aka THE COLLEGE YEARS
edited by Calico
“Oh, Heyes,” comes the languid voice of my dearest friend and fellow ‘Varsity scholar here in All-American Cambridge, “…How I love to watch your elegantly tapered fingers – so skilled and yet so masterfully strong – clasping that silk-smooth pole. Each one of your vigorous – yet strangely effortless strokes; each one of your perfectly timed thrusts, brings me closer to a state of absolute bliss…”
“Lord, Sebastian!” I exclaim, displaying perfectly rounded vowels, “…You’re right! What could bring two breathtakingly beautiful youths – both at the absolute peak of vigorous physical perfection – closer to absolute pleasure than this?”
Dimpling delightfully, I smile at the blue-eyed, golden haired figure sprawled beneath me on the silken cushions. I let my fingers slide lightly up the shaft and then, tightening my grasp – with an unbroken rhythm – thrust down firmly. Propelled by the sturdy pole in my expert grip, the punt slides smoothly through the waters of the Charles River. My companion – the utterly charming and delightfully amusing Sebastian Flyte-O’Fancy (All-American son of utterly charming and delightful Irish ancestors. Delightful, aristocratic, Irish ancestors. Not those poor, tired, huddled, hungry, yet apparently massive types, that turn up without so much as a by-your-leave at Ellis Island yearning to breed freely) smiles back at me. I smile back at him. We smile at each other. We both have utterly charming and delightful smiles.
Raising himself on one perfectly formed elbow, Sebastian smiles up at me (again). “More fizz, Heyes?” he offers, plucking the champers from the utterly tasteful Georgian silver ice-bucket. (That would be ‘Georgian’ as in ‘dating from the period of that All-American hero, All-American George Washington’.)
“Bung-ho!” I accept.
Sebastian pours two flutes of bubbly. Then, flashing me a roguish look, he says, “…And I mustn’t forget our guest of honour!” He fills a third flute and places it before the delightfully amusing and utterly charming stuffed mascot in the shape of a bear, which I carry everywhere in a delightfully amusing and utterly charming manner.
“Oh no!” I laugh (charmingly and delightfully), “…We mustn’t forget Master Piece-Theatre! You wouldn’t approve of that, at all, would you – you pompous old bear?”
“For Pete’s sake, Heyes!” comes a not nearly so well-modulated voice with a definite New York accent, from a punt coming in the opposite direction. “…It’s bad enough talking to trees – without talking to that dumb stuffed toy!”
“You’re just jealous, Theodore Roosevelt!*” Sebastian ejaculates, loyally. “…Because you never thought of associating yourself with anything so utterly charming, delightfully memorable and potentially iconic!”
“Pffftttt! I hope Roosevelt and Son** will be remembered for something better than a stuffed bear!” comes the scornful – though, it has to be said – rather uncouth reply, as his punt passes ours.
“What a ghastly oik!” fumes Sebastian. “Still! What can one expect of the Dutch! They all made their money in…” A shudder shakes his perfect and slender frame, as he gathers himself to utter the word. “…trade!”
Another charming smile dimples my delightfully sun-kissed cheeks. “Now, now Sebastian,” I chide. “We mustn’t be snobbish. Trade…” I do my best to repress my own involuntary shiver at the word, “…is what made this All-American America of ours a land of hope and glory! Even I may be forced to engage in…” I steel myself, “…trade. Selling my scanty crop surplus for filthy lucre, once I fulfil my noble ambition of becoming a penniless farmer, forever fighting destitution, the elements, cruel twists of fate and the relentless tedium of back-breaking toil, as I scratch a meagre living in the unorganised territories.” My tautly muscled breast swells in anticipation, as I contemplate the blissful future of my dreams.
I propel our craft past banks of noble horse-chestnuts – laden with fruit which, come autumn, will delight ruddy-faced boys bent on playing conkers; past magnificent non-horse chestnuts – laden with fruit which, come winter, will delight ruddy-faced boys bent on roasting; past sturdy elderberries – laden with fruit which, come the season between conker-time and chestnut-roasting-time, will delight ruddy-faced old ladies bent on wine-making; past heavy branched plum trees – laden with fruit which, come…”
“Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?” I exclaim, turning around to keep the fruit trees in view and interrupting my own sensitive and fluently phrased internal reverie.
“No,” Sebastian says, with utter sincerity, from his position behind me. “Never!”
Resting my perfectly distributed 160 pounds on my pole, I lean forward in my exquisitely tailored, snug white flannels, to gaze my fill. “Aren’t you tempted to reach out and pluck those exquisite plums?” I ask, dreamily. I hear a sound like a gulp. I turn and smile, charmingly, at Sebastian – whose arm has stretched out eagerly towards me – no doubt keen to refill my champagne flute. “But…” I add, teasingly, “…that would be stealing – and Master Piece-Theatre would NEVER approve!”
