Dear Isadora Duncan
Guess who this is. I won’t keep you in suspense. I am that tall dark and handsome ha ha jewelry salesman who got on your bus in Harrisburg PA last Tuesday. The one who asked is the seat next to you taken? You manifested to me in a pleasant way that there might be empty window seats to the rear. That is real nice of you I rejoindered but they are in the smoking section and one thing I do not do is smoke drink gamble or steal my best friends wife. It happens to be the truth practically all the time. When I put your bag up on the rack and you remarked wont you join me that acquiesced my first opinion. I had me a real winner.
Even an ump without his glasses could see that we hit it off pretty good right from the start. When it was divulged that we lived in the same metropolis even if you emanated from Manhattan and me from Brooklyn it certainly figured that we would prolong the rapport at a later date. Whenever I had the little address book and pencil out the conversation somehow became variegated. You wanted another replay of how I made the record breaking sale at Gladstones Department store in Wilkes Barre the day before. How I suckered their buyer by nonchalantly hinting that if he dint grab the last six gross of our Xclusive fall line of necklaces he would regret it. JC Penney down the street was a sure bet to gobble them up. Did Macys get mad if I gave Gimbels a better price? Did all jewelry salesmen go around in bluejeans and a sweat shirt? Did I carry my samples in the duffel bag? I think I explicated it pretty clearly why I was in my travel outfit. On a bus who knows what your liable to pick up. Excluding present company of course. Believe me if I knew beforehand I was going to meet up with anything like you I would have been in my three piece mohair pecan colored suit and let it take its chances. As I told you my sample case and my pigskin luggage were in the Caddy I had to leave behind. When they got the part they needed they would get someone to drive it to NY.
How did you like that dame in front? Squawking that my knees were banging the back of her seat. Lady where do you want me to put my feet? Out in the aisle where someone can take a header over them on the way to the john? I was confident you would ascertain that I was not flaunting my real nature the way I answered her. At the moment I had more important things on my mind. Not to mention you. Your joking that length was one thing I was not short of really broke me up and was very salubrious to the atmosphere. I think I reparteed her pretty good. I dint need the driver to tell me where my knees belonged. On my legs where else? She dint think it was funny. You were right some people just dont have a sense of humor.
When we pulled into NY you left in such posthaste due to your family waiting dinner on you you dint realize I never got your phone number. All that noise you could not hear me calling after you. I ran out and looked for you in the waiting room but no you. I could see it was a very important dinner.
Here is the sales slip which was under your seat. Lucky for us I found it. If Lord and Taylor saw you in that sweater both of them would be glad to pay you for wearing it. When I saw the name Sally Rawlings not Isadora Duncan I said to myself man there just went a beautiful friendship. I would not be a gentleman if I told you what else I said. Then I perceived that the 68th Street address on the slip is roughly the eighties where you said you lived. When I imparted that my name is Spenser Mead what is yours I am now cognizant that you took a long look out at PA before you answered Isadora Duncan. Do not feel any perfidy. I agree that a girl should not be promiscuous with her authentic name to just any body that comes along. How could you know beforehand there would be this reciprocity between us? A regular Shylock Holmes huh?
I tried the phone book for Sally Rawlings. Found one on Carmine Street who said she was a blonde but that was forty years ago. There is no Isadora Duncan in the seventies or anywhere else. Both of you must be unlisted.
Anyway now that I ratiocinated the entire situation we can pick up where we left off. My phone number is PR 4-3906. I will be in NY for the next two months. I am at the showroom during the day partaking in strategy for next seasons line and busy nights entertaining important out of town buyers. I will be in between five and six p.m. sitting by the phone.
As always yours
Dear Isadora Duncan or Sally Rawlings
As you see I am taking no chances. Tell you the truth I like Sally better. Goes more hand in hand with natural blonde hair and a creamy complexion that Revlon could never get into a bottle. Fortuitously* for us they both go with my dark visage* and not exactly looks that only a mother could love ha ha. I was very disappointed in the phone call I never got. For a while I couldnt fathom* this at all. The portend* was certainly there for some interesting plausibilities* ahead for us. She is probably out at the Hamptons I said to myself when I dint hear from you the first week. After a month it had to be something else keeping us apart. I think I know what it is. You might be blonde but I already ascertained* that you are anything but dumb. You saw right through my dissemblings*. Do not hold this against me. Blame it on the bus.
My buddy Smiles Sutton could fill an hour on the subject of buses. Not exactly buddy. He dint smoke either and they roomed us together. With him health had nothing to do with it. On his pay he said it was either cigarettes or sex. Smiles words not mine. According to Smiles people who are going anywhere fly. The rest of us take a bus. He never mentioned trains and boats. Or bicycles ha ha. Smiles dint always have so much perspicaciousness*. You were on a bus from Pittsburgh to NY. He never took into account the fear of flying such as you are proned*. You imparted* that going by bus also gave you a chance to catch up on your reading.
