Time for a bit of lighthearted humor! I love a good laugh, especially at things I think people should laugh more about.
Simon Holder lives near Peterborough, England. Simon says (don't laugh yet) he has the photographs locked safely away so that he's managed to persuade Caroline to remain his spouse for 21 years. Despite his best efforts, they have managed to raise two wonderful, intelligent and amazingly balanced children, Becky, sixteen, and Alex, fourteen.
Simon has only recently started writing for pleasure and as therapy against working in the IT department of an (in)famous telecom company. His colleagues wanted him to chronicle company events, but Simon knew those experiences would be just too far fetched for people to actually believe.
He's written a number of short stories and is currently chancing his arm at a longer dramatic piece. As yet, he remains unpublished but hopes that one day his scribblings will reward him with a seat next to Terry Pratchett at a literary dinner.
Readers wanting to contact Simon should use this email address: red1hols@excite.com


The Plot

September 19, 2002

The Pig Breeders Gazette can provoke some incredible thoughts at two o'clock in the morning. Especially when it provides you with some escapism from a long and boring night shift.
One of the most remarkable episodes was sparked by an article by Philemon McArthur entitled, "Official: Men really DO prefer intelligent women!" The article itself was written well enough, but the subject matter really wasn't to my taste.
I didn't get any further than the opening paragraph of, Women around the country have often pondered if men select their women on the basis of intelligence or of beauty. This question can now be answered with certainty. Men prefer intelligence. Research, conducted over four years at Bracknell Polytechnic, has shown that men overwhelmingly prefer women with big IQs . . .
The picture of Philemon McArthur was enough to explain why she had received her results. Philemon's blue eyes stared out of the page from under a mane of raven black hair; long shapely legs crossed seductively. Her lab coat had at least one too many buttons undone and allowed a tantalizing glimpse of stocking top. If Philemon asked if I preferred intelligent women, I would have answered, "Yes!" like a shot if it offered up the chance of a few nights of research in her company.
The article caused a flood of letters to the Editor and added spice to the letters page. Generally, the correspondents fell into two camps, split along the line of gender.
Women generally took the line of, "Men say they want intelligent women, but are always drawn by the trouser fly to women with sexual allure like moths drawn to the candle flame." They then gave varying reasons to support this viewpoint, none of which painted men in a particularly good light.
Men, on the other hand, took a number of different views. Some complained that they liked intelligent women, but found that all they did was talk about it rather than doing it. Several of these also requested Philemon's contact details to see if she was available for some freelance research.
Another group of men proudly announced that they were only attracted to intelligent women. Most of these requested intelligent women to send a recent photograph to a Post Office Box number.
There were men who pointed out that when you first see a woman, all you have to go on is sight. (OK, maybe smell, but definitely NOT touch!) It is therefore natural for males to be drawn to women who stand out in a crowd.
I particularly felt for one correspondent who had been drawn to a beautiful blonde who stood open mouthed and wide eyed as he discussed the relative merits of the metaphysical poets. So complimented by her obvious delight at his discussions, he married her. Only later did he discover that she would stand open mouthed and wide eyed as he tried to explain how to operate the tin opener.
The debate raged on in the letters page for many issues. Deep debate being interspersed by letters from women readers warning that one Mr. X of P.O. Box 173, Rotherhyde, had an inclination to holding intelligent conversations in Braille.
One letter caught by eye because it was from Milton Redeye, a regular in my local pub, The Rat & Ferret. It was short and mystical.


The reason for this phenomenon is simple. It is because the female of the species are normally banned from the Male Changing Rooms after school games lessons.

Your humble and obedient etc.

