top of page

Singles on the Prowl


As if stepping out of a Lana Turner movie, Marianne Kennedy arrived at the luxurious Omaha Country Club in a stunning yellow chiffon dress, matching satin heels, and a pearl necklace with pearl drop earrings. All eyes were on her as she strolled through the foyer and into the Gold Room where the Selects were having a dinner dance.


She spotted her best friend Myra Thompson and sat down next to her at a dinner table near the dance floor. Each table in the room was draped in white linen, set with sterling and crystal for eight people, and had a centerpiece that Marianne thought a little corny for a singles’ get-together—a lone white candle in a small bouquet of daisies and forget-me-nots.


Myra told her to move over a seat. “It gives me a chance to have a man seated on both sides of me,” she whispered.


Charlie Davis, a shy and homely man with a ruddy face, a construction worker’s tan, and a gaze that never left Myra for long, seated himself between her and Marianne. Myra’s eyes lit up. Her eyes lit up again when Ken Williams, the Selects’ outspoken and witty attorney with a limp from arthritis in his left knee, kissed her on the back of the neck and asked if he could sit on the other side of her, to which she was delight to say, “Yes, Ken, by all means do.”


Myra introduced Marianne to everyone at the table as a new member.


Minutes later, a voice from over Marianne’s left shoulder said, “Is this seat next to you taken?”


Marianne turned her head. It was the voice of a man she had not met. God, he’s gorgeous! she thought.


“No, it’s not taken,” she said.


The man sat down and scooted his chair close to hers. “My name’s Harry Malone,” he said.


“Hi, Harry. I’m Marianne Kennedy.”


“I know.”




“I asked someone when you came in,” Harry said with a grin. “I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you.”


Marianne’s face flushed.


Harry had already met Myra, but he introduced himself to the others at the table as the waiters and waitresses served the first course, lobster bisque. After the bisque and a vinaigrette salad, everyone chiseled away at the Nebraska beef on their dinner plates; folded into their baked potatoes lots of butter, cheese sauce, sour cream, chives, salt, and ground pepper; and gulped down a nameless red wine that a hovering waiter poured from a tall carafe.


Marianne and Harry exchanged a few pleasantries during dinner. But mostly, they just listened to Myra and the others at the table gush about the wonderful people they had met since joining the Selects; the club’s golf outings; the Wednesday afternoon bridge games; the weekend trips to play golf each summer at Lake Okoboji; and the Selects’ Saturday night dinner parties, especially those at Matty McPhee’s house in Regency. Everyone agreed that the mystery bus ride, which turned out to be a trip to Kansas City to have dinner and see the Christmas lights on the Plaza, was the highlight of last year’s activities.


During a dessert of Cherries Jubilee, Nuncio Pomodoro and his band played Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade.” Myra asked Ken Williams to dance, and he obliged. But when the dance was over, much to her disappointment, he wandered off to the bar without her. She returned to the table and pulled Charlie out onto the dance floor. They danced almost every dance thereafter.


Harry and Marianne danced together until Nuncio and his band played a polka. Then they went to the bar for another drink. The bartender fixed Harry a bourbon and water and poured a glass of Chardonnay for Marianne.


With drinks in hand, Harry suggested they take a look at the view from the large window behind the bandstand. At each other’s side, they sipped their drinks and gazed out the window at the potted geraniums and petunias on the patio and as much of the lush greenery of the golf course as the full moon and outside lights allowed.


After several minutes of silence, Harry turned to Marianne and smiled. “Now that we’ve met, had dinner together, and you know what a rotten dancer I am, do you want to tell me your life’s story first, or do you want me to tell you mine?”


Marianne smiled but did her best to avoid eye contact with Harry. She didn’t want to give away her strong attraction to him.


“Is that the way single people that are our age get acquainted?” she said.


“It seems to be.”


“You must be a new club member, Harry?”


“Yeah, I joined about a couple of months ago.”


“You’re an old-timer compared to me. I joined last week.”


Harry gulped down the last of his bourbon and water. “I get a kick out of the name of the club,” he said. “Selects is short for Socially Select International. If that doesn’t sound pretentious, I don’t know what does. Ken Williams, the guy who sat on the other side of Myra at the dinner table, is well connected socially in Omaha because he’s a hotshot attorney and has lots of money. My golf buddy Bob Bauer is also well connected—and for the same reasons. Several of the women might qualify as well, primarily because they’re wealthy. They inherited lots of bucks from their dead husbands or extracted it from their divorced husbands. But most of the members, me included, are not socially-select in Omaha, let alone internationally.”


