Last of the Mail Order Grooms

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Submitted: June 17, 2016

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THE LAST MAIL ORDER GROOM

With the coming of spring, a mail-order groom’s thoughts turn to flights of fancy as he gussies and preens himself in hopes of distant nuptials. Men throughout the world contend with nerves on edge, as they await the call that will fulfill their dreams of becoming a ‘Mr.’. Some have spent the better parts of their adult lives consumed with the hope that they might one day be chosen asher significant other. At least, that’s how it used to be. Sadly, the mail order groom business has fallen on hard times, and the names that filled its once proud registry have dwindled down to one: mine.

Its not easy being the last of the ‘Postal Ponies’. Not only have I lost my comrades in charms, but there is a serious lack of confidence finding its way into my once auspicious heart. I know that someone had to be the last, but why me? This is not how I imagined it all those years ago when I joined the prestigious club whose membership every man clamored for. And, as I stand here at the end, it is a story worth hearing from the beginning.  

I was in my early twenties. Like most men, I dreamed of a better life that could only be found in the generous philanthropy of a strong, dominant woman. But this dream found its roots when I was a young child sitting on my father’s knee. It was he who planted the seed that would sprout and grow within me.

“Son,” he said, “I was a mail order groom, as was my father before me, and his father before him. There’s a long, proud tradition that finds its way to you. Embrace it. There is no other way for us. It is your destiny.”

So embrace it I did. The day after graduating finishing school, I marched into the nearest office that provided the service I was seeking. It wasn’t difficult finding one - on the contrary - I was left with the daunting task of picking the right one from the many that existed. There was ‘Groomed to Order’, ‘A Hymn for Him’- specializing in Ecclesiastical unions (not what I was looking for), ‘Ladies in Waiting’, ‘Home and a Broad’, and of course, ‘The Groom Mates’, the organization that my family dealt with. 

They made me feel like I made the right choice. They gave every indication that my ‘single’ status would soon be over, and that I’d be winging my way into the arms of one of the many women looking for a mail order groom. Little did I know. Had I been paying attention to the indicators, I might have seen the writing on the wall. But I was too giddy with hope and anticipation to notice the trend that had begun. 

First there were the delays. In the beginning, they were easily explained. Changing government policies, transportation issues, the pre-existing ledger of names that were ahead of mine. Their reasons made sense. How naive I was. Before I knew it, the season had passed, as well as the prime time for ‘Grooming’ as we called it. Late that fall they called with a ‘Go See’, but I wasn’t that stupid. No self respecting ‘husband wannabee’ would think of taking a bride after Labor Day. I decided to wait.

Like a gambler who thinks that his next hand is the big one, I entered the fray again the following spring. My hopes remained high and my spirits undaunted by the previous year’s failure. After all, I had tradition on my side. I decided that, while I waited, I’d hone my husband skills, and try to advance my chances of being selected above more qualified choices. After all, this was a contest I was in. Everything counted.

The Groom Mates had a great deal of information, suggestions and education already prepared - negating the need to re-invent the wheel. I arranged to stop by the office and collect the literature they had on hand. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of documentation that focused on the efforts needed to become procured. The information officer who handed me the mountainous dissertation explained that ‘the science of selection, although exact in its premiss, had many variables that stood outside of its scientific reasoning’. “For instance,” she continued, “do you leave the toilet seat up or down?” Her question sounded more like an accusation, and the beads of sweat that found their way to my skin’s surface, betrayed my racing mind as I searched, in vain, to visualize the aftermath of this morning’s constitution. “You won’t do well with a woman whose looking for a husband, if you can’t answer that question correctly.” 

Castigated by an information officer! I had my work cut out for me. I had fallen into the trap of complacency. Somehow, I felt that it was my birthright to follow in the footsteps of my forefathers, but nothing in life is free - not even a birthright.

As I fell into my apartment, I dropped the large bundle of books at the door and ran to the bathroom. The lid was down. I could feel a smug grin cross my face, but quickly refocused on the task at hand. The first book I opened was called, ‘Singled Out - The Un-Married Man’s Bible To Usurping Natural Selection’. It was a twelve-hundred page effort that covered everything from Cuddling, to Not Farting Under the Covers. Among the plethora of information, there were also essays. One was called, ‘Thanks a lot, Adam’. It paid homage to the original mail order groom. Another dissertation was titled, ‘Learning to Weep - Sensitive and Tactical’. And yes, there was an entire chapter on putting the toilet lid down called, ‘Unfinished Business - Does an Open Lid Indicate a Closed Mind?’.

I read and re-read every piece of literature that would assist me in my quest. Essays like, ‘Learn to be Last’, ‘What’s Mine is Mine and What’s Yours, is Mine, Too’, ‘ATTITUDE is Twice as Long as a Four Letter Word’, and, ‘Close Your Eyes and Think of Mom - Being Defrocked With Dignity’. The more I read, the more I realized how unprepared I was. And still, the phone didn’t ring.

Spring gave way to summer, and before I knew it, I was taking my ochre colored wardrobe out of storage for fall. I stayed in touch with the information officer at Groom Mates. One day she asked, “Have you ever considered using a Groomer?”. The mere mention of the word brought an instant rush of shame and embarrassment. Sensing my discomfort, she quickly added, “You wouldn’t be the first. As a matter of fact, our groomers are very busy right now.” I thought about her offer and wondered what grandfather would have said about this, if he were alive today. It was the first time that I was glad the old coot was dead. “Go ahead”, I instructed. 

