Have you noticed what it’s like when a woman is on your mind from home?
If a man leaves, he says: “Well, I’m leaving now; I won’t stay there long.”
“Oh, George!” – his wife shouts after him from the other end of the apartment; wait; please don’t go yet; just for a moment! I just want to say… You hear the door slam over there; as hats fly off the rack.
“Oh my God, George, you’re not gone yet!” he screamed. But only the hollow voice of despair. It’s true, it’s a fact; he knows he’s really gone. He reaches the hall panting.
“Surely he could have waited a minute; he crouches inwardly as he collects the hats. I wanted to say so many things.
He doesn’t open the door to call after her, does he -104-he knows he’s already half out on the street. – A common, vile way of leaving; similar to men, he thinks.
However, if a woman leaves home, people know about it. He doesn’t sneak away. He tells me he’s on his mind. In general, he tells you in the afternoon of the day before; repeats with smaller interruptions until snack time. At tea, he suddenly decides that he won’t; to leave it for the day after tomorrow. An hour later, he thinks that tomorrow will be better; she makes preparations to wash her hair in the evening for this reason. Well, for about an hour, he has alternating bouts of ecstasy, during which bouts he believes that he will indeed go; then a state of resignation follows, when he is possessed by bad premonitions. At lunch, he persuades some other woman to join him; the other woman, once persuaded, is delighted with the idea. Only then does he remember that it is true; can not go. The first woman soon convinces him that he can come anyway.
“That’s right; – answers the other; – but then what will we do with you, honey? You forgot about the Joneses.
– Away; really off; – says the first one, completely unperturbed. How awful; and I can’t go on Wednesday. Then I’ll leave it until Thursday.
“But I can’t go on Thursday either; says the other.
– Good; then you’re going without me, my dear, – he answers in the first voice, like someone who is about to sacrifice a lifetime’s ambition.
“Oh, no, my dear; I don’t even think about it; says the other with a noble soul. “We’d rather wait and then go together on Friday.”
– You know what; says the first. – We’ll get up in good time, (just inspiration) and get back in good time, before the Joneses are here.
They decide to sleep together; some hidden suspicion vibrates in their eyes that this will be the last sleep in their lives. They retire early; they carry a jug of hot water with them. At longer intervals at night, you can hear the gurgling of the water and their conversation.
They come down late for breakfast; both are grumpy. Business -105-it appears as if both had come to the conviction that they had been forced into this mad thing against their own better judgment; it’s all the persistent folly of the other. During breakfast, everyone asks the other at five-minute intervals whether it is completely ready. It seems that none of them will have anything else to do but put on their hats. They talk about time; I wonder what it could be like. They believe it would be good if it were decided; will it rain or will the sun shine? They are angry at time for not being able to decide. The sky is still cloudy after breakfast. They decide to drop the itinerary altogether. Then the first one remembers that he has to go under all circumstances.
“But you don’t have to come, my dear; – says.
Up until this point, the second woman obviously didn’t know if she actually wanted to go or not. But now you know.
“But I’m coming; – says; – at least I was responsible for it.
“But it really isn’t necessary that he should; – argues the first, – then I’ll be home sooner too. I’m leaving now.
The other is short.
“I’ll be ready first; he answers. “You know, my dear, that I usually wait for you.”
“But you don’t even have shoes on; reminds the first.
“Well, that doesn’t take time; he believes. “But really, darling, if you don’t want me to come, just say so.” “She’s almost in tears.”
“But of course I’d like you to come,” the other explains in a dismissive tone. “I thought you only wanted to come to do me a favor; so that I don’t go alone.
“Oh, no; I want to go myself.
“Well, let’s hurry then; – drink the first; – I’ll be ready in a minute. I just need to wear another skirt.
Half an hour later, you hear them calling to each other from different corners of the house; I want to know if the other one is ready. It comes out-106-that they were both done long ago; they were just waiting for the other one.
“I’m afraid,” says the one who reached the bottom of the stairs, “that it will rain.”
“Come on, don’t say it; the other’s voice is heard.
– Sure; it is very rainy.
“What a revenge; – answers the above; – shall we leave it for tomorrow?
“What do you think, dear?” – the one below.
They decide to go anyway, just to change shoes; you just have to wear another hat.
