December 9, 2023

No News From Doodlebug Island, by William F. Jordan


It has become the practice of my wife and several of her girlfriends to conduct a fall

shopping expedition to New York, where they stay at one fancy hotel or another, consume

late afternoon maitais following many hours at Macy’s, Borgdorf’s, and Bloomingdales before

dressing for an evening at the theater and a late dinner at Sardi’s. Contemplation of the next

extravaganza begins follows hard on the heels of their return, and involves a critique of their

recent triumphs and those things they mean to improve.

Needless to say, we husbands are less than enthusiastic about these annual pilgrimages.

In part it’s because we’re unsure of those motives that seem to be at work, and because

financial ruin looms spector-like before us. But it is probably more due to the fact we have no

similar engagement of our own to plan and execute. We seem to have the organizational

skills of a Republican-led coalition on health-care reform, and our efforts have so far been met

with failures of the most humiliating type. Typical was the junket we undertook two years ago

to Las Vegas where we intended to gamble and misbehave in ways our wives couldn’t find

too objectionable. Right off the bat, one of our number had what the rest of us thought was

an infarction, and we spent the entire time–together with the kitty we’d accumulated–at the

urgent care center where we eventually learned it was simply an upset stomach. We’d

traveled there in his car, so we couldn’t do him in until we arrived back home, and by that time

we had gotten over the worst of our pique.

This year, we’ve thought of using psychology on our wives. Doc Hastings suggested the


“Nothing else has worked, sarcasm, ridicule, cajoling, threats of divorce, outright

forbiddance. What say we hit ’em where they’re most vulnerable, right in their own homes!”

“How’re we gonna do that?” asked Hank Wooten.

“Why, we simply behave like the slobs we would like to be,” said Harlow Fennington

whose normal behavior is only steps away from the course of events he advocated. “Leave

dirty dishes in the sink, dirty clothes all over the house, trash and litter everywhere! Believe

me, they won’t want to leave again!”

“I’m the one in our family who can’t stand the clutter.” replied Steve Bennett, a banker of

fastidious tastes. “No, I think a junket of some kind is in order. After all, there is the matter of

eating. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would rather face a firing squad than eat

anything I fix.”

“Well, why don’t you guys come to my house,” said Steve Hatter, a local agronomist, “we’ll

order takeout and use my wife’s fine china. She’ll want to kill me when she finds things still in

the sink, but that might just discourage her from leaving again.”

“Oh, I like the idea of takeout,” replied Lafe Rogers, the only dentist among us, “and I’ll

host if you’re willing to eat out of the carton.”

“You can all come to my house,” I suggested, “but stop and get whatever you want to eat.

Just get enough of whatever it is for me, too.”

“We’ve got to do something,” urged Doc. “My suggestion is that we pretend to be delighted

at this opportunity to live the bachelor life, and that we get ourselves invited to dinner and

parties every night our wives will be gone.”

“That’s a good trick if there were any chance we could pull it off,” I replied, “but in the first

place no one is going to invite us, and in the second our wives will nix any party that can’t be

postponed until they get back.”

“Not if the invitations are from our old girlfriends,” replied Doc, knowingly.

“What old girlfriends?” I demanded, sensing difficulties and troubles fraught with

unintended and altogether negative consequences.

“Aren’t you the bird that writes embellished and highly fictionalized accounts of people’s

lives under the auspices of that publishing rag you call the Doodlebug Island Publishing

Company? I can’t think of anyone more qualified to provide us enhanced versions of possible

romantic contacts, or am I wrong?”

“You’re wrong on several levels, my friend. We practiced a little deception in persuading

our wives to have us. And we’ve carried that deception past all reasonable expectations. I’m

for counting our blessings and wish the girls well.”

In the end, that’s what we did.

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