The way Smiles put it when you pay for a bus ticket you are buying a trip to fairyland. You got yourself a license to be as far fetched as you want. If you can pull it off the sky is the limit. The farmer next to him was trying to palm himself off as some kind of VIP. Smiles winked at me and busted the guys bubble by asking him how the alfalfa crop was that spring. Smiles said the I in VIP stands for inventive. I must substantiate* to you that I am no better than that alfalfa farmer. Sometimes this can wind up with the shoe on the other foot. Take the day I was Dr. Fanning and the old geezer puts out his hand and announces he is Dr. Spock. Wants to know am I also heading for the convention in Houston. I got out of there in a hurry. Told him I really wanted the smoking section. Looking back was he just another pipe dreamer? He certainly was not a specialist like me who was only riding the bus because my chauffeur was laid up and I had enough flying while I was a medic in the air force. Breathing in all that nicotine for two and a half hours who knows how many years it cost me.
I dont want you to get the idea from this incident that deep down most of me always wanted to be a doctor. I know somebody it would have made happy. My father. Peregrinating* around as much as I did I could stand a little multifariousness*. In my time I have been vice president of Greyhound checking out the service. A big league baseball scout. A mining engineer. An eccentric billionaire like Howard Hughes. Among others. Could never circumvent* how the star left hander of the NY Yankees could be riding a bus?
I remember your remark after you finished perusing* me over with a fine comb. Spenser I would never have guessed salesman you are much too shy. And I always considered salesman to be my best forte*. You were right.
In real life I am not a jewelry salesman. You do not have to ponder* any longer. I am a ballplayer. A pitcher. Im not holding anything back. A southpaw. Dont believe everything you hear. We are not that much different from regular people. I dont cover the entire U.S. and Alaska for JC Press of Fifth Avenue. I got the Press from Pinky Press the shaky shortstop and captain of my high school team. He is now a lawyer. The JC was taken from JC Penney. I hope their store dick was not watching ha ha. Gladstone I borrowed from my uncle Mendy. There is not enough beau monde* in Goldstein for a bookie with six telephones in his finished basement. Dont bother looking you wont find a Gladstone in Wilkes Barre. Not unless they install a racetrack there. By the way my name is not Spenser Mead. I was not Going Grey as Smiles would put it because my Cadillac broke down and I missed the last NY flight.
I once asked Smiles Sutton how he came by the Smiles. Is it because you can be pretty funny sometimes or from the way you are always smiling? He wished he knew he said. You know the kind of smile. It does not mean anything because it is always there rain or shine. He was not always that funny either. Like the time he came right out with it. Sid dont get your hopes up. That kid Clark from UCLA is going to Cleveland not you. Smiles you are all wet as usual I rebutted*. OK Sid he said I will go to my church you go to your synagogue.
If Sidney Mogolofsky sounds Jewish even if I dont look it I am. I was never sure if Smiles was just being funny or semi anti (halfway antisemitic). My brother the movie writer I told you about claims it is all the fault of another writer Phil Roth that Gentile girls are leery about us. I was relieved to see that Fear of Flying which was on your lap was a book about your condition and not one by Phil Roth. You said you found it an interesting book whenever you got the chance to read it.
After that I tried not to laugh at Smiles stuff whenever I could although a good laugh is a very scarce item in the minors. Clark went to Cleveland. After a year or so the league learned what I already knew. All he had was that measly slider. He went to dental school.
I used to tell myself dont be so pro semitic Sid. After all you dont exactly go around in a yarmulke. Be a little forebearing* to Smiles. You are both in the same leaky boat. Between you you have more years in the minors than you wish you could still count. Remember you got those three weeks in the biggies with Detroit. Something Smiles will never have to fall back on. Underneath that smile maybe he was entitled to a modicum* of bitterness and a pinch of semi anti. He admitted when we first met ninety years ago that in Stonewall TN he was brought up to believe that all Hebrews had minds like bear traps. If he didn’t see me under a shower he would have strong doubts that a big hairy lefty like me without the big pitch (wittingly* omitting my change up) was a full fledged member of the tribe.
When one of the college wonder boys had a bad day Smiles would slap him on the back and say dont worry kid two more years and you will be a chiropractor or an optometrist or a biology teacher.
You can see I had this big dichotomy* on Smiles. Even my brother I definitely dont love all the time. When they handed Smiles his release last year the only way I could feel worse was if it was me. In the clubhouse he got up on a chair grabbed his head and jerked his neck like he was stringing himself up. It was twisted but the smile hung on. I have nothing left to live for he moaned. Except golf hunting clipping coupons and chasing hot and cold running broads around my swimming pool. His words not mine. Saying goodbye he turned a flat tire smile on me. Sid I wish I could say it was a pleasure. The way he squeezed my hand I could see his real feelings were otherwise. His risibility* was having a tough time. Like everybody else I was really thrown for a loss when we got the news a few months later. Although I was not all that surprised.
