If I could only bring myself to disapprove of these essential products my self-respect would be saved. But, on the
contrary, I look with envy at self-possessed women flipping cigarette ash here, there and everywhere and I creep miserably round the room at cocktail parties, finding a place to hide my untasted glass.
Perseverance has not availed. For six months I religiously smoked a cigarette after lunch and after dinner, choking a little, biting fragments of tobacco, and blinking as the ascending smoke pricked my eyelids. Soon, I told myself, I should learn to like smoking. I did not learn to like it, and my performance was criticized severely as being inartistic and painful to watch. I accepted defeat.
When I married Max we enjoyed the pleasures of the table in perfect harmony, eating wisely but much too well.
He was distressed to find that my appreciation of good drink - or indeed of any drink - was nil. He set to work to educate me, trying me perseveringly with clarets, burgundies, sauternes, graves and, more desperately, with tokay, vodka and absinthe! In the end he acknowledged defeat. My only reaction was that some tasted worse than others! With a weary sigh, Max contemplated a life in which he should be forever condemned to the battle of obtaining water for me in a restaurant! It has added, he says, years to his age.
The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —
Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —
I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —
I find myself somewhat damped. An uneasy conviction sweeps over me that our young architect is going to prove one of those people who from time to time succeed in rendering me completely imbecile with shyness. I have, thank goodness, long left behind me the days when I was shy of everyone. I have attained, with middle age, a fair amount of poise and savoir faire. Every now and then I congratulate myself that all that silly business is over and done with! “I’ve got over it,” I say to myself happily. And as surely as I think so, some unexpected individual reduces me once more to nervous idiocy.
Useless to tell myself that young Mac is probably extremely shy himself and that it is his own shyness which produces his defensive armour - the fact remains that, before his coldly superior manner, his gently raised eyebrows, his air of polite attention to words that I realize cannot possibly be worth listening to, I wilt visibly and find myself talking what I fully realize is sheer nonsense.