Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Romantic Larry Behr, 88: A Young Man on the Prowl for Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

My old friend, Larry Behr, 88, is shown here in his tux before singing this month with the Bristol CT Choral Society. Having survived the loss of two great longtime loves, Larry is back living full steam ahead -- and is on the prowl for a new romance.

I remember having lunch with him 18 years ago to celebrate his 70th birthday. As we sat there, I thought, "Oh my God, seventy years old!" Now I wouldn't mind being that young.

A former sales manager for 28 years at the same New Jersey company, Larry is quick to say that he is not the retiring type. He is independent. He has his own money and has had the same financial advisor for 20 years.

He lives in his own large, comfortable home. He has all his "cookies." He is fully mobile. He drives. He sails. He travels. He keeps up with current affairs and can expound at length on the pros and cons of President Obama's policies.

A whirlwind of interests and activity, he is always doing something.
“Idleness is my enemy,” he said. “Time on my hands gets me down thinking about Elaine (his last great love who died three years ago)."

A bright spot in Larry's life is that Elaine's family of five grown children (and 16 grandchildren), have reached out to him and make a point to include him in family gatherings. He deeply appreciates this and wants to remain a part of the family as he has been for 18 years.

He is also close to his sister Norma in New Jersey, and his nephew Mark and wife Leslie and their son Alan. But they are in New Jersey and Larry is three hours drive away in Connecticut. The distance is difficult to surmount regularly.

The running joke with Larry and me is that I have applied for and received court custody of him. I tell him that I don't like bothering him, but the court requires regular visitations. He laughs.

Larry's sense of humor  marches on as if to its own imperatives. The sign here is typical Larry Behr humor. It is near his front door and greets every visitor.

He blames his poor mother for his sense of humor. “Wherever she went, even to the store, she would come back with a story about somebody she met or something that had happened,” Larry said.

Larry's stories are legendary and come out when they have to, which is all the time. You have to run off somewhere. Too bad. You have to hear a story on your way out. Not feeling yourself, Larry will have a story for you. It may or may not make you feel better. It may or may not be funny. It may, actually, be awful.

But quite a few are hilarious. Many are cultural jewels from his childhood, from his wartime experiences in World War II, from his stint hosting a Connecticut radio show – and thus the sonorous voice – and from going on nine decades of living.

Normally, I limit Larry to three stories a visit. He good-naturedly goes along with the limit, but never stops trying to slip in an extra story. I gently, but firmly, shut him up.

He is also a thoroughly addicted punner. When you thank him for something, he invariably says, "my pressure.”

No matter what is happening in Larry's life, the punning never stops.

This evening, Larry was singing with the  150-strong Bristol Choral Society. He is a baritone. The Bristol Choral Society does not hold auditions. Anybody is welcome to join. The Society sings everything from Latin liturgy -- in Latin -- to modern pop. This particular evening the choral group also performed a beautiful continuous selection from Cole Porter.
When a select group of women were singing alone and Larry was sitting in the audience with us watching, he said, "Fourth from the left. That's the one I have the hots for."

"Larry," I said, as his legal custodian, "those days are over for you. Don't you think it's time you acted your age?"

"No. I really, really like her."

He explained that he had already approached her and learned that she was involved in a relationship. "She told me that it wasn't going well," he said brightly, "so I gave her my card and asked her to call me when she was ready. She's a beauty."

Larry also has a business selling and fixing antiques.  He calls it “Fetherson and Fothergil, Purveyers of Antiquity.” His business card offers restoration and repairs of the following: Weapons. Scientific. Clocks. Tools. Primitives. The last one applies to people and things. He makes house calls. The card sums up his business as “specializing in almost everything.”

Rarely does one see or hear of a business with almost no interest in making money, but Fetherson and Fothergil is such a business. “I'm not doing it to make money,” Larry said. “I'm doing it for people, to see them, to be around them, to talk to them.”

In pursuit of his own surely quixotic idea of business, Larry hits the antique shows, fairs, and other places where antique-lovers gather. While serious businesses follow the money, Fetherson and Fothergill goes to where the people are. 

Larry's “customers” don't need fat wallets; they just need to love antiques and be willing to hear Larry's stories and tell him their own. He will charge something for his wares and services, but it is largely a front to maintain appearances.

“I'm cheap,” he said. But he is quick to add that he does quality work. Should there be any doubt about that, it is dispelled with one look at the beautifully restored fine antiques displayed throughout his home.

If you are an antique-lover and are in the market for a cheap antiques purveyer and restorer who makes house calls, there is a number you can call. It is 860-585-6484. In conscience, however, and in the interests of full disclosure, there is a caveat.

If you are a woman, you must understand something. Larry Behr is on the make, actively looking for a pretty young thing. He may be 88, but he is looking for romance, actually for the next love of his life.

“I'm on the prowl,” he admits. “I'm looking for a meaningless relationship.”

“Aren't you a bit too old to be even thinking about dating?”

“Look,” he said not the least bit sheepishly. “I like girls.”
So girls -- excuse me, ladies -- watch out for Larry Behr. Also, he has been known to dangle enticements, as in this photo. There, you have fair warning. Here is a young man on the prowl for life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. 

So long and keep moving.

                                     Amazon E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his real-life experiences growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison; "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life; "A Long, Happy, Healthy Life," is about how to live the title every day; and "Unlove Story," Writing anonymously as "Elvis," a husband, dumped after 38 years of marriage, lets it all out on love, marriage, life, everything. A guy doing this? It's unheard of.
For the Nook:

A Beautiful Story
A Long, Happy, Healthy Life
I, Cadaver

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