Among the Daughters/Chapter 32
SOMEONE TO TALK TO
"April showers bring May flowers," said Lucy handing Figente a bunch of moist arbutus.
He was propped in bed recuperating from a kidney ailment. It was the first week in April and Lucy, preoccupied with preparations for her recital, had not visited him in weeks. He looked awful, she thought, like a melting candle. She glanced around the room. Maybe it seemed gloomy because it was so dark and thundery outside. "This room is more restful than the other two ways you've had it in the past four years but that big black cross makes it churchy," she observed.
"All Italian bedrooms and, for that matter, French and Spanish, have the Cross, as you will discover if you become a Marquesa," Figente said with asperity.
She looked at him open-lipped. "Who told you that?"
"Oh, I hear things! I hope this time you will be sensible. I rather fancy imagining you in a white mantilla receiving the bullfighter's hat in Madrid."
"You're out of your head."
"Don't tell me you've been stupid enough to refuse Nino?"
She threw back her head and laughed, thinking it was the first time she had laughed in months. "You old matchmaker! You're crazy. There's nothing like that. We're only very good friends. I am more fond of him than any man I know."
"Thank you!" he said acidly.
"You don't count," she said, patting his cheek, and looked about again. "From the looks of this room you must be reforming. I miss those worn-off mirrors you could hardly see anything in. I guess that suited you," she teased.
"Those were valuable 18th century French minors," he instructed, "but when I was a child in Rome I always adored my mother's room. The castle's new owners—it's sold—are having it done over, new wall silks woven and so on, so I had everything shipped to me. The bed, as you know, I've had. I still must have the windows done in leaded bottle bottom glass, then the room will be the same, except the rug."
"It's beautiful—but what I want to talk about is what the boys will wear when they play their harps for the recital."
"Evening clothes, naturally."
"Certainly not, it's not a variety act. The evening clothes will be of the 1900 period. My tailor will make them under my direction. They will wear gilded laurel wreaths. No diamond crowns. Paste of course. No, coronets."
"What's the difference?"
"Coronets are less ornate. It must be kept simple. Then your manager must see that the boys have small gilt ballroom chairs of the period."
"It sounds good. I only hope somebody in the audience looks at us girls."
He chuckled. "How are things going?"
"All right, I hope, I haven't had time to think. There are almost as many details as for a big production."
Figente was surprised at the necessity for Lucy's personal preoccupation. "Surely a manager attends to those things. You should not think of anything but your performance."
"Boy, you don't know the half of it! Why, we never had a theatre until yesterday. Beman wouldn't rent his because he's mad at me for not going with the show to Chicago. Theatre owners don't like to tie up a theatre for a single performance too long in advance. I tried to get us a concert manager but I found out they aren't experienced with theatre dance recitals—they know only about Carnegie or Aeolian Hall. Well, yesterday Sam Melitz, a house manager for Joe Samuels, told us the ropes and talked Joe into letting us rent the Langtry, which is where Sam is, though we didn't want such a big musical house. I've hired Eddie Smith, the press agent, but Vida is really doing most of the work. I don't know what we'd do without her, especially the next three weeks, so don't you keep her too busy."
"I had hoped you would have a small elegant theatre. You must see to it that there is a chic audience."
It was easy for Figente to lie there and make suggestions, she thought. "Listen, this show is going to be so much more expensive than I thought, anyone who buys a ticket is chic to me."
"That is not the proper attitude. You must invite people, select people, and keep it exclusive so that your performance is talked about by the right people."
"You sound like a concert manager who said recitals always have to be papered. That doesn't sound professional to me."
"Nevertheless, you must invite people who otherwise wouldn't dream of going to anything before it's a huge success. I will give Boswell a list of names and she can enclose my card along with an engraved invitation which you must have made. Tiffany will do them. They must be the size and quality of wedding invitations so they won't be thrown in wastebaskets unopened as advertisements."
She gaped in consternation. "You mean our printed announcements won't be opened? I always open everything."
"Not by the people you will wish to be present."
"I don't think Vida can take on one more thing, but I'll think it over tonight."
"Who's talking about me?" Vida panted, sitting down on a low chair, her face flushed.
"You're out of breath," Lucy scolded.
"I hurried, that's all," Vida cut her short.
"You're tired out, I'll bet Figente works you too hard."
"Oh no, he really doesn't," Vida protested uneasily.
"May I remind you both that I am here," Figente said acidly.
"I wish you would give Vida a few days off so she doesn't have to work all night on the recital," Lucy said.
