Louisa May Alcott wrote “nothing is impossible to a determined woman.” I’m inclined to agree with her.
I was reminded of this recently while on an expedition to one of those big retail emporiums, where I saw a guy who looked like my old pal Lurch. It wasn’t him, but he, too, cast a long shadow.
Lurch lived in my old neighborhood. His mom called him Eugene, but everyone else called him Lurch.
He was tall and tended to stoop a bit on account of hitting his head a lot. His appearance reminded people of the butler on “The Addams Family,” which is how he got the nickname.
Lurch attended our school, and the coaches insisted he go out for basketball, even though he wasn’t good at it. He was slow and awkward, so his chief assignment was to stand in the way and create an obstacle for the opposing teams. He was about as effective as planting a tree in the court.
Lurch was a good-natured fellow, but if there was one thing he avoided, it was girls.
It wasn’t that he disliked girls; It was more that he was deathly afraid of them.
Lurch was generally quiet, when he wasn’t falling over the furniture, but it was worse when girls were around. If they happened to catch him on his own, he suffered a sort of vocal paralysis.
If a strange girl encountered Lurch when there weren’t other guys present, she was likely to leave the interview with the impression he was mute or foreign, or possibly both.
He also turned quite red and perspired profusely in the presence of girls, especially pretty ones, so people often suspected he had some kind of medical condition.
Because of these factors, it caught us all by surprise when a woman actually set her sights on Lurch.
Melody Morgan transferred to our school during our senior year when her family moved to Duluth from Eveleth.
Melody, or Big Mel as the fellows called her when she wasn’t within earshot, was what you might call a robust young woman. She wasn’t so much overweight as generously proportioned. If coach Heikenen had found himself suddenly in need of a starting defensive tackle, Mel could have stepped in to fill the vacancy.
Mel’s voice had a raucous quality to it, not unlike that of the first mate on a fishing trawler off the coast of Newfoundland who is used to shouting over North Atlantic gales to make himself heard. But when Mel spoke to Lurch, she practically cooed.
It became apparent soon after Mel appeared on the scene that she was interested in Lurch.
He in turn became more nervous than ever. His normally placid expression was replaced by the haunted look of a hunted animal.
Lurch refrained from going anywhere if there weren’t other guys around. Even if there were, he tried to make himself as inconspicuous as possible when Mel was present, which wasn’t easy for a guy his size.
If he saw her coming, and if there was an avenue of escape available, he took it, trampling everything in his path with the subtlety of a bull moose crashing through the underbrush in a northern forest.
Women have a natural ability to get rid of guys in whom they are not interested. They are masters at giving guys the old brush-off in no uncertain manner. This is much more difficult for men to do, and for guys like old Lurch, it is practically impossible.
He had all he could do to speak to women in the best of circumstances, but to tell a woman especially a determined one to take a hike was beyond his ability. His only defense was to try to outmaneuver her.
This went on for some time, with Lurch getting more skittish and Mel getting more determined as her hunt progressed.
It might have gone on indefinitely had Mel not decided to corner Lurch at his residence.
Lurch had been home alone enjoying a refreshing beaker of fruit punch when he caught sight of Mel lumbering up the driveway. With surprising speed for a guy his size, he sprang to the window and closed the curtain, then headed for cover. He hadn’t time to get out of the living room, so he dived behind a chair to hide, upsetting a side table and his glass of punch in the process.
He stayed stretched out on the floor paralyzed with fear, keeping his eyes closed in the hope that if he couldn’t see Mel, she couldn’t see him.
Unfortunately for Lurch, that wasn’t the case.
She banged vigorously on the front door, bellowing his name sweetly, or as close as she could get to sweetly.
Lurch remained motionless on the floor.
Receiving no response, Mel, who had seen Lurch’s car outside, peered through the window. There was a gap between the curtain and the edge of the window. Through this gap, Mel observed Lurch’s motionless south half sticking out from behind a chair. She also noticed an overturned table and a pool of bright red liquid spreading out on the floor.
Mel shrieked, sending flocks of birds fleeing from nearby trees. She hoofed it to the residence of the nearest neighbor to summon help. This was before the age of mobile phones, so it was necessary to find a phone in order to make a call.
Mel conveyed to the dispatcher that the man she loved had been brutally murdered in his home. Soon, uniformed officers arrived on the scene, where they found Mel hopping up and down imploring them to hurry.
The commotion on the front porch brought Lurch out of his paralysis, and he sheepishly got up and opened the door. His face was redder than the spilled punch, because he was almost as uncomfortable speaking to authority figures as he was speaking to women.
Lurch eventually convinced the officers he had not been murdered, and the whole episode had been a misunderstanding.
The officers left. Mel picked up the table and helped Lurch clean up the mess.
Lurch realized, like many men before him, that there is no stopping a determined woman. Realizing resistance was futile, Lurch resigned himself to the situation. From that day forward, the two of them were seen about town as a couple.
Lurch was still a quiet fellow, but that didn’t matter, because Mel did enough talking for both of them.