Mulling the various possibilities for his future, Ford went to Providence one day recently to meet his sister-in-law, Joan. She was coming from California to assist him in preparing for his big July conference, to help tidy up Beechwood and give the place a feminine look for the many lady students who would be attending. When Joan got off the train and Ford first spotted her, he was nearly, as he acts it out, struck dumb. Why, he could hardly believe it—she looked so young! What had she done to herself?
Well now, Joan explained, she had learned about some amazing new facial exercises, a wonderful treatment that removed middle-age flab and that took years off her age! And suddenly, there in the ancient Providence railroad terminal, light bulbs lit and eurekas flashed about the bushy head of Norman Ford. The next day all of the books on facial exercises were gone from the Newport library. Ford learned how to do this one thing in the privacy of your own home where you use the muscles at the bottom of the eye without using the ones at the top. That gets rid of those unsightly bags under the eyes!
"I should be able to get 20 books out of this without any difficulty," Ford said, working his left eye. He said he might have to look into buying the grandest mansion of them all in Newport, The Breakers, the old Vanderbilt place, and turn it into a charm school. "How do you think they would like that?" he asked, the con and the sincerity and the ambition and the irreverence all getting mixed up on his face, the way they do now. He rubbed his hand through his great mane of hair—he was losing it 25 years ago before he learned how to do something about it—plopped on his grubby hat with the long green plastic visor and strutted off in the ragged blue-jean shorts through some of the 63 rooms in the Astor mansion, which is now the headquarters of the Force Method and "the home of Norman Robert Ford, the novelist."