"Very well," he said grudgingly, "but I hope she can manage to come in an hour or two each day."
"Stop bothering her. I'm the only one that can do that. Your old books can wait," Lucy insisted.
"It's not very pleasant lying here by myself," he whimpered.
"I have come to the conclusion he likes to have someone at his beck and call to occupy him. Of course he is ill now and alone; Denis is usually too busy running that enormous house, and Hal is practicing at his apartment these days," Vida told Lucy in the taxi driving uptown.
"Not all the time. I saw him lunching with Horta Cornwallis at the Athenée Wednesday when I was with Nino."
"Nino had dinner with Figente Wednesday night. Denis brought in a cook from the Spanish quarter under the Brooklyn Bridge. The studio reeked of frying olive oil and garlic. I think it was that dinner that knocked out Figente."
"So that's who it was," Lucy reflected, troubled. It was Nino who had spoken of her to Figente.
"So who was?"
"Nothing," she said. "I was thinking when I work hard I always lose weight, but you're gaining.
"I'm not, it's this dress that makes me look heavier," Vida replied, panicky.
"Well, for heaven's sake, don't look like that. You are so edgy these days. You need a good night's sleep. I'm not going to let you work tonight. I just told Figente that to get you away. Wait until you see the apartment, Mother is in her glory."
An apt description, Vida thought as they entered.
A sand-covered tarpaulin stretched over the rug was a beach strewn with crushed pearl bead shells and a frothed high surf of Paris green, candy pink, lemon, grey, lavender and white tarlatans and wisps of chiffon mounting to a rose-garlanded cloud of plumes and migrant arabesques of black ribbons. From the center Mae, her filmy grey hair awry, glanced up from sewing and greeted them with the little sad smile which was her expression when happy.
"I haven't seen you for three days, Vida. My, you look fine."
"I am, I am," said Vida, and clenched her teeth so as not to burst into tears and throw herself on Mae's comforting lap.
"What are you doing now, Mother?"
"I am changing the hooks on this last costume. That girl from Ilona's who came to help sewed them all on backwards."
"You shouldn't strain your eyes on things like that," scolded Lucy. "Cleo's friend who works at Brooks will help us the whole week before the show and she'll dress the girls too."
"I always think the costumes fit better when I do them myself. I like the hooks and eyes to be just right."
"Isn't she wonderful?" Lucy said later to Vida when they were alone going over the budget. "She would make a terrific costume designer I always tell her. It bothers me that she doesn't have any interest but me. That's why I'm glad she has Aunt Mabel to go to in case anything happened to me."
"For someone about to have an exciting debut as a concert artist I don't think much of your frame of mind," Vida said unsympathetically.
"I can't help it. I keep thinking something awful is going to happen."
"Nothing is going to happen. That's superstitious nonsense."
"I tell myself that—if only I could be sure I am doing the right thing."
"Who is ever sure of anything? No, I take that back. Ilona. She knows. No matter what else happens, the Laurencin ballet is sure to be a success. The way you have trained the girls—if they heard your voice in their sleep they would react like Pavlov's dogs. The 'muscular reflexes' Ilona is now talking about."
Lucy laughed. "I know I'm a Madame Legree. I'm like Mother, everything has to be just right. I'm proud of them though. I hope I'll be as good as they are. I rehearse them more than myself."
"You'll be wonderful, wait and see!"
"I hope so—but what worries me is—then what?"
The Wednesday before the Sunday night concert, tempers were so short Lucy suggested they all take a rest for that afternoon and evening.
Only four more days and then it will be over and I can do something about my condition, Vida thought when alone in her room. Then I'll ask Lucy because none of those things I've tried seem to work and it is beginning to show though I still can't believe it is happening to me. When I awake in the morning I always think it a dream and then I remember it is true. I dread telling her. It would be easier to find out about those homes for unwed mothers. They would help me. If they can't, if Lucy can't, I don't know what I will do.
She peered out at the vertiginous depths from her window and, dizzied, seemed to see the lapping soft black water of the East River.
Stupid Vida who was going to find out about love the way Lucy did, she thought bitterly. There must be something the matter with me that I can't accept it as so many girls do these days, as a natural pleasure. Perhaps I have no sense of humor. No sense. Period.
The thought of release in five days to do something concrete about her pregnancy somewhat eased her fears. Still unable to sleep however or read she decided that, before forgetting the details, she might as well add the latest notes on the rehearsals in Ilona's studio in the journal she had kept sporadically since living alone.