In the next ten minutes, they are still running here and there, shouting. Then it seems that they are really done; all you have to do is say goodbye, and then “we can go.”
They start kissing the children. A woman never leaves the house without a secret fear that she will never return alive. Neither child is anywhere to be found. When he is found, he wishes he hadn’t been found. You have to wash it before you can kiss it. Then you have to find the dog so you can kiss it too; finally the cook is waiting for the last order.
Then they open the gate below.
“Oh, George!” – the first woman turns back. “Are you awake?”
“Hello!” – a voice from somewhere above; – you need me?
– No darling; I just wanted to fuck. Good bye. Counties.
– God bless you.
“God bless you, dear.” Don’t you think it’s going to rain?
– The no; I do not think so.
“Don’t you have money?”
Five minutes later they come running back; one left his parasol at home, the other his wallet.
Speaking of wallets, another difference is discovered between male and female human animals. A man carries his money in his pocket. If you want to use it, you pick it up and put it down. This is the ordinary order of things; more for a woman-107-you need subtlety. He stands there on the street; wants to buy violets for fourpence; the flower girl is waiting. He has two packages in one hand and a parasol in the other. He holds the violet with the two remaining fingers of his left hand. The question arises: how to pay the girl? He thinks for a while; it is evident that he cannot pay. He then realizes that he only has two hands, and they are both full. At first he thinks that he will transfer the packages and the violet to his right hand; then to put the parasol to the left. Then he looks around for a table, or at least a chair. There is nothing like that in the whole street. The question is solved by dropping the packages and the flower. She picks it up; holds; Castle. This frees up his right hand to reach for the purse; waving the open umbrella with his left. Some old gentleman sweeps his hat down the drain; he almost knocks out the flower girl’s eye before he remembers to close that shade. When he closed it, he propped it up against the florist’s light stand; now he is seriously researching with both hands. He turns himself forward from behind, bends the upper part of his body around so that his hair is forward and his eyes are behind. With his left hand, he is still holding himself tightly – if he were to let go of his person, God knows where he would take him – he is searching with his right. I think I have the purse; feels; the problem is: how to get it. Of course, the quickest way would be to take off her skirt, sit down and turn her insides out; and he would slide it up from the corner of the pocket. However, this simple thought does not seem to be enough. There are about thirty folds on the back of the dress; the secret opening stretches between two wrinkles. He finally discovers it by chance; almost falls while working; but brings the purse up to the sunlight. Even opening it is a hassle. You know it opens with a push button, but you’ve never seen what; he did not learn to deal with it; never will. Press properly until it opens. It’s always ready in five minutes, if you don’t rush it.
It’s finally opening up. It opens because it is already sick of being pressed, and by accident or on purpose it is down at the moment when it opens. If you’re close enough to look over his shoulder, you can see-108-that gold and silver lay stacked in it. In the inner sanctum, which is guarded by another springy button, the copper coin is kept together with a stamp and a payment note. The label is valid for nine months; eleven pence is about three farthings.
I remember the indignation of an old omnibus guide. There were nine women and two men in the car. I sat by the door; therefore, he addressed his comments to me. It took him some time to get the money together, but I think he’ll do better if he grumbles less; confused and annoyed the passengers.
– Look at this here; – he says and draws my attention to a lady sitting opposite. He fumbled for his purse as usual. They sit on their money; that’s how women are. Where ni; to fish for him.
Finally, the lady pulls out an extremely fat purse from under her.
– Well, now imagine that you are sitting in an anxious, shaking omnibus like this; – He continues. “What a strong rear end they must have.” It started to become confidential: “I saw a woman,” he says, “first she took out a big, heavy door key, a small box of sardines, a huge purse, a bunch of hairpins, a bottle of perfume from under her.” I’d go crazy if I just sat on a little door key, these women run around all day. I guess they are used to it. Then put them on a feather pillow; they must be screaming. Till we get a twopence out of them; my heart breaks. First they try on one side; then they try on the other one. Then they stand up; they shake themselves until the car pushes them back; they stand there; disconsolate pile of clothes. If it were up to me, I would have a female research guide in the car; he would soon search them and take the money. What is the poor pickpocket looking for in these? I’m just saying that when a poor man finds a woman’s pocket these days – at least he deserves what he finds there.
