Luring the Recluse | HumorOutcasts

Luring the Recluse

November 22, 2014

A 17-year-old Hungarian girl lured chess champ Bobby Fischer out of seclusion with a letter that began “I would like to sell you the world’s best vacuum cleaner! Now that I have your interest, turn the page.”

Endgame, Frank Brady

Fischer: “That is one bitchin’ cool vacuum you’ve got there!”

CORNISH, New Hampshire. I have come here, like so many other disaffected youths before me, to meet The Great One, The Master; the man who looked into my soul in 1951–even though I wasn’t born yet–and understood me, the way my parents and sometimes even my friends don’t! I know, I know–lots of other anguished, tormented adolescents have tried to meet J.D. Salinger before me, only to be rudely rebuffed if they so much as cross his property line.

But–I’m different. Not only does he understand me, I understand him! In a way nobody else has–ever! And so even though the property is posted with “No Trespassing!” signs, and even though America’s Oldest Living Adolescent has been known to threaten fans with physical violence, I know in my heart of hearts he’ll listen to me. He understands me, and I understand him!

That’s why I’ve brought along the Black & Decker Dustbuster Bagless Cordless Hand Vac. With unsurpassed sucking power and the convenience of cordless, the 14.4-Volt Cyclonic model is the only vacuum to have around the house, when you don’t want anybody around the house!


I have come to the Beverly Hills Hotel to try and break through the outer–and even the inner–circle of close confidantes that surrounds Howard Hughes, former boy genius, aerospace pioneer and world-class horn dog. I have read of his obsessions with the size of his peas and the movie Ice Station Zebra, which he plays on a continuous loop and is reported to have watched 150 times in succession! This is not the behavior of a healthy man. If he would only buy the Bird’s Eye Frozen Peas I’m sure he would be pleased with the uniform size achieved by the food industry’s top quality-control specialists.

I know what a stickler he is for detail–how he wrote a detailed memorandum to the film crew on the set of The Outlaw with suggestions to fix a flaw in Jane Russell’s blouses that made it look as if she had two nipples on each breast. Howard, I would say if I could only get through to him–don’t sweat the small stuff. Two nipples on each breast is a good thing!

“Go ahead–count ‘em!”

But it’s his damn obsession with germs that causes him to erect such formidable boundaries. He stays in his film room, surrounded by Kleenex boxes, which he continuously stacks and re-arranges. I can help him, dammit! I’ve got the Purell NXT home Hand Sanitizer system, with two 10-ounce refills!


“I vant to be alone, I just vant to be alone,” she had said, and I always honored her wishes. When Greta Garbo bought an apartment in New York I would sometimes see her on the streets and I yearned to reach out to her, to tell her that I was unlike the others, I was someone she could trust.

Garbo: ”I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you . . .”

In her last recorded comment to the press she tied Calvin Coolidge’s world’s shortest interview record when Paul Callan of the Daily Mail began his first question by saying “I wonder . . .” to which she replied ”Why wonder?” and left. That’s what I was up against.

But then I saw her on the street, and I couldn’t control myself. I drew myself up, took a deep breath–I knew I’d only have one chance–and approached.

“Miss Garbo,” I said in what I hoped was a polite, non-threatening voice.

“Yes?” she said calmly, igniting a flickering flame of hope in the votive candle of my brain.

“My mom used to swear by the Oreck Hoky Wet-Dry Carpet Sweeper,” I said breathlessly, gulping for air I was so nervous. “You really ought to try it.”

Con Chapman

I'm a Boston-area writer, author of The Year of the Gerbil, a history of the 1978 Red Sox-Yankees pennant race, and 50 books of humor including "Scooter & Skipper Blow Things Up!" by HumorOutcasts Press. My work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor and The Boston Globe among print outlets. "Rabbit's Blues," my biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington's long-time alto sax player, will be published by Oxford University Press in September.

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2 Responses to Luring the Recluse

  1. November 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    This is great: sort of a mix of the J. Peterman catalogue and a Bissel infomercial! I just laughed

  2. Kathy Minicozzi
    November 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    You should have every ad agency in the U.S. demanding your services! 😀

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