Last week, The Old Ball and Chain lied on me and made me appear to be an incorrigibly grumpy old man.

Before I start, don’t bother sending me any more pompous, strait-laced cards, letters and e-mails calling me sexist.  I really don’t care.  I believe in gender equality.  If ladies bowl balls at me, especially regarding my credibility, they’d better be able to handle the balls I return.  Old B.C. alleged I wasn’t a real hermit who she says “lives alone”.  Maybe.  But what is “living alone”?  My dictionary defines a hermit as “a person who, usually for religious reasons, lives a very simple life alone and doesn’t meet or talk to other people.”  This obviously describes every married man.  Husbands are constantly under “home improvement”; repeatedly “persons of interest” if they speak to old friends especially female; always broke hence unable to afford luxuries like clothes or bus fare. That’s living alone (constructively) for religious reasons (marriage). 

                   “In a little while from now,
if I’m not feeling any less sour,
I promise myself to treat myself
and visit a nearby tower.                                                                                         In climbing to the top
will throw myself off
in an effort to                                                                                                             make it clear to who-                                                                                             ever what it’s like when you’re shattered.                                                               Left standing in the lurch,                                                                                                 at a church
where people saying
My God that’s tough, she stood him up
No point in us remaining.                                                                                  May as well go home
as I did on my own.
Alone again, naturally…

Irish hermit Raymond (stage name “Gilbert”) O’Sullivan’s haunting ode to loneliness was my anthem for years. 

When I lived alone (naturally), I did what I wanted; went where I wanted with whom I wanted.  I was a real man.  Then I got married:

                   “I’m an ordinary man,
who desires nothing more than an ordinary chance,
to live exactly as he likes, and do precisely what he wants…
An average man am I, of no eccentric whim,
who likes to live his life, free from strife,
doing whatever he thinks is best, for him,
Well… just an ordinary man…

Man just wants to be left alone.

                   “BUT, Let a woman in your life                                                                              and your serenity is through,
she’ll redecorate your home                                                                               from the cellar to the dome.
then go on to the enthralling                                                                                              fun of overhauling you…
Let a woman in your life                                                                                       and you’re up against a wall,
make a plan and you will find
that she has something else in mind,
and so rather than do either                                                                              you do something else
that neither likes at all.

So, I find himself, driving to St Mary, family in tow, for a weekend at a strange hotel.  At that point, no-one needs extra attention caused by women scurrying about (obviously) having trouble getting my credit card to work.  It’s embarrassing.  Hanging around won’t make it better so I leave.  Old B.C. gets into a tizzy.  Why?

                   “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win,                                                                                             will always give your back a pat.
Why can’t a woman be like that?

Because wives never lose; they’re never wrong. So, it’s hopeless explaining to Old B.C. that, if one can’t visit a friend without a gilt-edged invite or questionnaire, life isn’t worth living.

                   “Why does everyone do what the others do?
Can’t a woman learn to use her head?
Why do they do everything their mothers do?
Why don’t they grow up, well, like their fathers instead?

Men just want to be left alone.  This rule isn’t embraced by street corner windshield washers.  Me, the first Festival Song.  Dis man don’t trouble no man.  But, if you trouble dis man….

So, I’m sitting peacefully in my recently washed car when a silent marauder approaches and pours dirty water on my clean windshield. I go ballistic.  Wouldn’t you? 

                   “Why can’t a woman take after a man?
Men are so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you’re with them, you’re always at ease.

                Would you be slighted if I didn’t speak for hours?

                 COLONEL PICKERING:
Of course not.

Would you be livid if I had a drink or two?


Would you be wounded if I never sent you flowers?


Well, why can’t a woman be like you?

Frederick Loewe’s music and Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics made MY FAIR LADY a classic success.  Still, it left the eternal conflict between man and wife unresolved.  Aluta continua!

Peace and Love


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