April 18, 1925.
The dancers and their cohorts at Ilona's studio seem to me a kind of religious sect all their own. The demi-mondes of the arts, living happily in their half world on the droppings of what they hear and see.
Ranna has a pupil named Demora. She has been a Ziegfeld showgirl. Very beautiful. Tall, with straight black hair that hangs to her knees. Like Lois, she's also after Ranna. Her latest rich lover, middle-aged, calls for her at rehearsals. She runs up and puts her arms around him and says passionately, "Loverboy, I missed you so" and lover-boy preens idiotically, while all the girls giggle. Ranna is fascinated with her hair. "I will cut it off," he told Lucy and me and improvised uses for it. He would have it woven into a jacket for a costume, or tassels for a girdle, or a filet lace cover for his bed.
"That would be too scratchy," Lucy said.
"But it could be strong as a cage—I would ensnare you like a bird and laugh when you flapped your wings to escape," he said in his most syrupy tone.
"Not me, but Demora would love it, especially as it's her hair," Lucy said, too casually I thought.
One day I went to Ranna's about noon with some music and found languid Lois, her usually neat hair rumpled as though she had just awakened. She was making Ranna's breakfast with her impractical long-nailed boneless white fingers. I knew it was no victory for Lois and Ranna's revenge because Lucy had been neglecting him, except for work. Lois has not shown up this past week so Ranna has had to rearrange his Persian garden number. One of the girls says Lois has gone off with some lieutenant.
Round and round a woman in search of love goes and where it ends nobody knows. Perhaps a Fabre could figure it out.
One of Lucy's girls, the best dancer, used to be with a well-known ballet company but gave it up because the men who came back after the show came only for the boys. The girls never had dates but sat around in their hotel rooms, which they shared four in one, playing bridge.
Another of Ranna's pupils until recently was Cinaia Goodspeed, whose mother always came to class because she did not want her daughter to grow away from her. Until she joined Ranna, Cinaia studied Duncan dancing. Unusually tall, her movement ludicrously languid in its portentous solemnity, she was extremely didactic in her pronouncements concerning dance and love. Dance, like love, she said, to be pure must be chaste. She had come to Ranna for help in creating—everybody "creates" at Ranna's—a dance to Sibelius' "Valse Triste." It was difficult not to laugh when Cinaia and Ranna, his arm always slipping lower than her waist because of her tallness, skipped around the floor. Intensely serious, she would wave her arms dreamily, lifting her long legs in slow alternation, achieving the appearance of a giraffe in a slow-motion movie. Then, quite suddenly, she and her mother became cool about Ranna because one of Ilona's girls convinced them that Lucy was not only his dancing partner. Mrs. Goodspeed told Irwin that Ranna could not be a serious artist to be engaged in an impure relationship with a common Broadway dancer. Cinaia never returned.
All the patter about art ends, one way or another, in a discussion of love. Even Ilona, with her fetish-version of abstraction and purity, watches Ranna and Lucy hot-eyed, complaining that Lucy is corrupting him as an artist. Once, as they practiced, Ilona, her mouth pinched, said to me equivocally, "I never could marry a Hindu, could you?"
I don't know which hunger is worse, no love at all strained into self-love, or disappointment in the act of love, which probably is one's own fault or insufficiency.
There was another crisis when Demora had her first costume tryout. She wore abbreviated gold trunks with gold medallions for a brassière, and that long, long black hair. She looked beautiful. Irwin, and some of the boys who think girls should be boys, wavered, I thought. Ilona objected violently saying Demora was being vulgar and exploiting her body. The latter objection bewildered Demora. It was up to Ranna, to whose group the Amazon belongs, to mollify our priestess. Of course, Ilona doesn't know yet that Demora's only addition to the gold trunks will be a string of beads.
Ranna will wear his native costume and is using his Hindu silks and saris for his ballet. Lucy will wear a silver sari for their duet.
The Laurencin ballet costumes are wisps of chiffon accented where necessary for line with crisp tarlatan, giving a flowery unity to the movements of Lucy's girls. Their makeup is a cream foundation, exaggerated black eyes and round rose lips, each face fixed as a planet in a heavenly headdress of unnatural pinks, greens, and mauves festooned with pearls and plumed with beckoning ostrich feathers. Each figure has a gauze scarf, a black-ribbon neck bow, or a streamer, to be woven together in related arabesques of movement.
