Shopping done, I loaded up the car, turned the key, and pressed the Start button on the music box, wondering what the shuffle might bring me: there are, after all, 5,056 tracks to be had. The orchestra started up, and I smiled, as I always do when Sinatra comes on. And this one I hadn't heard in a while: "The Tender Trap," from a 1955 MGM film in which Frank sings it better than Debbie Reynolds does. For that matter, the main title of the film is pretty swell in its own right, with Sinatra looking positively Sinatra-esque.

First random thought: Can you even say "trap" anymore? If you're not thinking Admiral Ackbar, there's always this:

A pre-op transwoman who is both passable and hot. The kind that, when you find she's packing heat, you just don't care.

How was I supposed to know she was a trap? Well, of course I banged her. She was hot.

I'm not entirely sure I buy that particular definition. "Pre-op," after all, suggests the inevitability of "op," and while for some it is, for others it most certainly is not. More to the point, the very word suggests some deception on her part; I've seen The Crying Game often enough — okay, twice — to believe otherwise. Not that I have any experience points of my own to cash in.

And that thought being way out of my wheelhouse, I stretched a bit and waited for the next one: this being a Sammy Cahn lyric, after all — music by Jimmy Van Heusen — I could pretty much count on there being a next one before the song ran out. Sure enough, there it came, right on schedule, accompanied by a substantial mental "WHAP":

Some starry night,
When her kisses make you tingle,
She'll hold you tight
And you'll hate yourself for being single.

Now I know from hating myself for being single: it's a condition with which I am distressingly familar. But the word that choked me up was "tingle." Have I ever actually tingled? I'm not entirely sure I know what it means. Then again, in matters of the heart I am perennially clueless: on one particularly painful occasion, I remember opening my eyes and seeing what I read as a sudden attack of migraine.

She stared. "Haven't you ever seen a woman tingle?"

It took me a couple of seconds to realize that this was not, in fact, an invitation to conversation. ("A little less conversation," said Elvis. "A little more action." Since Elvis is everywhere, I take him seriously.) The mood, fortunately, had not entirely passed. "Thinkery-fuckery," Allan Sherman once called it, and it is the sworn enemy of passion.

And furthermore, it doesn't matter how pleasant the motions are if you're just going through them. Was I just going through the motions? I don't think I was. But thinking is inimical to the process in the first place, and as everyone knows by now, I was born to overanalyze.

Still, I'm not one to knock the idea of a starry night, assuming one can get far enough away from city lights to actually see some stars. (Which, come to think of it, is a plot point in The Sparkle Chronicles.) Women, however, can tell if you hate yourself, whether for your chronic bachelorhood or for any other reason, unless they're as pitifully unperceptive as I am, and the few I've met who seemed to be subsequently proved to have hidden reserves of wisdom, at least enough to give me the cold shoulder.

But Sammy and Frank still have it right: love is the tender trap. I simply, at this point in the cycle, doubt my capacity for it. Just my luck to be right about something for once.

The Vent

  22 September 2015

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 Copyright © 2015 by Charles G. Hill