(Extended spoof, presented In 10 installments of 4 pages each. This is the fourth installment of ‘just say no to sex’; previous ones are presented below each new installment, in case you miss one or more.)
“But before I move on to the next section,” Dr. Coburn told Dan, “let me point out that you actually have, not just three, but an entire armory of defensive words you can turn to.”
“How do you figure?”
“Consider all the things that you immediately associate with the words I gave you. For example, take Tyrannosaurus Rex. What comes to mind?”
“Fossils,” Dan replied tentatively.
“Very good,” Dr. Coburn commended him. “Now try Texaco.”
“Taco?” Dan wondered.
“Oh, I get it,” he said. “Taco, burrito, old bones, gasoline, self-service!”
“Right! And what’s the principle behind what we’ve just discovered? The core words of your defensive system have ancillary associations that you can hurl against an encroaching enemy when and if the need should arise.”
“Wow, talk about empowerment! I can think of associations all night.”
“Good. But these words only constitute your first line of defense. Now that you’ve mastered them, it’s time to move deeper into the Coburn Method, which brings us to my rock-solid Axioms of Abstinence. How are you holding up?”
“I’m ready to go on.”
“Good, good! Then let’s dive right in and begin with one of my most charming and self-evident axioms. Number ten.”
“Ten?” Dan wanted to know. “Why don’t you begin with one?”
“Excellent question!” Dr. Coburn ejaculated. “I thought you might ask. Do you expect to be tempted in numerical order? No! You must be able to think of any axiom at any moment. Therefore, I teach them is as chaotic a manner as the tumult of desire itself. Got it?”
“Wow, you thought of everything.”
“And so I have,” Dr. Coburn conceded, proudly heaping the laudation on himself. Now, here is axiom ten. Listen carefully. ‘Winking leads to interest. Interest leads to intimacy. Therefore, winking must be avoided.’ Please, repeat that.”
“Right,” Dan said, concentrating. “’Winking leads to interest. Interest leads to intimacy. Therefore, winking must be avoided!’”
“Very good! Got it the first time! I’m extremely satisfied with your progress!”
“Thank you, sir. You don’t know how grateful I am. But can I ask a question?”
“Go right ahead.”
“Are there ever exceptions to your axioms?”
“Dan, an axiom is just what it says it is. Axiomatic! I wouldn’t call it an axiom if there were exceptions to it. The wonderful truth is, all of Coburn’s Axioms of Abstinence are as definite as a railroad track. You follow them and you’ll get where you’re going. And the sooner the human race says, ‘All aboard,’ Coburn’s train, the sooner we may all travel to a land of incremental bliss, where, in moderate and healthy numbers, we shall cultivate a rejuvenated and resplendent earth, at least, for as long as the dynamics of the universe permit us to continue on it, which, we trust, will be so many eons the possible terminus is the least of our worries.”
“But don’t you think some people might jump the track?”
“Oh, no doubt about it, Dan. But one cannot be dissuaded by the inevitable handful of weak-willed fornicators. One must keep his eye on the far horizon, the shining ideal, and then whatever is within reach becomes attainable. I can assure you that, despite these occasional exceptions, Coburn’s Method will have its day. And why? Necessity, my boy! The great, silent force that adjudicates all of our tough decision-making. My approach will be victorious or else we are doomed to a world where the reckless billions will be squeezed shoulder to shoulder, breathing the unbreathable, drinking the undrinkable, and dying like flies from disease and hunger, while even then no doubt some utterly uncontrollable lunatic will attempt to slip in an orgasm. And that dire comeuppance does not even take into account the regrettable tragedy that we will have by then left precious little room for the other creatures of the earth. Moreover, how long can we expect that nature will be patient with our burdensome and plagued numbers? We might, in fact, be surprised at any time by a sudden environmental collapse, in which we could all die off like the dinosaurs.”
“Yes! I’m talking here about no less than a sex-inflicted mass extinction!” Then the doctor grew calm for a moment. “I will give you an example, on a miniature scale, to prove that such an extinction may well happen. It is the tale of a rustic tragedy that befell me some years ago when I owned a summer place with a small trout pound. In spring, when the water was cool and rich in dissolved oxygen, the lovely trout leapt and fed at every bug that fell upon the water. Then the heat of summer came and much of the oxygen evanesced from the water. The trout, feeling listless, seemed to disappear. The lake was as still as a watery grave. I, the uncomprehending owner, mistakenly concluded from the inactivity of the finny creatures that there were no longer enough of them in the pond. Perhaps, I thought, the muskrats, otters, and birds of prey had eaten many of them. I was, in fact, so inexperienced in the ways of the wild I imagined each time I stocked the pond that the observant land creatures were sitting on the hillside, clapping at the bountiful feast that had just arrived. And what did I, the amateur aquaculturist, do? I decided to order more trout from the hatchery. And what happened? The next morning I awoke to find every last trout in the pond belly up. There were simply too many of them for the amount of oxygen in the water – and they had all suffocated overnight!”
“That’s really sad.”
“Immensely! And that morning I learned the greatest lesson of my life!”
“What, Dr. Coburn?”
“That the adaptability of the environment and nature’s seemingly irrepressible will to live have their limits, which, once trespassed, lead on to inevitable ruin. I realized the potential fragility of the biosphere and how overpopulation might precipitate its sudden and irremediable collapse. It was, in fact, at this time that I began my quest for a workable, ethically unimpeachable restraint on the self-defeating human proclivity to overbear children and, along with the activity required for such fecundity, to communicate HIV and other STDs.”
