A BOW FROM THE AUTHOR
Without assistance no one man could have written so monumental a work as this Outline of Love. Much valuable help was given to me by Dean William Emmish, proctor of Lawford University, and by the Hon. William Doubloon, the proctor of Procter & Gamble, makers of excellent soap.
I am indebted, too, to Mr. Walter Winchell for his kind encouragement; and to Mr. Reginald Denny for his nifty performance in the Western company of Blessed Event.
The writer would positively be a skunk if he didn't acknowledge his debt to The Life and Loves of Colonel Harpo Marx, by the Colonel himself; the underwear ads of Best & Co.; the Sunday editions of the New York Morning Gazette; and Miss Phyllis Wiekowski, the chambermaid of the Mansion House in Jacksonville, Florida.
I must thank, also, the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica for their admirable volume, Remo to Sog; the publisher of La Vie Parisienne; the dandy little nudists' colony in New Hampshire; and the subscription salesman for Ainslee's Magazine, for without his persistence I should never have gotten the Encyclopædia.
I got no little assistance from O. O. McIntyre's Thoughts While Strolling; H. G. Wells's Outline of History; the monthly statement of the Silver Rod Cigar Stores (as of June 15).
But my main source of information was the filthy post cards I picked up on the side streets of Paris.
Millions of years ago Love ran wild on this spinning globe of ours. Men were slimy creatures resembling a louse or the fellow your wife almost married. They were called Amba — until they got money, when they changed their name to Irving.
To be frank — and you do want me to be frank, don't you? — there was almost nothing lovable about the early Amba (Irving). They had no small talk; their figures were certainly not attractive; and they didn't have a nickel.
In fact, they lacked even spines, arms, legs, teeth, and eyes. But they had Love.
It was, of course, fortunate that the Amba (Irving) couldn't see; because if he had been able to take one look at his mate the affair would have pffttt* and our earth would now be as uninhabited as your local Bijou Theater during the Wednesday matinées.
This is not to suggest that the Amba (Irving) was thinking of the future. His little mind was on nothing but his mate, whom he would meet under a stone ...
You know what the asterisks mean as well as I do, so don't get coy with me. If you'd only stop leering and remember that this is a book of science, we could cut the reading time of this installment from twelve minutes to nine.
As I say, the earliest men and women used to meet under a stone, which undoubtedly explains why their era was known as the Stone Age. (See Professor H. M. Maring's Precious Stones; or, The Life of Fred and Dorothy.)
We will not devote much space to the Ambolithic Age, because the Amba (Irving) contributed almost nothing to the development of Love — unless you want to consider that trivial song, Amba Wrong, But I Think You're Wonderful.
It was not until the Oyster, which came immediately after the Amba and right before the soup, that a touch of refinement was given to the tender relationship between the sexes. The male Oyster was born with an instinctive understanding of feminine nature. He knew that if you wanted to get anywhere with a lady Oyster you had to bring her gifts. So he hit upon the idea of making pearls. This was not the only ingenious thing the Oyster ever did: for even today Oysters make excellent stew, cocktails, and soufflés.
But don't misunderstand me. The Oyster of today is not the Oyster of fifteen million years ago — unless by any chance you happen to eat at Joe's De Luxe Sea Food Grotto when he's short on ketchup. And then they only taste the same.
For, although the early Oyster (Oysterolithic Man) led a full Love life and birth control was comparatively unknown, he died out thousands of years ago. Why? Because the foolish Oyster, idling away in the Oyster bed, was an easy prey for more powerful living things. At that time he had no protecting shell or armor to defend himself from (to name only one foe) the Salmon, which was hostile and very cunning. The Salmon, as you know, hides in tin cans and comes out only on Sunday evenings when your relatives pop in unexpectedly for supper. The canned Salmon is, of course, notoriously undersexed, and yet it has managed to survive. It is found in all ages and all good delicatessens, and is very nice with tomatoes and chopped onions, but I still prefer marinated herring.
To digress,** I must point out that anthropologists fail to tell us how the earliest man learned the Facts of Love. My own deductions are that the Amba (Irving) and the Oyster got their knowledge, just as you did, from the stories of flowers and their pollens.