Sebastian snatches his hand back and flushes – utterly delightfully.
Suddenly, two feminine voices call from the opposite bank. I see Mrs. Erotica Robinson and her sister-in-law Mrs. Exotica Robinson. With my ever-present perfect chivalry, I immediately obey the summons and punt over to the ladies.
“Mister Heyes!” begins Mrs. Erotica Robinson, “…you haven’t forgotten our appointment this afternoon?”
“What appointment?” asks Sebastian, crossly. If dear Sebastian HAS a fault – it is that he does not always follow my exemplary standard of unfailing gallantry to the fairer sex. Sometimes, I think he finds the way I cannot walk the length of the street – nor indeed punt the length of the river – without women clustering around, annoying. Then, I think – why would that annoy Sebastian? Then, I think – don’t be such an utterly absurd – though breathtakingly attractive and utterly irresistible – doofus, Heyes. Then, I stop thinking before it hurts.
“Mister Heyes is giving us wood-craft lessons,” explains Mrs. Exotica Robinson.
It is true, I am. I feel even MORE noble, manly protectiveness for these ladies than I do for the rest of your utterly fascinating sex, because the Mrs. Robinsons so frequently tell me how lonely they are for masculine company. Their husbands are – I am regularly reminded – ALWAYS away from home for a full ten hours between eight and six. What is more, these ladies confide that even when their spouses ARE home – they do not truly understand a woman’s needs. I flatter myself I understand a woman’s needs. She needs a hobby! Like wood-craft! When I proposed this to the Mrs. Robinsons they said wood-craft would do for a start!
“We call Mister Heyes’ lessons…” puts in Mrs. Erotica Robinson, “…our lumber-parties!”
She trills with delightful, charming, feminine laughter. Her sister-in-law also trills with delightful, charming, feminine laughter. I throw back my handsome head and peal with delightful, charming and – utterly masculine – laughter.
Sebastian does not give an utterly masculine laugh – he just scowls.
Master Piece-Theatre does not laugh either – but that is because he is such a pompous old bear. (And, because he’s a stuffed toy.)
“You will be FIRM with us – won’t you?” flutters Mrs. Exotica Robinson, “…During our lesson.”
“I am ALWAYS firm,” I assure them. “…though, delightfully chivalrous.”
“And – after you’ve been utterly masterful with us…” goes on her sister-in-law, “And really, really firm – you will stay for tea? Because, we’re going to be SO hungry! Practically drooling!”
“I’ll be yearning for a piece of sizzling hot crumpet,” agrees Mrs. Exotica Robinson.
“I’ll hardly be able to wait to get my hands on some really firm buns,” adds Mrs. Erotica Robinson.
I smile my acquiescence, charmingly.
“You’ll bring Master Piece-Theatre?” says Mrs. Erotica Robinson. “You know how much we look forward to seeing you bare. I mean…” she corrects herself, “…your bear.”
Again, I smile. Again, I do it charmingly.
“And – your axe?” checks Mrs. Exotica Robinson. “We both think you have the most – utterly adorable axe!”
A third time, I smile. A third time, I do it charmingly. Utterly.
“Are you trying to seduce him…Mrs. Robinsons?” challenges Sebastian, generically.
The ladies exchange another glance and blush at this, completely unjustified, accusation.
My deeply expressive, deliciously brown eyes throw my friend a reproachful glance. It saddens me Sebastian can so misunderstand the motivations of these frustrated, neglected, thoroughly attractive ladies of a certain age – that certain age being between thirty-eight and forty-two, the very peak of female desire – for being so hospitable to a breathtakingly gorgeous young man of nineteen – the very peak of masculine appetite, stamina and staying power.
“Sebastian,” I admonish him, quietly, “…I can assure you, the only thing these ladies are interested in getting their hands on is the Ash, Beech, Cedar…and so on…I take with me for the lesson!”
“You will remember to bring plenty of all that, won’t you?” says Mrs. Exotica Robinson.
“And – you will be on time? Don’t keep us waiting!” prompts her sister-in-law.
I treat the ladies to the full glory of my dimpled smile, “…I can assure YOU,” I soothe them, in my rich and utterly manly baritone, “… With Ares Heyes around – no woman will ever have to wait for …timber.”
Notes: [*This would be Theodore Roosevelt Senior, 1831 to 1878, obviously! No anachronisms here! **This would be Roosevelt and Son the plate-glass importing business.]