A week later, the phone rang. “Hello”, I said. The voice on the other end called herself, Ursala, said that the company asked her to contact me, and set up a time to come by. Nothing in her voice prepared me for the onslaught that was about to follow. She arrived the next morning, choosing to do away with the traditional knock on the door, and opting for the less traditional ‘shoulder as battering ram’ method of entry. By the time I got to her, she was standing in front of the opened bathroom door. The lid was up.

“Hi”, I stammered, “my name is Ted.” 

”From now on, your name is dirt. Understand, dirt?”, she yelled. “Do you know why I’m here?”

“To help me become a groom?”, I managed to say.

“A groom? A groom? Do you expect any woman with half a brain to choose someone who does this?”, she asked as she pointed to the toilet seat, resting against the tank as if to say, ‘hey, I agree with her!’ She grabbed me by my shirt and shoved me against the bathroom door. “I wouldn’t let you go to any woman no matter how much money she was willing to pay. She’d have to be pretty desperate to want a pig like you. Now, here’s how this is going to work. I’m going to tell you what to do, and you’re going to do it. Understand?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Good. You can start by fixing that.”, she said, as she threw me to the floor in the direction of the toilet. I reached up with a shaking hand and gently put the lid in its downright position.

“Good, dirt. Now, get your useless ass in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.”, she ordered. It went on this way for weeks. Her orders were clear, loud and unconditional. Finally, one day, after a particularly gruesome lesson on ‘Anticipate Her Needs - Don’t Make Her Ask’, I collapsed on the couch, tucked my knees into my chest, and cried like a baby. She stood over me and shook her head. “So, you’re giving up?”, she asked. 

“What else can I do?”

“Perfect.”

“What? Did you say perfect?” She sat on the couch, placed my head in her lap, and began stroking my hair.

“Yes. Perfect. You see, the woman that chooses you wants to know that you’re vulnerable. That she’s stronger than you. It’s important to her. And if she thinks that she can’t break your gentle spirit, well, let’s just say that you’ll remain single for a long, long time.”

“So, are you saying that I’m ready?=”

“I’ll let the company know that you’ve passed the test.” She stood up and walked to the door. As she reached for the handle, she turned and looked at me. She didn’t say a word. She did not need to. She simply smiled and winked. And just like that, she was gone. 

One day, that winter, I picked up a newspaper, having had my attention captured by the banner headline that read: Another Male Order Business Goes Bust. The story went on to tell of the demise of a dozen or so companies that preceded it.  Fortunately, Groom Mates wasn’t one of them. I ran to the company’s office and inquired about its status.

“Ted, you’ve got nothing to worry about. We’re solid.”, I was assured by the information officer. I took her word as gospel and went home.

I thought nothing of it until spring arrived. I was feeling a renewed confidence in myself (having survived Ursala’s tutelage) and hope was in the air. Turns out it was only smog. Before I knew it, it was fall again. Then, one, two, three years went by without a call. My dreams and hopes were being mocked. At the end of the fourth year, I could take no more and went in to the office to find out, once and for all, the truth. The building was deserted. There were no signs of staff or the hustle and bustle I’d grown accustomed to each time I visited. All that remained was the large registry where all of our names were kept. It sat on a counter at the end of the hall. 

I walked toward the mighty tome, hoping beyond hope that there would be some shred of good news contained within its covers. Slowly, I looked through the pages, one by one. Each name had the letters BAGGED beside them, which stood for Bride Accepted Groom - Guaranteed Expedient Delivery. Page after page had the same entries. Some of the names I recognized. I strained to see my name, but it was no where to be found. Finally, I turned the last page where, at the bottom was one name without any letters beside it. I gasped in horror as I read. The only one without a bride. The last entry in the registry. 

I was not prepared for the fallout from this. Emotionally, I was devastated. All the years I spent learning how to please a wife, were now part of a hollow past that followed me, like a shadow on a moonless night. Every face I passed on the street seemed to know my shame, and stared at me as if I had just wet my pants, and the crotch had that darkened veneer that accompanies one whose bladder control was lost - lost like me. 

But the worst part was how my family estranged themselves from me. It happened one night when I went to visit them and seek some solace from a world I no longer understood. My father was waiting  as I made my way up the porch stairs. He was behind the front door which was opened only as far as the chain lock would allow.

“Dad? What’s this?”

“I’m sorry, Ted. It’s best this way. When you leave, could you keep your car lights off until you’re around the corner. It matters to us what the neighbors think.”

“But Dad...”

“What?”, he yelled behind him, pretending that someone had just called his name. “It’s ahh, um, oh, it”s a vacuum salesman. I”ll get rid of him.” Then he turned back toward me. “It’s your mother. If she knew I was talking to you...well, you know.” With that, he closed the door and disappeared from view, and my life.

 

So, that was that. No wife, no family, nothing. I couldn’t face anyone with the truth. Who could. I made a desperate decision. The only one that made sense. I’d tell everyone that I was gay.


© Copyright 2017 Norman K. All rights reserved.

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