But I am not a student of plant life. The only plant I know is the one Phil Baker has in his box at the Palace Theater, and his Love life is not of sufficient importance to include in a work of this kind.
At any rate, after the plant life came the animal life; then the Mutual Life; then the New York Life, and then the agent — telephoning you that your insurance had run out.
This is known as a lapse; there are twenty-eight to a mile, and none of them is worth sitting on.
We now leave the Oysterolithic Age, and no one is happier than I am.
THE CAVE MAN
Fifty-two thousand years had gone by — a mere flash in the unfathomable thing called eternity ... Eternity! Its vast endlessness is difficult for the imagination to comprehend, but I think I can make the whole thing clear. Take, for example, the distance between the sun and the earth. Or, better still, take any number from one to ten. Double it. Add twelve. Subtract your original number. Is the answer nine? Of course it is!
Now, if you multiply that nine by millions of light years, you get some conception of how important Love later became to the hairy brute (Homo cavus) sitting on a mossy rock outside his cave, wondering when the depression would end.
Man had now acquired arms, legs, spines, and eyes. His chin had begun to recede, a beard covered his face, and he was now ready to apply for membership in the Union League Club. (Although the club had not yet been built, there were already members sitting in the windows — no doubt waiting for the club building to be put up.)
In spite of his beard, the early cave man had the mentality of a child; and it was only by instinct, rather than by reason, that he could detect one sex from the other. He could tell a woman from a man, but he couldn't tell why. This primitive ignorance was very embarrassing to the Homo cavus until one rather advanced brute — Emig Bik — made a discovery. As he stood in front of his cave all day long, watching people come and go, the explanation dawned on him. The ones who wore skirts were women; the ones who wore pants were men!
From then on life was considerably simpler. The cave man stopped walking on all fours, because the same Emig Bik pointed out that if you walked on your feet you needed only one pair of shoes instead of two.
Of course the Shoe Manufacturers Association filed a protest, but nothing was ever done about it.
Life was simpler, and yet it still remained confusing, hazardous, disturbing. All the elements of nature terrified the cave man. He shook with fear at the sight of lightning. And when thunder roared he blamed it on the gods and wished that he could write, so he could write a letter to the London Times — if there had been a London Times. In those days the London Times was a restaurant called the Brooklyn Pig and Whistle, and Niagara Falls was a little thing not much bigger than a shower bath.
LOVE IS DISCOVERED
The early cave man (Porgie amok) was sullen and fearful on stormy days. When it rained he remained in his cave instead of going out to kill bears, deer, and dinosauri. To be sure, he was dressed to kill, but the wind howled and the rain poured, and the primitive man was afraid.
In his cave he found nothing but boredom. He had not yet learned to talk to his mate. And Love — human Love — was something he knew nothing about. (Children were not discovered until the following year.) So the cave man and his mate sulked and growled while they waited for the rain to cease.
They waited one day, two days, three days — then a week. But the storm's fury continued and there was no more food in the cave. The primitive man was hungry, and so was his wife, who said nothing — chiefly because there was no language at the time.
The brute man glowered at his wife.
If the rain didn't end pretty soon he would be compelled to eat her — and she knew it. She grunted, which was her way of letting him know that she hoped he'd find something else to eat.... But the rain went on and on.... The time had come. With a savage growl, the brute man leaped for his wife and started to bite her shoulder. As he did this, his paw touched the woman's flesh.
The touch of her gave him a strange, exhilarating sensation. He bit her again — this time more tenderly. His hand strayed through her tresses, and his soul tingled. Then instinctively he threw his gnarled, apelike arms around her soft white shoulders, and felt his body pulsating against hers. She, too, felt and was astonished by this amazing new sensation. Their bosoms heaved; there was ecstasy in their embrace as they panted out what to you would be mere guttural grunts but what to these primitive people were the first sweet sounds of Love.... I could go on like this for pages and pages, eager reader, but I too am only flesh and blood and I've got to keep my mind on my work.
