, hold on just a moment; you should remember that “‘Haste makes waste,’” Boone cautioned.
“Then I should go slow and take my time,” Troy replied, sitting back down, somewhat relieved.
Boone furrowed his brow, flibbered his lips, and said, “He who hesitates is lost.”
“Then I had better act immediately,” Troy responded, getting back up.
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” Boone cautioned.
“I guess I’ll continue to play the waiting game then,” Troy sighed heavily, sitting back down.
“Opportunity seldom knocks twice, and time waits for no man,” Boone opined.
“Yes, I can see that timing is everything, I will go see her this very minute.”
Boone shrugged his shoulders and countered, “A stitch in time saves nine.”
“Yes, I know. I should give this more thought. Ms Penn always says, ‘A wise man is prudent.’”
“But ‘the early bird always gets the worm,’” Boone said.
Taking umbrage at Boone’s metaphor, Troy snarled, “Mr. Fowler, Floral is not a worm,” suddenly getting crispy with Boone and thus breaking the logic and rhythm of the dialogue that seemed to have taken on a life of its own.
“Well, for Pete’s sake, Troy. You are a handsome lad and you have more common sense than most adults. Just go up to her and ask her for a date, take her out, and show her a good time,” Boone said.
“What is a date, Mr. Fowler? What is that?”
For the first time in his life, Boone was brought face to face with a truth he had managed to avoid for several years: He was old fashioned. Not with it. Not up to snuff. Behind the times. Living in the past. A day late and a dollar short. Out of the loop.
Boone then explained to Troy that in ancient times when a young man had been wounded by Cupid’s little darts, he would engage in a ritual called dating, which was the first stage in the courtship ritual. He would ask the girl for a date, and if it worked out they would have another date. Then if that proved mutually pleasant, the next step would be going steady. Then if the couple heard organ music and there was no one there, smelled blossoms when the trees were bare, and everywhere they went they seemed to walk on air, it was time to think of a life of connubial bliss. The next step was to ask the girl’s father for his approval, and that opened the door for all the hoopla and flapdoodle of a big church wedding.
“Dating—that was what we did when I was a young man,” Boone said.
“It doesn’t sound cool. I could never do anything that wasn’t cool,” Troy replied.
Boone realized that he had to think up a different strategy to help the lad. Suddenly a light bulb flashed on in Boone’s mind and he had a divine inspiration. He could still save the day.
Boone looked Troy squarely in the eyes and said, “Here’s what you do. Write down all the words you used to describe Floral to me. Take the paper to Floral and ask her if she would help you with a paper you are doing for Ms Penn’s AP English class. Ask her if she would proofread the paper and watch for mixed metaphors, uses of the unattached this, excessive metadiscourse, as well as any infelicities of style. When Floral reads that paper, she will see what a great guy you are, and your problem will be solved.”
“That’s cool! It’s perfect. Do you know what you are, Mr. Fowler?”
“No, what am I? Boone asked
“You’re a genius. You are better than Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Oz all rolled up into one.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:08