Although Marianne believed it was true, she thought it unkind of Harry to say that most of the Selects’ members had little or no social standing. She also resented his crack about women who extracted money from their divorced husbands as if they were not entitled to any money or property from their marriages.


“You sound cynical, Harry,” she said.


“Maybe a little, but many a word of truth is said cynically.”

Marianne drank the last of her wine.


“From what I’ve observed, women benefit from singles’ clubs more than men,” Harry said.


“What makes you say that?”


“Women use them to corral, manage, and control the short supply of men. Take the Selects, for example. Sally Duncan, our illustrious, all-powerful, and charming director, and the older women in the club—her lieutenants—dominate everything. And they’re aggressive as hell. Many of the women I met at the bar tonight are hot on the trail of any man in sight. It didn’t used to be that way. Men used to chase women, but now it’s the other way around. And women are much better organized at it than men. They set up and run the singles’ clubs, otherwise known as meat markets. The men are the meat, and the women chase after them, hungry as hell.”


“Are you saying that all the women here tonight are after you?” Marianne said with a chuckle.


“Not just me—anything in pants, especially if he’s got big bucks.”


“I’m not chasing anyone, Harry, and I have big bucks of my own. So you can relax.”


“Sorry. I should have said present company excluded.”


“Yes, you should have.”


Harry hesitated. “Am I talking like a jerk?”


“Let’s just say you’re exaggerating.”


“But you have noticed some of what I’m saying, haven’t you?”


“I’ve noticed that some women get a little anxious when it comes to men, but I’m sure you men will survive it all and probably enjoy a lot of it.”


Harry cleared his throat. “As long as Sally and her lieutenants plan a lot of golf, I’ll be happy. And don’t misunderstand. I’m not worried about being managed and controlled. That won’t happen. Besides, I actually admire the women who join these clubs. They have the good sense to join and gain an advantage in the market over other women for us poor, misunderstood, and often maligned creatures who bring home paychecks and have male hormones, however sluggish after fifty.”


Marianne laughed.


Harry gazed into her eyes. “I hope I’m not being too forward, but I like you. I like your smile and the way you laugh.”


Marianne blushed. “That’s sweet, Harry. Thank you.”


“But most of all, I like the way you come back at me when you think I’ve gone too far with my bluntness.”


“I had four brothers who were like that, so I know how to handle it.”


“Have dinner with me tomorrow night.”


“Wow, you don’t waste any time.”


“At my age, I can’t afford to. So, what about it? Dinner tomorrow night?”


I wish I could, Harry, but I can’t,” Marianne said. “I do volunteer work with children at Richard Young Hospital, and tomorrow evening, they’re having a talent show for their parents. I promised to be there. But what about Sunday?”


“I’m leaving town on Sunday, but when I get back, I’ll call you. Is your number on the club members’ list?”


“Yes. Sally just put out an updated list, and my number is on it.”


Marianne glanced at Myra, who was motioning for her to come back to the dinner table. “Harry, Myra wants something. She probably wants me to go with her to the ladies’ room so she can find out what we’ve been talking about.”


Harry smiled. “I’ll walk you back to the table, but afterward, I want to say hello to some people I know at the bar. We can talk more over dinner when I get back from Chicago at the end of next week.”


At the dinner table, Marianne sat next to Myra, who had been waiting impatiently for Charlie to return from the men’s room. She told Myra everything Harry had said.


“Sounds promising,” Myra said with a gleam in her eyes. “You may well have snagged the best-looking guy in the club. But take it from me. Men have a tendency to show an interest and promise to call, but never do. For your sake, I sure hope Harry is not one of them.”


Marianne started to respond to Myra’s comments, but stopped when Myra turned her attention to Charlie, who finally returned to the table. And before he could sit down, Myra jumped to her feet and pulled him out onto the dance floor.


One man after another asked Marianne to dance, and she obliged, except when asked by a man who had had too much to drink. She felt sorry for the women who were never asked and seemed too shy to ask the men. She marveled at the way they maintained their smiles throughout the evening—although strained at times—and remarked at every opportunity that they were having a marvelous time.


Occasionally, she glanced at Harry, who spent most of the remainder of the evening at the bar, a highball in hand and chatting with other members of the club. She wanted to ask him to dance but didn’t want to give him the impression that she was one of those aggressive, controlling, and manipulative women he had shown so much disdain for earlier. I like him. I like him a lot, she thought. And I hope he was serious about calling me when he returns from his trip to Chicago.

Copyright © 2024 Frank Zahn. Publish in CafeLit Magazine, London UK,  January 30, 2024 -




Back to Top of Page

bottom of page