I was thinking about things of a more serious nature when I reflected on the carelessness of women. My theory is – it may be false; I have also heard such an opinion – that we travel the short journey of our lives with too many worries. We keep looking at the ground. Maybe-109-we avoid a derailment or two, we see the stone once or twice that we would have tripped over – but we miss the blue of the sky; the glorious green of the hillside. I have always been annoyed by the many books written by good people, where they say that the “success” of life lies in throwing away our youth, wasting our manhood just so that we can talk about a “cheerful old age” when we are 80 years old. We build our whole lives on that certain “castle in the air”; we do not notice that while we are building and planning, we have become ordinary, needy, and hard. Let’s leave the rose harvest for tomorrow; today is labor day; business, chase. My God; it became tomorrow; but the roses withered. We don’t even care about roses anymore; cheap market goods; rather, we look towards kale before that certain tomorrow dawns on us.
Life is to be lived, not spent; you have to confront it, not fix it. Life is not a chess game; not the victory of the one who knows the most; card game; a skilled hand can win more. Perhaps the wisest, who always had the most success? I wouldn’t believe it. The luckiest whist player I ever met was never sure what the trump was; his most frequent statement during the game was: “Ejnye; I apologize”; a comment to which the partner could only reply: “Don’t ask. All well that ends well.”
And one man who became very rich before my eyes was a builder in the suburbs of Birmingham; he could not write his name; during the thirty years of his life, he never went to bed sober once. I am not saying that whist players should try to forget trumps. My master builder might have been able to achieve even more successful success if he had been able to write his name; if occasionally, – not too often – he allows himself a sober evening. What I want to express here is that virtue is not the way to success – as we interpret it. We must find other reasons to want to remain virtuous; maybe there are some. The truth is that life is simple play, pure work; the rules that we lay down to achieve success are such as foolproof, outright winning methods, every year a certain breed of fools arm themselves and go to Monte-Carlo to try their luck. We can play it-110-playing the game with coolness and sharp judgement; we can decide when it’s time to head jump and when to take a slow step; but to make wisdom the standard is to imagine that we have discovered the laws of chance. Play the game of life like a true sportsman; we pocket our victories with a smile; we shrug off our losses. That’s why we participated in the game at the green table; perhaps we tried our luck at cards in order to learn some of the virtues of a good player; self-discipline; bearing loss with courage; modesty when the wheel of fortune turns towards us; strength, skill; great indifference to fate. All good lessons. If we learn one or the other, our time at the green table was not in vain. But if we get up from the table, that we only take revenge; if we set ourselves alone, then I’m afraid it was in vain.
After all, the grumpy Porter speaks at the door: “Five hundred trillion Twenty-eight; the car is waiting, sir.”
Wow! Is it about time? We collect the play money quickly. But why do you need it? Inside the city, on the other side of the river, it has no value. The blood-red color of gold, the light green of love – where do we cut it? Ehun is some poor beggar; want to play; let’s give it to him; as we exit. Poor devil! The game will entertain you – for a while.
Keep the powder dry, then trust in Providence; that is the password of the sage. Wet gunpowder is of no use anywhere in the world. They may dry; with the help of Providence. Call it Providence; a prettier name than chance; maybe even truer.
Another mistake we make when we want to rationalize our lives is this: we rationalize as if rational creatures were given as the basis for arithmetic. Big mistake. Well-meaning ladies and gentlemen often fall into this when they set up their ideal world. If the institution of marriage is repaired, the social problem will be solved, if poverty and war will be eliminated with one will – if crime, sadness and misery are voted down by a large parliamentary majority! SHE; then this will be a worthwhile world here! But you don’t have to wait that long, ladies and gentlemen. There is no need-111- for social revolution; for the slow education of the people. All of this would happen tomorrow, if only we were intelligent beings.
Imagine a world of sentient beings! No one in the world would then need the Ten Commandments; because a rational being does not commit a crime, a rational creature does not make a mistake. He would not be a rich man; for what sensible man cares for splendor; appearance? He wouldn’t be poor; because for me to eat twice as much while my brother is starving across the street, who is just as human as I am – that is not reasonable. The opinion would not differ on one point: there can only be one reasonable reason. You, my dear reader, would find that you agree with me on all sorts of subjects. They wouldn’t write novels; they would not play a play; there are no dramas in the lives of intelligent creatures. There would be no mad loves, no mad laughter, no painful tears; fiery debates, short-lived joys – sorrows, wild dreams – only reason, reason, cleverness everywhere.
