A Modest Proposal
by Alan Berecka

    "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

She enjoyed playing hard to get. When he
had arrived, after a morning spent aboard
the train from Amsterdam, she was unimpressed
by this bald man who was much older
and shorter than she. But then she was taken
by his wit. Her eyes sparkled in his brilliance.
At the end of the formal date in her parent’s
parlor, they shook hands and promised to write.

And they did. Their letters grew longer,
and she began to grow attached to the idea
of having quick witted children, not the thick
and brawny kids that she was Aunt to. She courted
as she played pinochle—she kept her cards close
to the vest. In the second year near Christmas
when he proposed in long hand, she answered
coolly. “Should you return to Utica and ask
me in person, I might consider the matter.”

For years she was pleased to have made him sweat,
but as their five children began to age, she learned
why they call wit sharp. “Dad how did you meet
mother?” It was a question her clever mate
loved to answer. “I had come to Utica on business.
At the corner of Genesee and Bleeker, I saw
a young woman. She was not bad looking,
but she was crying. And so I asked, ’Miss
what’s wrong?’ She replied, ‘I’m nineteen
and no one will marry me.’ I looked at her
one more time and then said, ‘Stop crying.’”

She might as well as burnt those letters
she had saved, for three generations later
she’s known only as the bride with dried eyes.

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