She always said he had a problem with women. Didn’t like the power they had over men. Boys doing backflips to impress them on school lots, church grounds, board rooms, car dealerships. Always looking for attention. Always out to prove themselves.

That’s how he was. Born with southern charm and good looks. Never realized the power he had. Would sit there on the barstool for hours making a fool of himself. Talking it up to the ladies like he was Burt Reynolds or Stagger Lee. Trying all kinds of magic to conjure up in a cloud and blow it their way. They’d laugh at him as he swooned over them and bought drink after drink after drink. His missions often failed.

The old man at the end of the bar would watch this fiasco go down every night. He’d sit with his beer and shot and watch the young clowns of the circus apply their tricks. He’d watch them spend all their money on a Saturday night on honey, pure honey. And get what? Maybe a toss of the hair, a kiss on the cheek, some false phone number. He’d watch and laugh. Ashamed of his gender. Wondering what happened to real men. The quiet types.

There’s really nothing to it, the old man thought. Just sit and keep your mouth shut and they’ll come to you. That was his practice as a young man. His game.

And now he finds better company with Proust, Bukowski, Beckett and Shepard. All night he would spend reading Mamet, Mailer, Miller. The power of women no longer existed in his life. Those spells they cast had no effect on him. He was finally at peace.

Lonely? Men get lonely. But, what is the price? In one’s life there is struggle. And as we get older, the struggle is less. He thanked God for this each night that he left the bar. A twin bed, a single chair, one plate. Be careful what you wish for.

She always said he had a problem with women. She always said that.

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