Sir Galahad Instead of Romeo

Sir Galahad poster

Howard Handsome is looking to be a gentleman and make women happy instead of looking for love now that he has reached the age of 60. That’s the gist of the story he started to tell me yesterday afternoon, when I accidentally met up with him at the deli. He was finishing his lunch as I came in.

I immediately walked over to him. We exchanged greetings and handshakes. I always want to inquire about his quest for romance since he got divorced a few years ago.

Howard started a new story as I began to eat my favorite deli specialty: a huge, thick, corned beef sandwich with pickle slices. He reminded me that his law firm was still representing a well-known Israeli hospital that had a funding branch here in Chicago. He was a rather large fund-raiser for the branch and, consequently, he had been invited to be the main speaker at the recent banquet.

He had been seated at the main table of 10 with other fund-raising workers and was pleased to see that there were three women at his table. He emphasized to me that he was looking to date women to have a good time, and that he was not in pursuit of love or “more.” He winked at me when making that statement.

There was plenty of stimulating conversation at his table. And after his inspiring speech, there were congratulations and a kiss on the cheek from each of the three women at his table.

“Who were these women?” I asked.

There was Patricia, 62 years old, a widow, and a psychologist with a large practice of counseling families and individuals.

Then there was Marvel, 52, and recently divorced after 20 plus years of marriage. She was a gynecologist at Lutheran General Hospital. Her income was much larger than her office manager husband’s and he couldn’t handle that, so he asked Marvel for a divorce.

The third woman at the table was Dora, only 48 years of age, never married, but an orthopedic surgeon and physical fitness trainer. Dora’s two professions kept her so busy, according to her, that she had no time for a husband, but she did make time for dating and enjoying life.

It took skill and daring, but Howard managed to secure the telephone numbers of each of them without any of the three discovering what he had accomplished.

Patricia, the psychologist, was a graying woman with a soft smile and long fingers, and she wore a moderately priced outfit to the dinner.

Marvel was a tall redhead with an imposing figure when she stood up. She was dressed in a white Christian Dior dress that reeked of money.

Dora was a scrappy blonde with delicate fingers and built like a professional wrestler. She wore expensive slacks and a knitted, imported blouse for the dinner.

It was only one week after that evening that Howard called Patricia and they agreed on a date. Howard picked her up at her office, which was located only a few blocks from Howard’s law office.

It was a Tuesday night and Howard took Patricia to the Art Institute, which was about a mile from her office. They chatted about the activities they had done that day.

In his previous, post-divorce dating, Howard had always taken his dates to very elegant and pricey restaurants. With his new regime of having fun and laughing instead of looking for love and romance, Howard and Patricia dined at the nearby Standard Club, where he was a long-time member.

Patricia wanted to know more of his past dating experiences and the problems he had encountered on those dates, especially why he struck out in his search to find a woman to marry. Howard thought to himself that taking a psychologist to dinner was a great deal cheaper than paying for an office visit, so he relayed some detailed information.

Patricia, in turn, asked Howard about some tax problems she was encountering and asked if Howard could advise her. The dinner lasted a little over three hours and it was a great success.

Patricia told him in the future to bring only one rose for his dates, not a dozen, as one rose was a wonderful, thoughtful gesture, but a dozen made a statement that something more serious was to be given in return.

Patricia also told him to act differently: take women swimming in the indoor pool at his club and don’t ask personal questions at the dinner table, unless the woman offered that kind of information. Not even a kiss on the cheek when first getting together or when the date was finished for the night.

Patricia basically told Howard to play it cool at all times, then he would have fun and laughter and maybe, just maybe, a little loving. He thanked Patricia and sent her home in a taxi, for which he gave the driver a substantial payment. Before they parted, he and Patricia set up another date for the following Tuesday night.

That next Tuesday, he picked her up at her office with one rose for her, a firm handshake, and a smile.

This time it was a trip to the Aquarium, and then dinner at an Italian restaurant. Again he sent her home in a taxi and paid the fare. The dinner this time only lasted a little over two hours, but was rife with questions back and forth.