Lucy will wear forget-me-not blue, lemon-yellow and orchid tarlatan, very short, and a flesh tulle scarf, her wheat-hued hair fastened with a nosegay at the top of her head, and a narrow black ribbon round her throat.
April 19, 1925.
I keep noticing the characteristic dual pattern of feminine behavior, similar to Lucy's and, to a more limited extent, my own. Especially the artificial roles expected of women by men but which bewilder women, even when they feel pleasure in lovemaking. I mean the masculine symbols of language, fetishes, etc. These are illustrated in the erotic drawings men make for other men which Figente has a collection of—as though there were an insufficiency in women as women per se. (I must try to avoid using "per se"—Vermillion dislikes that phrase.) Those drawings certainly aren't made to excite women. What I am trying to say is that women behave as men want them to in those drawings, but the things they are asked to do and say means nothing to them as lovemaking. Lucy always tells the truth about such things, and I know it was true for me. Demora, Corinne, and Janine, in their various remarks, confirm that experience, and Tessie couldn't possibly be franker about it.
Perhaps women can be prostitutes because of their adjustability to anything as long as men will love them. I am guessing at this, but though men too make love to women they care nothing about, they have to feel some sexual necessity.
Is one reason why men novelists and dramatists are fascinated by prostitutes that the latter can simulate necessity at any time?
And then this aspect of it—a Nana or Sadie Thompson or Anna Christie, who becomes the hero's redeemed personal property, after being "possessed" by so many men, his act of love "purifying" the prostitute. Apparently a man doesn't have to be purified no matter how active he has been. Or is it that he is purified by being so active!—But why this fascination in the highest to lowest forms of expression—literature to burlesque houses—with woman depicted primarily as a prostitute? In writing of Lucy, one would have to consider this.
"Let it ring. I don't want to hear any more trouble tonight," Lucy said to Mae of the telephone but, as the ringing persisted, said, "Maybe I'd better answer."
"Something wrong?" Mae asked, seeing her frown as she returned from the bedroom.
"It was a woman I don't like—Mrs. Cornwallis. She's giving a goodbye surprise party for Nino three weeks from Saturday. I suppose I'll have to go."
"That will be nice. Isn't she that society woman who gave that ball there were pictures of in the rotogravure section?"
"Yes. She isn't society."
"She must be to have all those important people come and to have friends in royalty like the Marqués."
"Nobility—not royalty," Lucy corrected affectionately, thinking how anxious Mother was for her to be friends with those she thought of as the "best people," probably because the years of poverty had not been the fun to Mother they had seemed to her as a child and even now. Maybe those days of scraps of food and cockroachy rooms were a bogeyman that made Mother cling to the belief that people with society names were magicians who would protect her Pussy. Funny what a child Mother is, believing rich people would be their security! If Nino did propose could she disappoint Mother again? After what Figente had said she was afraid to see Nino, at least until after the concert which was enough now to have on her mind. That old witch, Horta, was smart, knowing she couldn't say no because of Nino. Tired as she was it was impossible to rest. The two lines of Debussy that gave the girls trouble because what Hal called counterpoint was hard for them repeated itself maddeningly in her head. What was worse was that suddenly this morning the ballet seemed to have lost its point and to have become a series of uninteresting exercises leading nowhere. It did not even have the spectacular fouetté finish of a Broadway number to insure applause. If only there was someone to talk to about it. Not Ranna. If she went there his answer would be an "Invitation to the Dance" of love. Queer, Ranna was like Mother in one way, thinking rich people, especially nutty women, were the only financial security. Nino would be right to talk to, but what Figente had intimated was an obstacle. It was strange that knowing so many people there wasn't someone, like Vermillion, to phone and say, "I want to talk to you—meet me at Childs' at 59th and Fifth."
Mae yawned. "I'm going to take a nice warm bath and go to bed."
"You do that," Lucy encouraged. While Mother was in the tub she would take a chance and phone Vermillion.
Perhaps she ought to think up a reason—she hesitated at the telephone and became cross at him for being difficult. All he can say is no so here goes. She gave the operator his number, her heart pounding as though she were doing something dangerous. There was no answer, but operators often rang wrong numbers so she tried again. No answer. She was provoked at his characteristic lack of consideration in not being home—or not answering! She might as well go to Figente's, maybe he'd cheer her up. When she arrived Vermillion was there too.
"Have some brandy—Paul has been telling me Vedder bought five of his paintings."
"With ice and water."
"Not this rare brandy—you'd better have some champagne."