“I’m glad you shared that story with me. Wow, talk about an experience. Let me just say, I hope someday your method works for everybody.”
“Thank you, Dan. I appreciate that. Frankly, I’ll settle for almost everybody. The fact is, there is simply no available alternative with equal potential. I ask you, can we expect adequate success in population control and disease prevention with condoms? If so, why are the problems still with us, while in these fearful and sorrowful times condoms sprinkle down upon the earth like perpetual autumn leaves? And can we hope for the universal availability of any sort of artificial contraception in the most desperate voids of the world? No! I tell you, the only answer resides in the human mind, a solution needing only to be reinforced by my method. Just think of it, Dan! No further scientific breakthrough is necessary. All that is required is the power to say, ‘No!’ ‘No!’ to every occasion that may lead to arousal! And we’re all aware of what arousal can lead to, aren’t we?”
“What, Dr. Coburn?”
“I refer you to Coburn’s Fifth Axiom of Abstinence,” he told Dan, and went on to quote it. “’Arousal leads to contact. Contact leads to sex. Therefore, arousal must be avoided.’”
“Boy, you really know the material. But how can I avoid arousal? I mean, I’m not responsible for the way I’ve been designed. I see a cute girl, and – bingo! – there I am, aroused. I’m just trying to live with the setup.”
“Yes, and quite a challenge it is, Dan. Which is precisely why I devised Coburn’s Forty-Seventh Axiom.”
At that moment, Melanie entered, as if to check on the progress of Dan’s tutelage.
“Ah, just in time, Melanie. Darling, tell Dan one of the ways to avoid the snare of arousal.”
“I just came in to say I’m going out.”
“But before you leave, give him my forty-seventh axiom. Nothing inspires like a good example.”
“Do I have to?”
“Please, for Daddy.”
“Oh, all right,” she said, and stared off to prepare her recital. “’Attraction leads to familiarity. Familiarity leads to arousal. Therefore, attraction must be avoided.’”
“Excellent, as always, Mel!” Dr. Coburn effused.
“Hey, Melanie, good job,” Dan told her. “I can’t wait to know the material as well as you do.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said.
“Now, now, Mel. Give Mr. Fox a chance.”
“That’s all I ask,” Dan told her.
“And that’s all you need, my boy,” Dr. Coburn assured him. “Soon you, too, will know exactly how to say no – no to winking, no to attraction, no to arousal, no to touching and kissing, no the whole gamut of sexual enchantment!” he concluded. “Now, I think we’ve covered enough for today. See you back here tomorrow, same time, OK?”
“Tomorrow?” Dan asked.
“As I said when we began, in the early stages, we need to get you as close as we can to total immersion.”
“OK, I’ll be here. I want to move ahead as fast as possible.”
“Mel, if you want me to, I can walk with you,” Dan volunteered.
“No, no, Dan,” Dr. Coburn interjected. “I’m afraid it’s too early for ‘walking together,’ considering what it can lead to. Wait here with me for a few minutes, while Melanie goes her way.”
“I don’t get it. What does walking together lead to?” Dan wanted to know.
“Touching, you idiot!” Melanie told him, and turned to depart.
Dan made good on his word. He came to study with Dr. Coburn promptly at the times appointed for his lessons.
From the day of his arrival onward, Melanie just didn’t seem to be herself. There was a persistent, unfamiliar unease about her demeanor. Then one day, when the bell rang at his lesson time, she could no longer repress her turmoil.
“Daddy, please, don’t let him in!” she pleaded.
“But why, child?” Dr. Coburn asked, puzzled at her sudden anxiety. “You aren’t, by some remote chance, feeling that old bugaboo attraction, are you?”
“For him? No way!”
“Then, please, just consider him another right-minded pupil of mine.”
“How can I do that – when everyone is making fun of me?”
“Fun of you? In what way, Mel?”
“Do I have to go into it?” she asked.
“I don’t know how else I can make an acute evaluation of your situation.”
With visible perturbations, she said, “They’re saying I can’t possibly be a virgin anymore.”
“How on earth could they arrive at that inconceivable conclusion?”
“Because he’s here every day, that’s why!”
“And those fools have concluded that, as a result, he has seduced you? You, my most dependable adherent? Why, their comments aren’t anymore substantial than the breath they’ve expended to express them. And the proof is easy to ascertain. Now that Dan has been studying with me, all your friends have to do is talk to him. They’ll quickly realize he couldn’t possibly be interested in having sex with you or, I dare say, with anyone else. He has made remarkable progress.”
“Sure, he has,” she sighed sarcastically. “They think he’s only here for one reason.”
“Time will soon dispel that illusion.”
“Melanie, don’t tell me you’ve come to doubt the efficacy of my tutelage?”
“I’m sorry, Daddy. But he’s got such a reputation for, for – “
“– No need to get sexplicit, dear. I understand completely. I’ll tell you what. Let me demonstrate to you how far he has come in the welcome remediation of his behavior. After I’ve finished with his lesson, you can give him some advanced training.”
“Daddy, please, I can’t.”
“Sure, you can. Believe me, I wouldn’t suggest the tactic if I wasn’t convinced he’s at the stage where he can control his previous derelictions.”
“You really think he won’t try anything?”
“If he does, I’ll boot him out permanently.”
“Unconditionally. The experience will shore up the slight wavering you may be experiencing in your faith in my method. And it will give you plenty of ammunition to dispel the illusions of your errant friends.”
“All right, Daddy. I’ll be in my room, studying.”
“Call you when I’m ready,” he told her, and gave her a one-armed hug.
Then he headed for the door.
End of Fourth Installment