These Tuesday evening dates continued for two more weeks, and each time Patricia provided a little more advice on how Howard should act and what he could do to please a lady, such as holding the chair for his date when she was sitting down to a dinner table, and, of course, letting the date order whatever she wanted on the menu, even if it was à la carte.

On that fifth Tuesday night date, when he picked Patricia up at her office, Howard gave her a peck on the cheek rather than a handshake, and Patricia complimented Howard on following her directions and not being too bold on their first four dates.

Then they toured a museum downtown and had a delicious dinner at the Italian Village. This time the dinner was only an hour and a half long. After they finished eating, Patricia took Howard’s hand in hers and thanked him for showing her such a fun and happy time over the last few weeks.

Howard grew worried that he had overdone it with that peck on the cheek when he picked her up. He thanked her for her kind words and when they left, he hailed a cab for Patricia who refused to leave unless Howard accompanied her back to her apartment and spent the night.

Howard was puzzled by this invitation. Was she planning to provide more “how to” information on future dating? Or maybe Patricia was the one looking for loving instead of fun and laughter? He found out by accepting her invitation. He’s still dating Patricia on Tuesday nights and protecting her by going home in the taxi with her.

Howard was surprised when two months after the hospital fund-raiser he received a call from Marvel, the gynecologist from Lutheran General, asking if he would be her escort for another hospital fund-raiser. Howard was flattered by the invitation and quickly accepted.

It was to be held on a Thursday night at a restaurant near the hospital. Howard would have to pick her up at work, for she would have regular office hours that day and could not make it home in time to dress properly and get to the dinner on time. Howard told her he would pick her up at 6 p.m.

They drove in his large Mercedes and he brought the one rose, a very ornately packaged rose, and presented it to Marvel. She was pleased not only at the gift but by the way Howard looked in his formal attire: a tuxedo that had been his bread and butter outfit for many years in attending these types of fund-raisers.

Marvel had changed from her white, medical outfit into a knock-out, silver, formal gown. The dress was very tight and revealed her figure to the fullest. It was an eye catcher for Howard as well as all the other men at the dinner that evening.

As is at most fund-raisers, there were boring speeches and slow food service, so Howard and Marvel had close to four hours of conversation at their table, not bothered by the other eight male attendees who were getting slightly drunk on the free booze.

Howard let Marvel tell her life story, her children’s stories, and her medical school hardships of being a female gynecologist in the male-dominated field of medicine. Howard surprised her by informing her that all four of his children had been born at Lutheran General.

They laughed at each other’s stories, and Howard took her home and walked her to the door, but waited until she was in the house before he got back into his car.

“Thanks for a wonderful evening,” he called back at her. She smiled at him and blew him a kiss. He’d have to ask Patricia, the psychologist, when he saw her the next Tuesday what it meant when your date blew a kiss at you.

He called Marvel again on Friday and they agreed again on a Thursday night date.

This time he picked her up at her house in Skokie and took her to a funny movie at Old Orchard. Then they had dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s, which is in walking distance of the movie theater. Dinner lasted two hours and then Howard took Marvel home.

She invited him in for coffee and told him of her daily working experiences, and the questions that husbands and their wives, the mothers-to-be, asked when they first discovered they were to become parents.

Howard just listened and Marvel poured some sort of liquor while explaining to Howard that she allowed herself one drink on the nights she was not on call. The sloe gin must have affected her brain, for soon she was explaining how women got pregnant.

This stumped Howard as he knew the answer. But he slowly sipped his coffee while Marvel explained the sexual lives of her pregnant patients. Then she told Howard that she would break her own rule and have another drink.

By this time Howard was almost falling asleep, but Marvel’s conversation was getting to him with her graphic descriptions of a woman’s body parts from head to breasts to vagina.

Trying to be a gentleman, Howard informed Marvel he had to be at work very early the next morning, but he would like to have another date with her for next Thursday night. She cried out with joy and kissed Howard on the lips as he left.