For now, however, we remain meaningless beings. If I eat this mayonnaise; I’ll drink that champagne, my kidneys will regret it. Then why should I eat it? Julia is a charming girl; lovable, smart, witty: he also has a lot of brewery shares. Why does John marry Ann? That girl is quarrelsome, hot-tempered, that’s the least bad thing you can say about her. The son also feels that she will never be as good a housewife as the other; has special whims; he has no assets. But there is something about Ann’s chin and neck that charms her. He couldn’t explain what. In general, Julia is the prettier of the two. But the more he thinks about Julia, the more he is attracted to Ann. So Tom marries Julia; there is the brewery share. Julia dies on some holiday trip; he will be a helpless cripple for the rest of his life;
I heard of a young man who chose his wife with extraordinary care. Aszongya says – wisely – to himself: “One can never be too careful when choosing a wife.” He makes sure that how many meet all the requirements that a person can expect from a life partner. She has all the virtues we desire in a woman; she has no faults, unless they are such as are indispensable in a woman.-112-In practical language: perfection itself. He takes it; it turns out that it really has everything you thought about it. He could make only one objection against her: – that he did not like her. And it really wasn’t her fault.
How easy life would be if we knew ourselves. If only we could be sure that tomorrow we would think the same as we do today. We will fall in love on a nice summer trip; the girl is so fresh, charming, fresh; the blood goes to our heads unless we think about it. An ideal career would be just that: lying there forever at his feet. It seems impossible that Fate could give us greater happiness than the honor of being able to clean his shoes and kiss the hem of his dress. If the hem is a little dirty; the more we are happy about it all. We also present our ambition in this; when we said it, every word is still true. But the summer trips are gone; the summer mood passes, we find ourselves there in winter, we are scratching our heads over it; to get out of the trap. Or worse: the mood lasts longer than usual. According to the form, we ask for your hand. We get married – how many marriages are the result of a passion that has already burned out when we go to the altar with it? – Three months later, the little girl with a broken heart admits to herself that we find cleaning shoes bitterly boring. We feel as if his legs have grown. There is no excuse for ourselves, except that we were foolish children; we don’t even know why we cry; we injure each other while playing; or we sob loudly when we injure ourselves. There is no excuse for ourselves, except that we were foolish children; we don’t even know why we cry; we injure each other while playing; or we sob loudly when we injure ourselves. There is no excuse for ourselves, except that we were foolish children; we don’t even know why we cry; we injure each other while playing; or we sob loudly when we injure ourselves.
I once knew an American lady. She bored me with long stories, recounting all the brutality she suffered from her husband. He also filed for divorce against her. The day of trial has arrived; the woman won across the board. We all congratulated him; then he disappeared from my life for a few months. But then one day we found ourselves together again. One of the big problems of social life is what to say to each other when we meet; the desire of every woman and man at this time is to show himself sympathetic and intelligent; this then makes conversation difficult, because – if we take each other for granted, we are neither sympathetic nor smart. Just casually-113-I’ll make a note. Of course, I start talking to him about his ex-husband. I ask him how his turn is going. He replies, he thinks he’s feeling pretty good.
“Remarried?” – I inquire.
– Again; he answers.
“He must; I answer. “And his wife too.” – This American friend of mine was a pretty, bright-eyed little woman; I wanted to put myself in his good graces. “A woman who marries such a man, knowing what she ought to know, will most certainly make him a miserable man; and we can be sure that the man also becomes a curse to the woman.”
My girlfriend seemed to want to protect me:
“I think he’s much improved; he believes.
“Nonsense!” – I answer; – a man never gets better. Once a villain, forever.
– Shhh; – he asks; – don’t say that about him.
“Why not?” I ask. “He called him a villain enough times himself.”
“It was not right of me; he blushes. “I’m afraid he wasn’t the only one to blame; we were both fools then; I think we learned from this.
I didn’t answer; I was waiting for the necessary explanation.
“It would be nice if you visited; – he adds with a small laugh; – to be honest, I am the woman he married. I have reception day on Tuesday. K. Mansions, second issue. He runs away with it; leave me wondering to myself.
