Another Runner-up.

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Fitzgerald’s premise:
“Andrew Fulton, a facile character who can do anything, is married to a girl who can’t express herself. She has a growing jealousy of his talents. The night of her musical show for the Junior League comes and is a great failure. He takes hold and saves the piece and can’t understand why she hates him for it. She has interested a dealer secretly in her pictures (or designs or sculptures) and plans to make an independent living. But the dealer has only been sold on one specimen. When he sees the rest he shakes his head. Andrew in a few minutes turns out something in putty and the dealer perks up and says, ’That’s what we want.’ She is furious.”

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Now comes the story of how I lost Kitty 2, my second wife but one true love, and how, in the process, I became a star of the Broadway stage and the toast of New York’s avant-garde art scene all the while continuing to expand my turfgrass empire. More people than you can imagine have asked to hear this story, a tale that may serve as fair warning to other handsome, disturbingly talented men such as myself—men who can do anything yet fall in love with tragic young girls who cannot express themselves. An inability to express oneself is the saddest flaw a person can have, particularly someone with such a heart and excellent set of legs as my Kitty 2.

Kitty 2’s original name was Agatha Chew (and she may have switched back to this maiden name, so those seeking the reward for her capture, take note), though she went by “Aggie” then, a name more suited for an obese, proletarian service employee than a woman with excellent legs. I immediately changed this to “Kitty,” that being the name of my then-current wife and thus easier to remember. At that time, my turfgrass empire, Andrew Fulton’s Turf, included just California and Nevada, with limited influence in Texas and the Plains states. Kitty 2 didn’t know anything about turfgrass when I met her, which was good because it gave us a lot to talk about on those first few speed dates.

It took a while for Kitty 2 to warm up to me being that she couldn’t adequately express herself. For example, instead of saying something like, “You’re the most amazing man I have ever met,” she’d say, “Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?” But once I expressed my love of zoysia and detailed my net worth, we bonded.

What impressed Kitty 2 most back then, however, was my skills in the arts. Pan flute, knot-tying, pewter figurine painting, astral projection—you name it: whatever the medium, I could instantly prove myself a master. Kitty herself had dreams of being some breed of artist and had the legs to do it, though I told her many times she’d make a better mannequin. She’d laugh these suggestions off in her distinctively Kitty 2 way, exposing her molars and looking as though she wanted to destroy something.

I then divorced Kitty 1, a short-legged wench my mother made me marry, and Kitty 2 and I were wed in a huge ceremony in Las Vegas. We walked naked down the aisle on a verdant carpet of zoysia and spent our honeymoon visiting the various golf courses I’d turfed in Palm Springs and Palm Desert before returning to my home in Simi Valley. Kitty 2 took classes in ballet, capoeira, and the harp but could never quite find her niche because she was clumsy and talentless. I supported her as much as possible, even took up each of these pastimes for fun and mastered them quite by accident. Kitty 2, I think, grew jealous. I tried to tell her no one should compare themselves to me, but envy consumed her and exacerbated her inexpressiveness. Rather than say something like “Andrew, instruct me in your ways. Let me be your grasshopper!” she’d say, “Why don’t you shove this harp up your unoriginal ass?”

The Junior League show, however, was the beginning of the end. Kitty 2 did a number of charity events with the Junior League, and I was a keen enthusiast even for this—a musical interpretation of evolution entitled Four Billion Years!: The Musical, written and directed by Tad Pimpleton, one of those grandiose Hollywood washouts all too common in the Valley. He cast Kitty 2 as a trilobite. She was disheartened, having yearned for the lead role of T. rex, which went to Pimpleton’s daughter, a hideous girl with a big head and short arms. Kitty 2 had one song, an ensemble piece with a hundred other women entitled “We, the Nine, or Possibly Ten, Species of Trilobite Who Dominate the Seas of the Lower Paleozoic,” and although the number was terrible, seeing her in that fabulous costume of tulle, blue tights, and fiberglass cephalopod excited me even if she did resemble a pill bug, which was bad for turfgrass.

If you know anything about contemporary musical theater, you’ve no doubt heard this part of the story—how Four Billion Years!: The Musical began in failure. Sitting in the front row, I could immediately sense this; that, despite several lovely solo performances including “I’m Just a Lonely Carbon-Based Molecule” and the show-stopping “Welcome, Flowering Plants,” the show sucked. People around me fell asleep. Then I realized that all the show really needed was a naked man, so I tugged off my clothes and burst onto the stage amid a chorus of giant cockroaches. The audience clapped hysterically, stomping their feet as I broke into an impromptu song entitled “Just Can’t Wait for the Pleistocene, So Here I Am in the Pennsylvanian,” after which Pimpleton dropped the curtain and ended the show.

My inspiration saved the night—a fact confirmed the following day in an L.A. Times review that declared my surprise cameo a “stunning burlesque performance” that made the show “worth slogging through three hours of utter mediocrity.” Pimpleton demanded we move the show to Broadway, and that’s how we ended up in New York.