More Thursday night dinner dates followed with more visits to Marvel’s house featuring Howard, the listener, and Marvel, the speaker of what sex can do to a man and a woman.

A good listener until the sixth date, Howard returned to Marvel’s house when again she used the excuse about allowing herself a second drink, and then inquired, “Is there something wrong with you? For the past few weeks, I’ve entertained you with stories of love, sex, and all the details of a woman’s sexual anatomy and all you do is drink coffee, smile at me, and leave.” Howard stayed that night and has continued to date Marvel on Thursday nights and to stay over.

I had finished my lunch and started to leave, but Howard told me there was more to the story, so I quickly sat back down.

He had remembered that the third woman at the hospital fund-raiser was an orthopedic surgeon and a physical fitness trainer. He had kept the telephone numbers of all three women, so he called Dora for an appointment at her fitness center.

On his visit there Dora had him fill out a questionnaire of his routine and what Howard did in the way of daily or weekly exercise. Howard did not list those Tuesday and Thursday sessions with Patricia and Marvel. Dora told Howard to change into some workout clothes that she had in the back of the center.

Howard went on to tell me that she rubbed, stroked, and massaged most of his upper body, had him do some simple weight exercises, and made him ride the stationary bicycle in the gym. After the workout it was almost time to close for the day, so Howard asked Dora if she would like to have dinner with him at a nearby Chinese restaurant.

She agreed, and they spent a delightful two hours discussing ways and means for Howard to regain his strength, vitality, and alertness by doing regular exercises as prescribed by Dora.

Dora told Howard about her lifestyle, and the fact that going through medical school and starting an orthopedic practice with an outstanding bone and joint group in Chicagoland kept her quite busy and she made a large sum of money. The physical fitness center was something she particularly enjoyed and that is why she had started it, mostly to keep herself in shape rather than to make money.

She told Howard she had dated many doctors, but they were not fun as all they wanted was to talk about their surgeries or jump into bed on their first date.

Howard shook hands with Dora after dinner and she drove herself home. He made an appointment with her for the next Saturday at her gym and asked if she would go out for dinner with him again. She agreed.

The next Saturday, in late afternoon, Howard arrived with his one rose for Dora and his newly acquired gym shoes and gym clothing, and he started his workout. Those exercises were strenuous.

Pushups, and then lying on his back and pushing his body up to a one-foot height. She taught him how to turn and spin to enable Howard to get out of bed without incurring a charley horse or a fall.

Howard really enjoyed the exercises as they were essential requirements for making his bed partners more responsive to his lovemaking, and for them to appreciate his new agility and styles of the art of lovemaking.

After a month of these rough and difficult workouts, and all their dinners, Dora asked Howard why he was doing the exercises and then taking her out to dinner and letting her go home by herself. He had not even tried to kiss her or make a pass at her.

Howard told her that he was only looking for fun and laughter, not romance. Dora laughed at him and called him stupid. She told Howard, as she looked directly into his face on that last dinner date, that she too only wanted fun and laughter, but a little loving would also be fine with her. That was the start of Howard’s love trifecta.

On Tuesdays, Patricia would remark about Howard’s relaxed and ambitious new ideas in bed, while Marvel on Thursdays would exclaim at the many nice things that Howard offered her, both verbally and physically, with gifts following his learning sessions two days earlier with Patricia.

Finally, Marvel’s wordage, descriptions, and usage of all the female body parts, and how they each interacted, made for fun, laughter, and new adventures in sex with Dora.

I left Howard that afternoon wishing him luck and good health and, above all, strength to be able to carry on a sex trifecta every week at the age of 60. His parting words to me were:

“I’m thinking of writing a book about these three-day-a-week sexual activities. But I don’t know if anyone would be interested. Besides, I don’t think I have any strength left to write a book.”

Click here to learn about the humor book THE LOVE LIFE OF HOWARD HANDSOME AND OTHER SHORT STORIES, which includes other Howard Handsome short stories.