I don't think there is a simpler way (well, unless you consider using select simpler than threads). I wrote such a beast and it works quite nicely for me. There is also one in the Perl Cookbook (if you have a copy or know where to download the code samples -- which I don't, sorry).
Update: I think this is called a "port mapper" in the Cookbook.
(but my friends call me "Tye")
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