Kelly 2 was livid about the whole thing. I couldn’t understand this at all; she was free to continue playing a trilobite! However, in a jealous rage she burned her costume along with large sections of my favorite shag rug. Fortunately, I realized that what she meant to say was “Andrew, I am in awe of your excessive talents!” although what came out was “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

After we relocated to New York, she grew very secretive. While working as a Broadway star, I continued operations on my turfgrass empire, both of which kept me quite busy, so I couldn’t keep up with Kitty 2’s activities. Apparently, she rented an art studio in Manhattan and took up lessons in sculpture. Little did I know that as I wandered about the townhouse in the nude, as was my wont, she’d secretly snap photos and render quick sketches, then race to her studio. All of this she kept under wraps until our second anniversary, when I cooked up a special dinner of grilled monkfish and savoy cabbage (I had, of course, managed to work in a mastery of culinary skills after Kitty 2’s failed attempts). Ignoring my heartfelt professions of love, she declared her desire to be a sculptress and said that Bartleby Ghee, the famous SoHo gallerist, had purchased one of her works. He was to visit her studio that night.

“What terrific news!” I declared, surprised not only by her aggressive tone of voice, but by the fact that she was able to do something, which I thought could never happen. Yet the look on her face suggested this was bad news, a fact confirmed when she stated that once Ghee purchased her other works, she could afford to live independently and would initiate divorce proceedings.

I pleaded with her, begged her to stay. She was my one true love! Those legs! Those molars! Who could resist the incredible mouthfeel of those lips on one’s toes? No other woman reminded me of damp sod as did Kitty 2! I told her this, and she threw the monkfish at me.

I did, however, convince her to let me see the studio. She said I could come only on the condition that I spoke neither to Bartleby nor Jon-Jon, her sculpture teacher, and that I put on some clothes. We took a cab to the studio in a fashionable uptown neighborhood. The place was a hideously spartan, white room cluttered with chunks of clay everywhere and dominated by a life-sized statue of me in the pose of Michelangelo’s David. Me! I was thrilled, though upon closer inspection realized the piece bore very little likeness, being grotesquely disproportioned with lovehandles and a small penis. Cautious of her feelings, I said nothing and merely suggested the work should stand upon a patch of zoysia. Kitty 2 ignored me and, in the moments before the art dealer and her teacher arrived, extracted the fiberglass cephalopod from her trilobite costume, which she’d apparently salvaged from the flames. This she placed atop the chiseled lump of the statue’s head.

“It’s called Husband Rendered as the Fucking Ancient Sea Cockroach That He Is,” she declared, looking triumphant. I pretended to be flattered but sensed this was not the response she’d intended. So I wandered into a dark corner of the studio as the art dealer and her sculpture teacher arrived.

The two men looked very much like you’d expect art people to look—berets, long-handled mustaches and heavy capes of dark velvet. Upon entering, they marveled at the piece. However, as they walked around the studio and studied the other works that Kitty 2 had readied for viewing, I could sense a distinct change in both men’s reactions. Bartleby extracted a monocle and would occasionally peer at the other sculptures, which, it seemed, were mostly busts of my head done in clay then disfigured by what appeared to be a blunt, heavy object.

After several minutes, Bartleby shook his head. “The Husband piece is exquisite. All else is rubbish. We may leave now.”

Kitty 2 exploded into tears, begged Bartleby and Jon-Jon to reconsider—said the new works were rushed and not representative of her vision. Hovering behind a ruined bust of myself, I thought quickly what to do. Next to me was a vat of some red putty so soft and moist-looking I’d already gotten my hands into it. Resisting the urge to roll around in the stuff, I hastily fashioned the first thing that came to mind, the thing I loved most in the world after a soft bed of emerald zoysia: Kitty 2’s legs. I knew them so well it took but a few minutes. Just before the freight elevator arrived, I leapt from the shadows.

“Wait!” I said, dashing up with my creation. “You forgot this one.”

The men turned and studied me. The sight of all that wet clay had caused me to remove my clothes some time earlier, so I stood there, naked, holding this life-sized pair of red putty legs, when Bartleby pointed and exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s what we want.”

The rest, of course, is avant-garde art history. Bartleby tried to purchase not only the legs but me as well, having never met a man with such highly developed sensory organs. He and Jon-Jon convinced me to do a one-man show in Bartleby’s gallery, a performance piece called Untitled (Man Rolling on Grass Under 12 Pairs of Red Putty Legs Hanging From the Ceiling), wherein I rolled around naked on a bed of zoysia under 12 pairs of red putty legs hanging from the ceiling for two hours.

But Kitty 2 had had enough. The following day she packed her clothes and departed, leaving me with her harp, her capoeira abadas, and her ballet shoes. I was wrecked for months, even had to cancel several weeks of Four Billion Years!: The Musical and suspend the Bartleby performances while I searched in vain for her. And I’m still looking. If you see her, please contact me. You’ll recognize the legs, I promise. I shall never again find such a woman; I’ve already tried! Kittys 3 and 4 were dismal failures. Oh, those legs! Oh, Kitty 2! I am but a facile man who can do anything. And without you,

I am still but a facile man who can do anything!