When I was a boy, I used to get my philosophy of life stories from Old Herbie, who owned the local candy store in my neighborhood. I even enjoyed his tales when I was an adult. He was the most admired old man around.
He was a bachelor and he was his own man. If he wanted to wear his old jeans, slippers and Cub baseball cap in the store, he would.
He liked baseball games, poker, drinking a shot and beer, and going muskie fishing in Wisconsin.
In the lounge of his flat, above the store, he had a jukebox, which was filled with his old Spike Jones records. In his bedroom, hung his most precious possession, a 50 pound muskie with teeth as sharp as surgical scalpels.
When he caught the muskie it had bitten off Old Herbie’s finger. So, he had the muskie mounted and also his finger, and they both were on the same wall.
Old Herbie was the neighborhood hero!
Then everything changed. He met Betty the Beautician.
Herbie’s appearance changed. Instead of his old jeans and Cub cap, Betty had him in suit and tie. He stopped drinking and fishing. She had him take her dancing at the local ballroom every week.
He had to take his trophies down from the bedroom wall. Betty replaced them with an oil painting of a nude Greek God. She thought the painting was romantic. Herbie didn’t. She also, put her Perry Como records on his jukebox.
They eventually got married. The ladies in the neighborhood thought it won’t be long, because of Herbie’s advanced years, that Betty would become a well-to-do widow.
I remember the funeral.
Betty looked great, nice dress, fancy hairdo, and a new necklace.
Standing there, crying, Herbie looked down at her and said:
“I thought she’d hold up better than that. Too much dancing.”
He then went home, put on his jeans and Cub cap, and re-hung the muskie and his finger back on his bedroom wall!