By the way, these * * * * * are asterisks. As long as I am coming clean I might as well wash all over. They point out words which are not really mine but are garnered* from a guy named Roget Thesaurus. Give him any word and he comes back with a half page of stylish ones for it. My brother who introduced us says he was a lonesome Greek who had no TV or radio and if not for him most writers would have to get honest jobs and you could pick up a typewriter cheap. He is not much help to my brother. Couple of years ago I got the Pocatello Au Courant in the mail. If you have never heard of it you are not alone. It calls itself a magazine but it is really sixteen mimeographed pages stapled together. No pictures. No sports page. Along with it was an excited letter from my brother. On page nine is his story. He has been paid with six copies of the thing and he is at last a professional writer. I sweated through that story three times. I might not do better but with the Greeks help at least you would understand what I was trying to say. Naturally I dint tell my brother this but wrote back that it is by far the best story in the magazine and welcome to the pro ranks. I did not include that no respectable bank was going to allow six copies of the Pocatello Au Courant on a deposit slip. Believe me I know what it feels like when all of a sudden the batters are swinging big tree trunks and the plate is the size of a dime and the manager comes out to the mound and stares at the right field wall while he holds out his hand for the ball.
Talking about asterisks one spring Smiles said why dont we keep our own asterisk record book. Asterisk hits were the little squibblers on which lead footed corner men dont make the play or windblown pop flies that polite fielders dance under or pebble hits etc. Take the time I had Hank Aaron oh and two in an exhibition game. I fake him out of his spikes with my change up when he sticks out his bat like its a live snake and floats the ball over the right field wall which is nearer to first base than second base is. An asterisk hit if you ever saw one. At the end of the season Smiles official nine and twelve was really eighteen and three. My eleven and fourteen was twenty and five. I leaned over sideways to give him the best of it.
Funny that your name might be Rawlings. Rawlings is stamped on each and every baseball. A relative? Some pitchers think Rabbit would be more fitting. Include me. Dont take this wrong. In no way do I purport* that you are necessarily lively also. Since I met you I think about you all the time and not once are you out of control or anything like that. Not even at night. In case you are starting to worry dont. We had our share of carnal* in the minors.
I dont mean that you are a laconic* or anything like that but in the four and a half hours from Harrisburg to NY all I can say is that you hardly unbosomed* (the Greeks word not mine) as wholesale as I did. I know that you are very pretty which I found out for myself and that you never listen to Merv Griffin. I hope I made you see that it is nothing to be ashamed about. Merv Griffin I mean. You would rather not discuss why you were in Pittsburgh. I was not trying to reconnoiter* anything out of you. Its just that Pitts is not a town you visit randomly*. It was just a sort of opening to more pertinent* intercourse*. That Greek. Was another male involved? Were you afraid that the competition might discourage me? After fifteen years in the minors? If you wanted to go taciturn* on me you were entitled to take that prerogative*. I get a feeling this will change once we get a little more intimacy extant*.
In the meantime if anybody has the privilege to know the real me after my whole plethora* of embellishments* it is you. Remember I was just starting to tell you about this writer who wanted to put me in a book when you said the aspirin was not working and would I mind if you took a nap. Now I am free to continue. A sportswriter from the Shreveport Sheet grabbed me one day. Look he told me every .270 hitter with curly hair every fifteen game winner who dint beat his wife cant wait to tell the world about it. Why not you? You know the kind. My story as told to. He would call it Mogolofsky of the Minors. Smiles thought a better title might be The Wandering Jew. See what I mean about Smiles? I told the guy not to precipitate* so fast. I still had a few good years in the old soup bone. I dint want to wound his feelings but how could someone from Louisiana named McDonald ever catch the true ambience* of a Jewish southpaw from Bensonhurst?
When I am ready to tell my story who will do it better than me? It takes one to know one. By that time I might even have a wife that I dont beat. Are you Jewish by any chance? I once roomed with a catcher named Clayton before he made it to LA. He went into the insurance business after the runners stole everything but his bridgework off him. I learned the awful truth about him when he took me to a Seder in Beaumont. You can’t go by names anymore. And what about those nose jobs? Present company excused. I know the real article when I see it. Some people still think that NJ stands for New Jersey.
