“But while I'd be their daughter, while I'd eat the roast and come home from dates and wash the dishes, I would also be myself. I would love my mother, but I'd never want to be her again. I would never be what someone else wanted me to be. I would never laugh at a joke I didn't think was funny. I would never tell another lie. I would be the truth-teller, starting today. That would be tough.
But I was tougher.”
“I loved him like a fever. Then he left. He kicked through love like it was dust and he kept on walking.”
“I drove in last night,' he said. 'I couldn't sleep, it was too hot. So I went outside. I was feeling melancholy. Then I danced with a beautiful girl, and I felt better. What's your story?”
“I understood the word 'swoon'. It felt that way, like 'sweep' and 'moon' and 'woo', all those words smashed together in one word that stood for that feeling, right then.”
“I loved all the parts of him, even the ones I didn't understand.”
“Truth, justice...I always thought they were absolutes, like God. And Mom. And apple pie.
But you could make apple pie from Ritz crackers. You could make cakes without sugar. We learned how to fake things, during the war.”
Thats what it was, a hole I could never fill. It would be bottomless.”
“It had never occurred to me that I could do something without permission. 'May I' was a way of life for a girl like me.”
“I always wanted a father. Any kind. A strict one, a funny one, one who bought me pink dresses, one who wished I was a boy. One who traveled, one who never got up out of his Morris chair. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. I wanted shaving cream in the sink and whistling on the stairs. I wanted pants hung by their cuffs from a dresser drawer. I wanted change jingling in a pocket and the sound of ice cracking in a cocktail glass at five thirty. I wanted to hear my mother laugh behind a closed door.”
“I took off one of the high-heeled sandals, the white sandals my mother prized, and threw it into the pool. That's when I noticed him. He was on the other side of the pool, dressed in a white shirt and khaki pants. He had lowered the chair until it was flat, and he was lying back on it, face to the night sky, smoking a cigarette. He raised himself on his elbows and looked at the pool like he owned it. "Well?" he said. I didn't say anything... "Aren't you going to let the other shoe drop?" I took off the other one and threw it in. "My kind of women," he said.”
“Darling, I have a tip," Arlene said. "Never, ever wait for a man.”
“I breathed in and out, perfume and smoke, perfume and smoke, and we lay like that for a long time, until I heard the seagulls crying, sadder than a funeral, and I knew it was almost morning.”
“You're a watcher, aren't you?" Peter said. "I can tell. You watch and listen. But you know what I'm betting. The thing you can't see so clear is yourself." I was startled. Here I was, trying to come up with something to say about the weather, and he said something real. "What do you mean?" I asked. "You don't walk like a girl who knows how pretty she is, for one thing. That's a crying shame.”
“Could it really happen like this?" he asked. "That a girl like you can make me feel..." "Make you feel what?" "Make me feel," he said.”
“I don't have a story," I said. "I'm still waiting for one.”
“Baby, I was in a war. Of course I get it. That's where all the bad in the world comes from. Guys who like being mean. I was that guy once. We were all that guy, for at least a minute. We had to be.”
“But I do know," he continued, "how to salvage an evening for a girl in a party dress." He stood up, bowed. Held out his hand. "May I have this dance?"
“Just one dance. Just one. That’s all I wanted. I know now how you can take one step and you can’t stop yourself from taking another. I know now what it means to want. I know it can get you to a place where there’s no way out. I know now that there’s no such thing as just one. But I didn’t know it then.”
“What did I owe you, Peter? Truth and justice? If judges would judge, if lawyers wouldn’t trick, if reporters would tell what really happened instead of what sold papers. Fat”
“I assume you're a refugee from the dance inside." "I escaped the enemy, captain," I said. I could see the side of his, and his smile. "Ah," he said. "At long last, a promotion.”
“I let Wally go yesterday,” Mr. Forney said. “I just want you to know that.” “You fired him?” “Of course. Fraternizing with hotel guests is cause for dismissal.” “But—” “We have high standards for the hotel, Miss Spooner. That includes employees.” “Yeah,” I said. “I’ve seen your high standards up close, Mr. Forney. I think you like rolling in your stinky high standards. Especially when you can kick a couple of guests out of the hotel because they have the wrong last name.” He”
“May I" was a way of life for a girl like me.”
“Darling, I have a tip. Never, ever wait for a man.”
“So here I was. I would live with Joe and Mom. I had no place else to go. Joe would carve the roast on Sundays. He would put up the Christmas tree.”
“The world is full of places I haven't been.”
“On every shopping trip, there is one indulgence.”
“That's where all the bad in the world comes from. Guys who like being mean.”
“Being an adult--was this it? Doing the thing you most in your life didn't want to do, and doing it with a shrug?”
“Are you running away?"
"No, not today.”
“I control the world so long as I can name it. Which is why children must chase language before they do anything else, tame the wilderness by describing it, challenge God by learning His hundred names.”
“Shall I tell you something I've been noticing? The mistrust this society has for women. All kinds of experts and officials are terrified because so many women are working. They really think that women have to be coerced into having babies and raising kids.”
“La besó en la mejillla lo más cerca posible de la boca, deseando con pasión permanecer a su lado eternamente para preservarla de las sombras. Olía a yerbas y tenía la piel fría. Supo que amarla era su destino inexorable.”
“Yet I have discovered that if all those around you believe some particular thing, you will soon be tempted to share in that belief...”
“There was a sniffle from the crowd. At which point, Rhage’s voice hissed, “What. This is beautiful, ’kay? Fuck all y’all.”
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