And so eventually the storm came to an end, and the early brute man was sad. He didn't want to go out. While his neighbors were roaming the field in search of food, he stood at the edge of his cave, hopefully peering at the skies for the first sign of rain. He wanted to tell his friends how the rain had brought Love into his cave, but there was no common language. There was, in fact, no language at all — only grunts, which meant: "How are you?" "I'm fine. How are you?" "Can't complain. Say, you look very well with the hair on your chest bobbed." "Glad to hear you say that. The wife thinks I look like a dude."
So with silent eagerness Porgie waited for rain; for Love was gnawing at his heart. On one afternoon the clouds in the distance told him it was going to rain in the valley thirty miles away. And he started in this direction as fast as his squat legs could carry him. In his wife's opinion he was going hunting, and in a way she was right.
After running till nightfall, Porgie reached the valley, where, surely enough, it was raining. His heart sang as he entered a cave and found a woman alone....
The discovery of Love spread like wildfire. Porgie became known as the Great Lover who stayed at home waiting for rain. He waited, also, for the invention of a language, so he could tell The Boys about his amorous exploits. If there had been words, he could have composed a little poem (later to be written) about himself:
Kissed the girls
And made 'em cry.
But there were no words. And there was no rain!
Once it looked as though the skies were about to weep, and Porgie made Love. And Love made of Porgie a prophet once more. For it didn't rain, and Porgie had discovered that the mating season is not dependent on the sun, the clouds, or the rain. The mating season opened (then, as now) on Jan. 1, and ended on Dec. 31.
A year had passed. A little brute was sitting in the corner of Porgie's cave, sharpening a rock on his feet. He was called Johnny Weissmuller. And the cave man and the cave woman grunted. In their simple way they were content. They didn't know that a new civilization was springing up in the Far North.
THE GLACIAL AGE
With the Glacial Age (between 45 and 70 among the Latin peoples) we need not concern ourselves for long. It has been called an age of frigidity among the sexes, but this is probably an inaccuracy.
All in all, there was little to interest the Glaciolithic man. Around him there was nothing but ice, which was obviously worthless without mineral water or ginger ale. And it was no uncommon occurrence for him to return home and find his mate a chunk of human ice.
Women, too, came home to find their husbands icy; and the task of warming them was a tedious one, and far from an incentive to Love. Professor H. M. S. Wimpble tells us of a Glaciolithic woman who, on entering her igloo, found her mate frozen in the arms of another woman. After heating them back into consciousness she said to her husband:
"Who was that lady I thawed you with?"
What his reply was is not on record, because Joe Miller had not yet been born.
All in all, it was a most unpleasant age, and we've given too much space to it already.
THE AUTHOR'S GUARANTY
Many people write about Love without ever having come, in contact with it. But until you have brushed a woman's cheek with your trembling lips, and brushed your shoes with your wife's new guest towel, you know nothing about Love, or your wife.
Love is not something you can learn from books. For Love is an elusive sprite that leaps from nook and cranny and taps you with its magic wand, then flits away like the first Hounds of Spring.
It's not such a bad piece of writing, that last sentence. I've seen worse in books that sell for three dollars. In fact, that's where I saw this.
But getting back to Love (cardiac hortatorium, or Joe), I want to assure my readers that this Outline is the real McCoy; fearless, straight-from-the-shoulder, blown-in-the-bottle, A-1 history, and no questions asked. As I wrote to Professor H. M. Thorndyke of the Boston Anthropological and Wet Wash Society (who, now that I think of it, has been too busy to answer), I am willing to guarantee the truth of every word in this book
If anyone can prove there is a single inaccuracy on one of these pages, I will gladly donate five thousand dollars ($5,000) to the Mrs. Groucho Marx Care and Betterment Fund for the Care and Betterment of Mr. Groucho Marx and, as second prize, fifty cents (50¢) to each of the kids.
Be sure to write legibly, on only one side of the paper, even if it's no more than a postal card saying it's been raining every day and that Aunt Molly had another baby.
LOVE IN THE DARK AGES
I'm not going to tell you much about the Dark Ages, because we historians know very little about that period. Frankly, it was so dark that no one could see what was going on; and those who did see were too polite, or embarrassed, to tell.
At any rate, we know that plenty did go on in the Dark Ages. I know, for example, what used to happen in our house when the parlor was dark. My brother Harpo, in looking for the piano, often would play the maid by mistake. And Chico, looking for the maid, had to content himself with the piano.