"I'd rather have champagne—I need it. I'll drink to you—you must be rich," she said to Vermillion.
The two men smiled.
"He is as improvident as you are. He should have let me talk to Vedder—or asked my advice," Figente reproved.
"Don't ask his advice," she cautioned Vermillion. "I'd hate to tell you the bill I got from Tiffany's for the engraved invitations he advised me I must send."
"To a long list of people he said had to be invited to the concert."
"You see how impractical she is," Figente pouted in response to Vermillion's look of inquiry. "She doesn't understand that you have to spend money to make some."
"If you have it to spend," Vermillion said.
Figente dismissed this as caviling. "One can always borrow. International finance is largely a matter of credit."
Lucy rejected this observation with a positive shake of her head. "Not me! I like to know exactly where I'm at. I like to pay as I go. I hate being in debt to anybody for anything."
Vermillion laughed appreciatively at this declaration which could have come from himself.
"That's an extremely literal point of view," Figente deprecated. "You'll never get anywhere on that practice."
"How do you know where I want to go?" she demanded.
"I only know what I hope you will attain," he said, nettled.
"I know where I'm going," Vermillion said rising.
"Are you leaving already?" Lucy asked dismayed. "Wait for me, I can't stay long."
"He was about to leave when you came. You stay and keep me company."
"I only stopped in to see how you were," she said. "You look tired. You ought to go to bed."
"You might at least stay long enough to finish that excellent champagne," he said.
"I was going to walk anyway," Vermillion contributed. Figente looked put out at being left alone.
"That's fine, I love to walk," Lucy said, deliberately misinterpreting, and drank quickly another glass. "There now, I've had three and I enjoyed them. Now you get a good rest, I don't want you sick for the recital. You are going to be proud of Hal and the boys, they're wonderful at rehearsals."
"I'm relieved to hear it," Figente said brightening, "and do they always come, and on time? I don't know what's going on since they stopped rehearsing here, but I couldn't have them while I am ill."
"Don't you worry about a thing, they haven't missed one rehearsal."
A tender fog caressed their faces as they set off up misty Fifth Avenue, she in double time to his light straight pace. Ten o'clock motors passed scantily, tires in sibilant moist communication with the glistening black asphalt.
I hardly know him and he didn't invite me, she thought, but it's as though we've been walking since that time in Central Park. She longed to take his arm and slow him down but didn't dare.
"I love New York best when it's like this. It's soothing and exciting at the same time." You had to begin somewhere.
"It is," he agreed, thinking the mist not unlike that of Paris. She would enjoy Paris, be appropriate to its soft nights.
"I'm going to get me walking shoes in case I walk with you again," she hinted.
"I'm sorry," he said, slowing down.
"That's all right," she assured in case he was annoyed. "I hope you don't mind my coming along but I couldn't stay with Figente the mood I was in. He always cheered me up but he has changed. Or I have."
It struck him her voice was melancholy and without its lightsome ring, related somehow to the change he had noticed at Figente's; a nebulous transformation from girl to woman, as subtle as an almost finished painting awaiting the stroke of completion. A flowering bud.
"Yes, Figente does seem low. Perhaps it's the illness."
"I don't think that's all of it. I think he's worried sick about Hal. He has lavished so much on that boy. He wants him to be a success at the concert but if he is, he's afraid Hal will leave him. Those boys are fickle."
"Oh, fickleness isn't limited to one group," he said, ill at ease at her reference to homosexuality; though why, he couldn't imagine, physical vagaries being no mystery to her, he thought, remembering Simone's remark concerning her. It was only the night mist gleaming on her face that veiled it with innocence.
"Figente is really an old softy," she said laughing.
"Remy de Gourmont said that behind almost even' egotistic high-living old bachelor hides a weeping sentimentalist," he said.
She regretted having put off reading the French author Vida had spoken about so she could say something besides "He doesn't have to worry about the boys' part in the recital. Hal has trained the quartet just fine. They are wonderful to rehearse with and the only ones who don't lose their tempers, including me."
The vision of her in a Simone tantrum made him smile. "I can't imagine you in a tantrum."
"You don't know me when I'm mad. You should have seen me this afternoon. I stamped my foot and clapped my hands till it hurt and said, 'That's enough now from everybody! I don't want to hear one more grumble. Anybody who doesn't like what she has to do or wear can quit right now!' Then I told Ranna and Ilona I expected them to have what they want for lights figured out tomorrow. Everybody sure was meek. I said 'Now you all go home and get a good night's rest and be here at ten sharp tomorrow morning and that means everybody.' Ranna has two girls who are never on time."
