Thursday, November 17, 2022

"Life's Feast"

Farmer Brown leaned closer to Addison.

“Love is what it’s all about, my lad.”

“Oh, I quite agree,” said Addison.

“You do?”

“Yes. Absolutely.”

“And, if it is not too personal, may I ask if you yourself have known the glories of love?”

“Believe it or not, Mr. Brown, yes, I have, and do.”

“Ah ha! Spoken like a chap in love! I should have known by the glow emanating from your corporeal host, sir!”

“Well, that glow could be the result of Cream of Kentucky bourbon, Mr. Brown –”

“No, I speak of a spiritual glow, sir. And tell me, dear Thatcherson, what is the name of your objet d’amour?”


“Bubbles! A delightful name. Tell me about her.”

“Well, she’s a – uh – an entertainer,” said Addison, prevaricating if not outright lying.

“Oh, splendid,” said Farmer Brown. “Nothing like a showbiz gal, is there?”

“I suppose not,” said Addison, adding, silently, “not that I would know.”

“And may I ask – and again, if it’s not getting too personal – have you made sweet love with Bubbles?”


“Sweet, savage, sweaty love?”

“Mr. Brown!”

“Oh. I have gone too far.”

“Perhaps just a bit,” said Addison.

“I hope you will forgive me.”

“Of course,” said Addison. After all, Farmer Brown was buying, and Addison didn’t really have but half his load on yet.

“Here, let me order you another drink,” said Farmer Brown.

“Only if you insist,” said Addison.

“Raoul!” shouted the Farmer to the barman, who was way down at the other end of the bar. “Two more over here if you please!” He then shoved his silver monogrammed cigarette case toward Addison, and clicked it open. “Another Old Gold?”

“Thank you,” said Addison, although he was already smoking a cigarette, but he took one anyway, and placed it in an indentation of the ashtray he shared with Farmer Brown, a sturdy glass ashtray emblazoned in gold and red with the legend At the St Crispian Hotel our Service is Swell.

“I am aware that sometimes in the throes of quite innocent enthusiasm I overstep the bounds of civilized discourse,” said Farmer Brown. “But, you see, Thatcherson, I think it terribly important that a young man such as yourself should taste in full of the pleasures not just of the soul but of the flesh. Unless of course you are a religious fellow. You’re not by chance a Roman Catholic, are you?”


“Thank God – I mean, nothing against any religion, even the Papist, but can any red-blooded man really be expected to refrain from the concupiscent pleasures until marriage?”

“I don’t see why he should,” said Addison.

“A kindred spirit!” said the Farmer. “Because why would the good Lord above give us the beauty of womanhood were it not to be enjoyed in full?”

“My sentiments exactly,” said Addison.

“And so you have,” said the Farmer.

“I have?”

“Enjoyed the physical pleasures of woman, qua woman.”

“Well – yes,” said Addison.

“Here, let me light that Old Gold for you,” said the Farmer, picking up his monogrammed lighter which perfectly matched his cigarette case.

“Thank you, Mr. Brown, but, as you see, I haven’t quite finished this one,” said Addison, showing the Farmer his lighted cigarette.

“Oh, yes, of course, one at a time, heh heh.”

“Yes,” said Addison.

“Ah! Our drinks!” said the Farmer, and the impassive Raoul placed the fresh Creams of Kentucky-and-ginger ales before the middle-aged and the younger man, and took away their depleted glasses.

“To l’amour!” said the Farmer, raising his glass.

“Yes, to l’amour,” said Addison, raising his own glass. Sure, the man was a crashing bore, but he was buying the drinks, and dispensing the cigarettes, and, one never knew, perhaps out of this insanity would come material for one’s novel?

“I have a confession to make, Thatcherman.”

“Pardon?” said Addison.

“A confession.”


“Stop me if you don’t want to hear it. I do tend to reveal perhaps too much.”

“Oh, no –”

“I myself have never known the pleasures of the female corpus.”

“Pardon me?”

“I have never, as the bawdy Bard put it, made the beast with two backs.”

“You mean –”



“Do you think I have missed out?”

“Well, Mr. Brown –”

“Please, Plankington, call me Farmer. As I have said, all my friends call me Farmer, and I would like to think that we have become friends.”

“Okay – ‘Farmer’ –”

“And so?”


“Have I?”

“I’m sorry, Farmer, what was the question?”

“Have I missed out in never once in my life having committed what the aforementioned Bard termed the act of darkness?”

“I, uh, well,” said Addison, who was so rarely at a loss for words, but now nearly was, “um, that is not for me to say, Mr. Br-, I mean Farmer –”

“Yes, but I am asking you to say. Because you, sir, are an artist.”

“I am?”

“Didn’t you say you were a novelist?”

“Oh, right, yes, I suppose I am.”

“So that’s why I’m asking you. Because you are not just some average clod. You are a creative writer, sir, whose remit it is to delve deep into the mysteries of the human soul.”

“Okay, I suppose that’s true.”

“So have I missed out?”

Addison considered. What about himself? He also had never actually made the beast with two backs, done the act of darkness. But he had indisputably gotten a couple of Baltimore handshakes from Bubbles. It was true he had had to pay for them, but nonetheless, he had gotten them, and they must count for something. And, back in his wartime days at the parachute factory, what about that enormous drunken sergeant who had so brutally rubbed his private parts against Addison’s rear in that barroom men’s room? Did that count? But Farmer Brown was not asking about Addison, he was asking about himself.

“Yes, uh, Farmer,” said Addison, “I think that perhaps you have missed out. But –”

“Yes,” said Farmer Brown, “but?”

“But perhaps by missing out you have gained something else.”

“And what would that be, Harrison?”

“Perhaps you have missed out on being disappointed.”

For once Farmer Brown said nothing.

The music of the band had been playing all along, and as if on cue both Addison and Farmer Brown turned and gazed at the Betty Baxter Dancers, kicking their legs so high and twirling and leaping in unison.

After a moment Farmer Brown turned again to Addison.

“All my life I have been, in the words of the noted Irish author James Joyce, outcast from life’s feast. But I have gathered a few crumbs in my time. Yes, Thackerman, I have gathered my precious crumbs.”

The Betty Baxter dancers kicked and swirled, and across the room the love of Farmer Brown’s life, Miss Charlton, sat drinking champagne and smoking with her fattish old male companion, the both of them laughing, probably about the notorious misadventures of their younger days.

{Kindly go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, profusely illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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