In the book I will delineate* how I went from high school right into pro ball. I dint go to college. I could of. I had a 71 average. My father took me to Ebbets Field when I was a kid. I saw Sandy Koufax pitch. The only thing I wanted to be after that was a Jewish Brooklyn Dodger southpaw. My father has nobody to blame but himself that I dint turn out a doctor. The scout that came to my house because I was such a phenom in high school told my folks I would have a four year jump on my foolish teammates who were going to college. Some jump. He dint mention into what. My mother said to the scout dont do him any favors. Her son goes to college if she has to drag him. What Jewish boy plays ball for a living? Koufax I told her. She rapped me in the ear with her specialty a knuckled backhand. My father felt different. He said a genius with a 68 average will not get into medical school even if he goes to Mongolia. He did not count subjects like Music Hygiene and Art Appreciation. If I wanted to bang someones head against the wall it was all right with him so long as it was not his. Before he left the room he informed me that according to the Bible I was already a man for five years and was entitled to make my own stupid decisions. I’m not knocking the Bible, but if parents listened to it a lot of kids would be watching TV all day and the eye doctors would be rolling in it. The scout took me aside and whispered that I ought to be giving him the five grand bonus for getting me out of such a madhouse. Besides everything else I have against that scout there is the guilt I am carrying all these years for being present when my folks were insulted and not taking a sock at him. Even if I dint disagree with him entirely. I did a smart thing. I put the dough in a Buick convertible and clothes while money still had some value.
Eighteen, six-two, 195 pounds. I could throw a ball through a safe door. My curve fell off the table. Had a ruptured butterfly for a change up. All the tools. Couple of years in the smalls picking up some smarts and I am ready for the Yankees. I sure would have predilected* my first love. From way back my goal was the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the meantime some sport had made them extinct*. Club owners have got a real feeling for a buck. To them tradition is a dirty sweat sock. Smiles said so. For a guy raised on a farm dont you think that Smiles had a succinct* way about him? Between Yankee Stadium and me getting there only one thing was missing. Luck. First I fouled one off my toe and broke it. Why smart pitchers never take the bat off their shoulders. Next year I favored the toe and something dropped out of my elbow. I was starting to throw hard after surgery when I came down with hepatitis. That you can blame on the collegiates who brought it with them from their frats said Smiles. The way you pick up things Smiles warned me you better go on the pill over the winter.
One day I look around and I am thirty one. Whenever I am interviewed which is becoming as scarce as a hens tooth I am asked how does it feel watching kids stick around only long enough to learn how to roll up their pants before they go on to Milwaukee or Frisco or Kansas City while here you are still riding buses living on hamburgers and tacos and playing ball by candlelight in breadboxes. I tell them that when I find the word for it I will let them know. I borrowed that from Smiles.
I hope Sally is your name. But I can live with Isadora. I do not mean that in the Phil Roth way. Now I come to the best part. The guy who got on the bus at Harrisburg and accepted the seat next to you was not only not a jewelry salesman he was also not a professional ballplayer. Not since two days before. From now on the fans (short for fanatics) will have to find someone else to whistle and shout Grandpa at and be caluminous* to. Even if his brain cant bat its weight a ballplayer knows sooner or later he has to call it a day. Look at Koufax.
I used to carry around this picture. Sunny Sunday afternoon. Yankee Stadium. I am standing at home plate surrounded by an infield full of gifts. My cap is in one hand. In the other are the keys to the city and a baby blue BMW. The packed stands let out a roar when it is announced that my uniform shirt will be kept in a glass case forever. Almost the same as getting the farewell address in a managers dingy office ten minutes before game time. Dont worry Im not Smiles Sutton. They wont find me in full uniform and spikes hanging from a barn rafter one morning. My brother opined* Smiles must have hated farming. My brother is a handball player what can you expect? Thirty four may be old for a pitcher but for TV repairing which I had the sagacious* to pick up in the off seasons you are in your prime. You will not be going out with a chap who is bereft* of a livelihood by any means. We may never be rich but one thing about a TV repairman friends are always plentiful. I was trying to cheer up Smiles after a tough loss. He stopped me. Sid he said the only friend a pitcher has is his curveball. One time I now know he was not joking.
While Im at it my brother does not write movies for MGM in Calif. Since he has never been any place where the subway does not take him you would be right on the money if you deduced* that I dint beat Robert Redford six to oh on my brother’s tennis court or swim with Faye Dunaway in his kidney swimming pool the last time I was in Beverly Hills which was in my territory. Boy if I never ride another bus it will be a week too soon. Did you really graduate college from Barnard? Wow am I suspicious. Personally I would forgive you and imputate* the whole blame on the bus.
My phone number is PR 4-3906. If you had a listed number all the preceding could have been done in the flesh. And my brother would not be standing over me waiting for his typewriter. After you call and we get past the subconsciousness stage you will have to acknowledge* in person that I have hardly scratched my facade*.
Very truly (and how) yours
P.S. If I dont hear from you I will have to lend my ratification* to what Smiles Sutton would say. Sid somebody up there is pitching another no hitter against you.