"You may laugh," she said indignantly, "but it isn't funny. It's no joke putting on a show. I wish I had never gone into it."
He heard the disquiet in her voice. "Things really are not going well?"
"I just can't tell. There's no one I can ask, or talk to, whose opinion I respect except Vida, and she is too busy with recital details and then the time she has to spend on Figente's library. If the recital isn't a success I haven't anything to look forward to on Broadway because Beman is angry at me for not going to Chicago with the show."
"Isn't that an exaggeration? There are other producers."
"There is Joe Samuels, providing he hasn't cast already for the summer and autumn and even then I don't want to keep doing these same kind of specialties. Ballet dancers are a dime a dozen and you have to do something else, sing and act, or have some unusual style of your own."
"That's true for anyone who works in the arts."
"I hadn't thought of that. The truth is I am hoping the Laurencin ballet will prove to Beman that I can do something different than those revue routines—and I don't even know whether he'll come to the recital—and even if he does—" her voice trailed moodily.
"Figente could be asked to bring him. If you don't wish to ask him, I will."
"He may not want to because of Hal. That isn't all of it. I wouldn't even care so much about whether Beman came or didn't if I could be sure what I am doing is worth it."
"You can't ever be sure until you do it."
"What if I fail?"
"If you do you will learn something about why, and the next time will be better," he said gently.
He was telling her, and the prospect was dismal, that she would be going on and on in a life in which he had no part. Not that she was happy when she was with him, except for a few wild seconds when he seemed to lift her up and she didn't stop to think. Mostly, like now, he made her feel like weeping for no reason. Up and down was how she felt with him so it was just as well she wasn't in love with him.
First the worst,
Second the same,
Last the best
Of all the game.
But, from the way he spoke, the last never came. At least, though, he made you feel that if something you tried didn't come off it wouldn't make any difference to him, that no matter how often you tried and failed he would stand by you. Maybe that's why Simone is so crazy about him.
They walked silently.
With a sigh she said, "When I saw Simone at the Chennonceaux I thought how easy it looked. I thought all I need are some ideas and I will be an artist too."
"It isn't that easy for anyone. I ought to know. One has a lot of ideas, but realizing them is another matter. As for Simone, what looks easy now is the result of years of trying and learning. She has many years' start on you." Suddenly irritated with himself for unthinkingly speaking of Simone's age, or of Simone at all to this girl, he added impatiently, "It's futile to worry about whether you are an artist or not. All you can do is your best and hope that with luck something will come of it. Otherwise you are beaten before you begin."
"That makes me feel better," she said, "but I don't know why. You see up to now whenever I ask, everyone says there isn't anything to worry about, that everything will be fine. But I know maybe it won't be. If what you say is true I don't care what happens so long as I can feel it isn't hopeless, a waste of time. But I wish," she said wistfully, "you would come to one of the dress rehearsals and tell me whether you think I am on the right track."
"No," he said positively. "Just as I wouldn't let anyone advise me about an unfinished painting."
Seeing her disappointment, he thought he must have sounded unconcerned, and tried to explain. "If I came, I could not help because even if I could suggest anything, your ballet would become to that extent my idea of how it should be instead of yours. That would spoil it for you. Now it is what you have seen in the idea, and what will come through is what you are." His voice warmed and lightened. "I don't believe you need worry if that comes across."
This, she thought, feeling a wild happiness, is what I need. Someone to talk to who thinks I can do something.
"Take my hand," she said, grasping his. "Crossing Madison Square is tricky for high heels."
A lone figure on a park bench awakened and fumbled for his slipping newspaper blanket, mumbling an oath at the inconsiderate young.
If only, Lucy thought, I could walk and walk like this, hand in hand, and wouldn't have to think of a recital. I wouldn't have to talk because his hand knows everything. If I stand close I can put my head against his shoulder because he is exactly the right height. If I would put my arms around him he wouldn't take it for granted I expected him to make love to me. I would do it because he is like a tree that wants nothing from you yet gives you what is true to itself and yourself.
"I know you don't like dance recitals," she said, "but I hope you will come and see what happened to your idea for a ballet."
"Whose idea?" he chided. "I already have a ticket."
"And now I think you have walked enough and we better get you home. Here's a cab," he said, relieved that this time there need be no retreat for lack of a few pennies.
"Let's take a bus, on top, just for fun," Lucy said because she wasn't going to let him throw away money on her.