Milton Redeye


That lunchtime, I popped down to The Rat & Ferret. The rusty white van, proclaiming that Milton Redeye was a qualified plumber and garden maintenance engineer, was in the car park. I had found my man.
Milton sat at one end of the bar in his dirty blue overalls, taking great care over the rolling of a cigarette.
"Hi Milton. Care for a drink," I casually and cheerfully greeted my prey.
"Oh, it's you." He looked up at me for a moment. "Told you afore. It's your water that's the problem, not my pumbin'. Your water is too thin, you see."
"No, that's all sorted now." I didn't want to start an argument. "I saw your letter in The Gazette."
"Shhh!" He looked up at me again and put a particularly grubby finger to his lips causing a few threads of precious tobacco to spill onto the bar. "Should never have written that. Knew it would be trouble."
In order to gain more information, I decided to loosen his tongue with a few beers. Milton's tongue was a lot tighter than his pipe joints. Quite a number of pints flowed down his throat before I could return him to the topic.
"You really wanna know?" He fixed me with a lopsided stare and lit another carefully rolled cigarette. It flared and turned to ash in one long inhale. "You really, really, really wanna know?"
In response to my nodded reply, he suddenly stood up. Grabbing me by the arm, he dragged me to his van. I got in.
We traveled in silence. Not because I didn't have anything to say, but because it is difficult to hold a conversation with your eyes screwed shut, your hands aching from gripping the seat and your mind occupied by running through every prayer you can possibly remember. The van screeched to a halt. I opened my eyes. We were at the local school.
"Cummon!" Milton grabbed my arm and dragged me into the sports hall. "This way."
We arrived at the door to the plant room. Milton closed one eye and stuck out a yellowing tongue as he threaded the key into the lock. With the door open, Milton ushered me inside and furtively checked the corridor to make sure we had gone undetected.
"Mind yer 'ead! Musn't make any noise!" Milton lead the way through a maze of pipes to a box on the far wall. "See! This is what does it."
"Does what?" I looked at the black box, neat wires and flashing lights.
"Proves the Philemon women is right." Milton's hand thrust deep into an overall pocket and produced another key. "You've got ter promise never, never ever tell anuver soul 'bout this!"
"Milton, I promise." I made the promise lightly.
Milton eventually overcame the struggle with the lock and the door opened to reveal a small cassette player.
"Is that it?" I turned to Milton with a feeling of anticlimax.
Milton looked around the plant room to once again check that we were alone. Once sure, he continued.
"It's a sublimimiminal messaging device! It's connected to the shower taps in the boys changing room." Milton's voice went down to a whisper. "You have no idea of the conditioning that goes on in the communal showers. As soon as a boy hits thirteen, they start the subliminal messages. 'Twas an accident I found out, when I were fixing a leak. Not even supposed to mention it. They swore me to secrecy."
"Conditioning?" I was not convinced. "What conditioning?"
Milton checked the plant room again. "Why der yer think it is that after the age of thirteen that boys don't do so well at Biology, eh?"
"Because it is boring, like poetry?" I ventured.
"Nah!" Milton waved an arm wildly. "'Tis connected to the conditioning. You see the sublimiminnal messages penetrate through their consciousness and before yer know it, they actually believe it. Course, there are exceptions, the lads who have a weak chest and a note from Mother excusing them from sports, they don't ever go into the showers, so they don't get the messages."
I countered with, "And those who belong to the Sect of Under Arm freedom. They believe water and especially soap are tools of the devil so only let their towel enter the shower?" My attempt at humour brought a blank look from Milton.
"Generally though, most of 'em 'ave this conditioning, twice a week for the rest of their time at school." Milton, turned and locked the small cabinet. "That Philemon women was right. When lads get to about fifteen or sixteen, they start to get interested in the girls. They want to find girls to share lifelong companionship. They wanna go to poetry appreciation classes. Have intelligent conversation and intellectual stimulation. Then the conditioning kicks in, you see."
"Errr, what is this conditioning exactly?" The question needed to be asked, so I asked it.
Milton tutted impatiently. "It's clever stuff. You see, the messages in the showers get lads to believe that how clever a gal, is directly proportional to the size of her breasts, and how willing she is to show her cleverness is shown by the way she displays 'em to the world."
Milton grabbed my arm again and dragged me from the plant room. "I pinched the tape you see. Listened to it in me van. They didn't know I took a copy of the key. It was packed with messages about how big breasts mean a women is clever and how big nipples mean that she is artistic."
Before I knew it, I was in the van again. Once it was in motion, my mind was again incapable of generating conversation. My power of speech returned when I was safely in the bar of The Rat & Ferret.
"You're saying it's a conspiracy? By who?" I still wasn't sure that Milton was spinning an elaborate hoax in order to be able to drink his fill of beer.
"Ssshhh!" Milton was obviously nervous, his voice was barely audible. "By the authorities. Stops youth from rebelling, you see. Too busy goin' around peerin' at breasts and nipples. Stops 'em asking questions and tryin' to change things."
In response, I dropped my voice to a whisper. "You are saying Philemon McArthur was right. Men are all looking for intelligent women; it's just that we have been conditioned to judge intelligence from the size of their breasts."
It was a lot to take in. The pressure in my bladder persuaded me to consider things in the Gents for awhile.
When I returned to the bar, two very large men in suits were talking to Milton. One carried a copy of the Pig Breeders Gazette. I lurked behind a fake butter churn and watched the animated conversation. The guy with the Pig Breeders Gazette opened it and pointed at something with a sausage like finger. Milton got up and left with the two men. Moving to the window, I watched as Milton was put into the back seat of a black Jaguar® and driven off. Shortly afterwards, a truck turned up and hauled away Milton's van. I never saw Milton or the van again.
I shouldn't have written this story really. They will probably come and visit me soon. I will disappear like poor Milton Redeye.
Should I stop posting stories, you will at least know why. Ladies, I did this for you. This is to put you out of your confusion. To help you understand. When men start looking at your body, staring at your breasts; imploring you to wear low cut tops and to set your nipples free by going bra-less; it is purely and simply because of Them and the conditioning. Us poor men are only trying to judge your intelligence the way They conditioned us.


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Read more Simon:
'Horatio Merrweather's Hole' by Simon Holder
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