From my adolescent days with the mop of shabby hair and curly wisps for a beard, I was a great fan of that supersmart lawyer Perry Mason.
After getting over the childish fascination for Enid Blyton and the Famous Five and Five Find-Outers, I chanced upon a collection of novels by Earl Stanley Gardner.
Being young and inquisitive, I did take up one of them on a rainy day when the gloom got me. I was in no mood to pick up a Famous Five story as I had re-read all of them a trillion times. Even the thought of reading about the Famous Five’s hamper consisting of goodies doused with golden syrup wasn’t proving to be attractive any longer.
In fact, the entire thought of Blyton’s larder failed to inspire. So with reluctance, I picked up the Gardner, hoping that it would not complicate an “innocent” mind like mine.
The book was named The Case of the Gold-Digger’s Purse. I must confess the word “gold-digger” was beyond my meagre capabilities.
But I wanted to know. I was dying to know. So I started reading.
Then I knew. With due respect to all women and my apologies for sounding like a Male Chauvinist Pig, I was fascinated by the term gold-digger.
Oh God please, I wanted to meet one. My young imagination came out with vivid pictures of sultry women with dark lipstick, curly hair, steeped in make-up and a cigarette dangling from the lips. And calling me “darling” to boot. I dreamt and I dreamt – those wonderful nights when sleep came smoothly in the arms of this wonderful creature.
Life moved on, the years galloped by and then I met one.
She slid up to me one night at a party when the midnight hour was long past and the consumption of alcoholic beverages had crossed danger point. She was cooing like a dove and gently massaging the hands. I felt so like a man, a sort of Marlon Brando and James Dean rolled into one. I wanted my ego massaged further.
Having been an avid fan of the late Humphrey Bogart, I stuck a cigarette at a rakish angle and said, “You are some broad, ain’t you.”
My apologies again for using such a term for the finest creatures God ever created. But then, I was twenty something, drunk to the gills, with the mind fogged by spirits.
It wouldn’t have ended there if I had not passed out. I was hoping that the night would be forgotten. But things did not happen that way.
In a drunken stupor, I had told her where I live.
As expected, she turned up. Being a perfect host and a sort of gentleman to boot, I invited her inside. She came and sat next to me. I was a bit unsettled but managed to keep control.
Feigning an appointment with the doctor, I left in one piece within a few minutes. Then she called me the next day and the next. Somehow I avoided her. Then one day I relented and then we went out a few times. We checked out the best hotels and I spent lavishly.
But something seemed wrong. Somehow there was this feeling that she would sponge on me some day. It was waiting to happen.
Then for once in my life, I took the right decision. I called her one day and used the Direct Approach. There is nothing like the truth. So I put it bluntly to her and asked her what her intentions were.
The truth is never easy to digest. What I heard was pathetic. Everyone has a reason.
Today, we remain good friends, she happily married with three children.
Sometimes it pays to be direct, particularly if it helps.