It's All In The Game
by A. Charles Corotis


It's All In The Game: A selected Collection of Gay Essays
on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Mnemosyne,
Assayed from the Provocative Pages of
New Jersey's Literate Review Weekly, The Argus

By A. Charles Corotis



What a lovely, lovely word. What a lovely age. Seventeen. I hope June finds as much fun at seventeen as I did. For me it was the opening of a new world: out of school ... at work that I enjoyed ... on my first vaca­tion . . . my first serious romance— at least I thought at the time it was serious.

Her name was Fay. That's all I remember. We met at a vacation farm outside Collegeville, Pennsylvania. I was shy and reticent in those days—somehow my friends snort derisively when I tell them of my early introversion; or, if they're ladies, they slant a glance of genteel disbelief in my direction—and for the most part I pursued my courtship within my own heart. But not altogether.

We were seventeen, Fay and I, when Gus Kahn and Charles Rosoff wrote the song in 1924, and we thought it was written just for us.

"When you and I were seventeen, and life and love were new___ "

Now my song is the "September Song": "The days dwindle down to a precious few." But on one score Kurt Weill was wrong. It's not such a long, long time from May to Sep­tember, Seventeen seems only yesteryear to me . . . "that golden spring when I was king and you my beautiful queen."

And now my firstborn is seventeen, finishing secondary school, preparing for college, a wealth of activity behind her that I never had, opportunities denied me, or ungrasped by me. They should make her sojourn from May to September happier, fuller, richer in enjoyment of life's pleasurable treas­ures than mine. I hope so—and that's wishing her a lot.

While I'm in this uncharacteristically tender mood, let me make an observation. Lew Lehr used to say "monkeys are the craziest people." Seems to me people are the craziest monkeys, at least so far as love is concerned. Homo sapiens will scoff at such manifestations of love as the Rockefeller romance, insisting it can't be real; will deride such great pas­sions as Bergman-Rossellini, smugly ignoring the fact that when Cupid bends that bow he doesn't ask if his victim is eligible or worthy or even willing. Love is real and irresist­ible, it would seem, only when it comes to ourselves. Then we defend it and excuse any transgression in its name, offer­ing to ourselves the balm of palliation that we deny others.

I am moved to discourse on this intriguing subject by a scented epistle from one who complains of the unreasonable inconsistency of her philandering— and now cuckolded— husband and asks in a plaintive aside: "Why are husbands always so dull— your own, that is— while other women's husbands are always so fascinating?"

One question at a time, lady. That last crack opens up an interesting study of its own.

But for now I can give you no better answer to your first plaint than the obvious, hackneyed— double standard. What's good for the gander is not good for the goose under our scheme of things, unfair and defective as such an arrange­ment might appear. I know men who never attempted to conceal their infidelities, who actually flaunted them in their wives' faces and thought it was great fun—until the inevitable result: mistreated, neglected wife falls in love with someone more appreciative. Then friend husband reacts in characteristic manly fashion, roaring with shocked pain, self-righteously indignant, hurt, enraged, threatening, naively unable to understand how such injustice could come to him.

How demagogic can you be? And yet he's right; someone must uphold the sanctity of marriage and the future of family life. Man is a polygamous animal, and if he had his way, life would be one long bacchanal. Not all men, of course; but it wasn't mere whimsy that set the pattern of things from Mohammedism to Mormonism. Who ever heard of a harem of husbands?

So woman, with all her progress and freedom in this so-called enlightened age, cannot alter the way of nature. She can call to her hand all such weapons in the arsenal of womanhood as cajolery, flattery, tears and threats, but in the final analysis she must accept, licking her wounds and hiding her grief behind a front of simulated ignorance for the sake of family and posterity. Never may she retaliate in kind.

Don't tell me it isn't fair; I know it very well. But it's the way of life, and a fortunate way if our thin veneer of civilization is to remain unshattered, separating us from the anarchy of unbridled instinct.

Does new love, then, come only to men and unattached women? No. But wives must sublimate their feelings, must close their minds to the blandishments of "the wimpled, whining, purblind, wayward boy, this senior-junior giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid," as Berowne put it in Love's Labor's Lost. Never may she echo Goneril in King Lear: "O' the difference of man and man! To thee a woman's services are due: my fool usurps my bed."

Maybe she can take refuge in the advice of Byron:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods; There is a rapture in the lonely shore; There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.


Veterans' organizations are demanding licensing of home builders .... Is television improving? Even Berle looked good to me the other night. But then it was his first show of the season. Maybe he'll revert to character. Jackie Gleason is tops in my video book .... The Oscar Hammerstein story hit a new high in TV entertainment, despite the presence of frozen-faced Sullivan. But how could it miss, with that wonderful music? . . . Clifton Fadiman puts on a good show, but he must be a very patient man. George Kaufman is as obstreperous as Oscar Levant used to be. Well, Mary Astor liked him, so he must have something .... "Place In the Sun" is high-powered drama, as anyone who has read An American Tragedy realizes, and Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor give effective portrayals. But in its lighter moments it parades a nostalgic pageant of popular music of Dreiser's day. All in all, an excellent, moving picture. The scene in Alice's room that night with its tragic consequences was a masterpiece of suggestion, showing how Hollywood has progressed in its handling of delicate situations. And how far public opinion has advanced in permit­ting realism that only a few years ago was taboo .... "Painting the Clouds With Sunshine" isn't much, but it too offers a pleasant panorama of old time song hits, and presents gorgeous Virginia Mayo, once merely Danny Kaye's foil, as MGM's answer to Betty Grable. That "Birth of the Blues" number is real Grableish, saucy and nasty. If only the doll could learn to act! Well, what d'ya want, Corotis, egg in your beer? Or, as Falstaff put it in Merry Wives of Windsor: "Pullet-sperm in your brewage!"