It wasn't long before the neighbors complained. And the maid, too. For she, in her sweet childlike way, happened to be in love with my father. It was a gentle, unspoiled, girlish devotion, except that she wanted him to sell the children and run away with her to New Jersey, where her brother had a farm on which he raised little farmers and big welts*** on his wife's back. (This was before the agricultural schools had introduced scientific irritation as a substitute for rain.)
To my father's everlasting credit it must be said that he never for a moment thought seriously of selling the children and running away.
"What would anyone give me for five used boys?" his voice boomed throughout the old red mansion. "I think I'll stay right here."
That's the way Ole Marse Marx always was on the plantation. And that, no doubt, is why the slaves loved him for his kindness, his understanding, and the fact that he was the only landowner in the county who had never owned a whip. (To show their gratitude, the slaves took up a collection and bought my father a whip, which he laughingly used to flog the living daylights out of them.)
In looking back in the direction of the Dark Ages, I like to remember the charming tribute that was paid to my father by Sheriff Montgomery Britt of Hominy Bay County. He said: "I hain't never seen Ole Marse Marx cheatin' at cards. I'm keepin' my eyes peeled."
As I have tried to indicate, life in the Dark Ages was a constant state of confusion. History tells us of a hungry Neanderthal man who, unable to see where he was, began eating the edge of his cave. He supposed it was spinach, with perhaps a little more than the usual amount of sand.
Whereupon his wife said, or tried to say (because language was not yet understandable):
"You can't have your cave and eat it too."
But the poor Neanderthal man, not knowing what she was talking about, continued eating until he had consumed the entire cave. He still thought it was spinach.
Polyandry (or, as it is now known, Polly Moran) is the marriage of one woman to a group of men.
Unheard of in the Stone Age and Iron Age, and only rumored about in the Dark Age, Polyandry made its first definite appearance in the Baggage — those dismal years when a man couldn't take a woman to a hotel unless he had a suitcase or a woman. Anyway, there were no hotels at the time, thus making it possible for a traveling man to stop at farmhouses, where there was only one bed and many mighty fine jokes, which I won't bother to clean up here.
All this, as I say, happened in the Baggage. Which reminds me that among the Romans women were called "baggage," a word derived from the Latin impedimenta, or The Winning of the West. Since then a girl has often been called "a pretty baggage," or "bag." And Mrs. Gladstone, wife of the great English statesman, was known as the first Gladstone bag.
Perhaps I am getting ahead of my story. But what about you? By this time you've probably gotten to page 68, taken a cold bath, and slipped into bed on a hot-water bag. Do you think I can deliver my lecture if you don't pay a little attention? You can pay a little now, but we'll have to have the balance when the lecture is delivered at your back door, with a fine baseball bat and a shining new air rifle which is just the thing for shooting away the landlord.
What I'm trying to say is that Polyandry splits up the alimony payments instead of placing the entire burden on one man. But the hell with it — money isn't everything!
THEN CAME THE TALKIES
Love was none too easy for the prehistoric man. Having no language, he could talk only with his hands. When he wanted to tell his mate he loved her, he socked her on the chin. When he wanted to say, "I'm hungry," he socked her on the chin.
Sometimes he socked her on the chin merely to see if she could Take It, and all this was very confusing to the silent Little Woman.
For she seldom talked back. When she did, her husband would sock her on the chin again, and this sort of conversation was known as chinning.
True, the Little Woman could say a few simple things in pantomime, but they were pretty dull, as they are to this day. For example, when she went down for the count of ten, that meant, "You sure said a fistful, honey." And when she stayed down longer than the count of ten, that meant she probably was faking, just to make the thing look good, so they could fight again next week.
It was obvious that the world needed a language. And, as history has shown us, necessity is the mother of invention, just as the last one over the fence is a nanny goat. So in a short time (a mere thousand years as the crow flies — or five hundred years if it's an eagle) the first crude language was being heard.
*** ***Obsolete Times Square adverb meaning "pffttt."
** Editor's request: Please keep off digress.
***See H. G. Well's Outline of History.
****This should be a footnote, but my feet hurt.
Publication Date: June 10, 1933