"You'll find plenty who pooh-pooh it, son, and all I can say when you run up against one of those thin-lipped virgins with a stone heart that pumps ice water, is run for your life. Don't under any circumstances saddle yourself with one, no matter how nice she seems, no matter how beautiful she is, no matter how rich, nothing else will matter if you don't have that mystical connection - that greatest of all natural forces. You know what the man said: 'It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.' And by God, that's right on the money."
I can still see him standing over me at the kitchen table. The Doc was a man of commanding flamboyance. He was not a word mincer. But I also sensed, even at twelve, that he was hopelessly enslaved to hyperbole. All his admonitions about the superiority of sex left me feeling that he was denigrating my mother, whom I not only loved, but pitied.
For the great ebullient Doc didn't spend a lot of time at home with Mother. I became the substitute husband, squiring her to this charity event and that picnic; all obligatory affairs attended while the Doc was conducting his own affairs.
So I ignored his advice. And, of course, I regret it.
There were unspoken undercurrents there. Even at my tender age, I felt the Doc was telling me my mother didn't "do it right" and his dental assistants did, or they moved on to chaster pastures. And the women patients with the past-due bills that were never sent out for collection, they surely did it right.
I have never given up trying to "do it right." But up until now, one of the overriding ironies of my life has been while I aspired to be like my father, I wound up more like my mother. While I longed for his libidinous flamboyance, his aura of command, I became repressed and mildly subjugated to a major breadwinner.
Perhaps it was because of my sympathy for my mother, perhaps not, but I was severely retarded in my interaction with the complementary sex.
Until, as I said, I met Kelly.
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