Don’t expect me for dinner tonight. Instead of taking the freeway home, I’ll be jumping off the Lincoln Bridge. You can get the full details on “News At Eleven.” Before I go, I want you and the kids to have this autographed picture of me and Miss October and some explanation as to why I embezzled the ten million dollars from National Securities & Investments Amalgamated. Once you get over the shock of learning about my double life, you and Gladys will have something to gossip about over the back fence for the next six weeks.
Now about my crime. The truth is, it was you, Myra, who drove me to it. Not because you’ve spread a few feet over the twenty years of our marriage or because you always serve dry meatloaf on Tuesday or because you tell everyone at your family reunion what a dull job I have. After all, what do I see when I look in the mirror but a balding, nearsighted, forty-five-year-old accountant with a toothbrush mustache and a milquetoast physique? And it’s not because for the last five years you’ve had a “not tonight” headache. I’m a temperate man, and I was content with a few wistful fantasies. But what pushed me over the edge was the evening you leaned across the fence and bragged to Gladys that I had absolutely no interest in sex. Myra, hearing you say that unleashed the beast in me. The next day I began the account manipulations that turned mild-mannered bean-counter George Selby into millionaire playboy Geoffrey Steele.
Almost immediately on acquiring my fortune I made an amazing discovery. Myra, did you know there are women who actually enjoy sex? They lap it up. They lapped me up, I can tell you, and what they can do with chocolate frosting would make Betty Crocker blush. Now I grant you none of these girls is ever likely to be promoted to president of National Securities & Investments Amalgamated, but I absolutely forbid you to tell Gladys they were bimbos. They are perfectly normal, healthy young ladies with knockers that give new meaning to the term “user-friendly.” What’s more, they always found my explanations of guaranty funds and letters of credit fascinating.
Of course, I know they would never have looked at me twice if I hadn’t lit my cigar with a hundred dollar bill. Please note, I only did that once, at a garden party at the Playboy Mansion; I have not succumbed entirely to excess. That Hugh Hefner, by the way, is one hell of a decent guy. I also realize the trips to Paris and Rio added greatly to my popularity. It was thoughtful of you, Myra, to complain to Gladys that if the boss kept overworking me with those weekend audits, I would end up with a massive coronary. But if ten million dollars was the price of getting into the game, I consider it a fair ante for my year of wine, women and incredibly cheap thrills.
Now don’t be jealous about the money. I know you won’t believe this, Myra, but it’s not easy being rich. You have to spend money day and night just to break even. I was a real amateur at it until I studied a stack of videos of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Thanks to this research I can now drop ten thousand on Mimi or Paulette as if I’ve been doing it all my life. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a guy who used to reuse his plastic sandwich bags.
Also, despite what you and Gladys have seen on those mini-series, it’s not as simple as it looks to drink champagne and eat caviar while immersed in a hot tub with six naked women. My glasses got so steamed up I bumped into Bridget who bumped into Honey who bumped into Cookie, and by the time the vibration had gone all the way around the tub the champagne was up my nose and my caviar was floating out to sea. Fortunately, the girls were very understanding. They said I wouldn’t need my glasses anyway because the next game was Blind Man’s Buff. They let me be “It” six times until I got them all right. I always thought it was Blind Man’s Bluff, didn’t you, Myra? But once you’ve played it in the buff, you understand.
As for sex, I was naturally a little worried about my performance. After five years of imagination, would the old kazoo still toot? But guess what, Myra? It’s just like riding a bike. So if, after I’m gone, you get any scented mail addressed to “Tiger,” please don’t leave it out where your mother might read it and have an apoplectic attack.
Another thing—don’t worry you’ll go to jail or lose the house for my crime. I’m leaving an official suicide note explaining all about the paper trails and forged audits and absolving you of any knowledge or complicity. This being Wednesday, I trust you’re wearing your gray flannel sweat suit and pink curlers. When the police come to the house tonight, one look should convince them you never saw any of the missing loot. But check that old savings account we opened across town in the kids’ names. You remember—the one we started so you could get the free electric frying pan? The kids will probably be surprised to learn how thrifty they’ve been. It should also raise me a notch or two in their esteem to know that Michael Jackson, Christie Brinkley and Tom Cruise all attended my last party in Aspen. There was a picture of us together in the March issue of Slopeside, and I hope that’s the one the news media use to highlight my story and not that boring head shot from the annual report.
Anyway, combined with the life insurance policy, the funds in that savings account should keep you comfortably right where you are. Because that’s all you ever really wanted, isn’t it, Myra? A house and a frying pan and a back-fence cackle with Gladys about the latest doings on the soaps.
Well, that’s about it. It’s five p.m. and everyone in the office is heading home, so I’ll be on my way. If you can separate the kids from their music videos long enough, be sure to tell them I said goodbye. Though I suppose I could escape to Europe and reactivate my Swiss account, I always knew this wasn’t meant to last. What if it did and five years from now sex on Friday got to be as unexciting as Tuesday meatloaf? It’s been a beautiful, blissful dream, and rather than wake up I’m closing out the books. I’ll be jumping with a smile on my face and visions of Tanya, Suzie, Cherie, Babette…
P.S.—Tell Gladys I never said she had a face like Hulk Hogan. It was her own husband Stanley who made that crack, and I’m tired of taking the blame.
(Copyright©Arliss Ryan, 1992)