Some more enterprising pastor could set up a smaller church on the Strand, behind the Law Courts. You could make very good deals; would remarry newly divorced couples. A friend of mine—a man of letters, too—declared that he had never loved his wife more than on two occasions; – first, when he refused, and secondly, when he testified against him while sitting on the witness stand.
– Men themselves are strange creatures; – remarks a lady to a gentleman in my presence… As if they don’t even know for sure what they want.
She was annoyed with men in general. I’m not saying he’s wrong; they are often very annoying-114-me too. There is one person in particular who always irritates me. He speaks like this; he acts stupidly. He preaches like a saint; he acts like a fool; he knows what is right and does what is wrong. Let’s not even talk about it. He will get his one one day; we put it in a pretty, comfortable, well-lined box; the top of it is tightly folded; we put it aside in a quiet little place; I also know a church; then to which; because he wakes up differently and behaves wickedly again.
The addressed man – in general, as smart people tend to be – looks at the handsome critic with a smile.
– Dear Madame; – he says – he doesn’t accuse who he should. I admit that I often don’t know what I want; what little I know about it, I don’t like it either. I didn’t do it, I didn’t choose anyone. I am much less satisfied with it than you can be, madam. It is a greater secret to me than to you; and I have to live with my will. You should feel sorry for me instead of accusing me.
It’s true that a bad mood comes over me and I envy the old hermits that they avoided life’s problems with open, courageous cowardice. There are days when I dream of an existence that does not have the thousand fine threads that bind our souls to Lilliput. Sometimes I want to live in Norway above the black waters and fjords; there no other human being will dispute my kingdom from me. The forest whispers to me alone; the stars shine only for me. How I will make a living, I don’t know for sure yet. I land once a month; I go down to the surrounding villages and return home well loaded. I guess I wouldn’t need much. My rifle and fishing boat would be enough. I would also have a big dog; would speak to me through his eyes, they were filled with unspoken thought. We would wander the fens together, find our lunch together in the primitive way of people who who haven’t dreamed of ten-course lunches, Savoy feasts. I would cook my lunch myself, spend it with a bottle of good wine, which refreshes the manly mood and makes thinking easier. (You see, I’m not very persistent. This gift of civilization-115-I intended to take him with me to the hermitage.) In the evening – my mouth tickles – I sit by a bush fire and meditate; new insights are slowly awakening in me. I am strengthened by the million silent voices drowning in the sound of waves – maybe I am getting closer to it, I understand better that we came into this world with a purpose. Maybe I can grasp some tip of the secret of what is the meaning of existence.
No, no, my dear lady; I would not take a companion with me into this world of renouncing everything; but certainly by no means of such sex as you think. There are times when it is better to be alone. Love deters us from those depths; it makes a man or a woman out of us, even though if we want to see the stars a little closer, we have to say goodbye to that. We men and women don’t show each other our best side; very often, I’m afraid, rather the worst. A woman’s highest ideal of a man is a man in love; before man, woman is always the possible adored. We see each other’s hearts, but not each other’s souls. In each other’s presence, we never shake off the clod of earth. Mother Nature, the matchmaker, is always lurking around us. Woman can make us men; but he wishes to agree there. “Come up to me! – he shouts to his son, who is walking on a muddy road with an injured leg; – – be true, oh, gentle; but do not rise higher then; stay here by my side.” The woman would wake the martyr, the prophet, the finder of the world’s lost hopes from his sleep. She would wrap her arms around his neck to pull him close.
The man says to the woman: “You are my wife. Your America is here; between these walls. Here is your work; your duties.” This is the case in ninety-nine out of a thousand cases; except that the woman and man were not cast according to a pattern and were not molded from the same material.
Sometimes, even if it hurts, a woman’s duty is to stay within four walls. But Mary’s duty was not Joseph’s.
The hero of the new, popular novels is the young man who says: “I love you more than my soul”. The popular heroine exclaims “I will go to hell with you for our love!” There are men and women who would not be able to answer like that; – there are men-116-who dream a dream; women who have apparitions – these are not practical persons from the point of view of Fairyland. But it wouldn’t be such a peaceful place if it was built for them.
Have we not put sexual love on a higher pedestal than it deserves? A noble passion; but not the noblest. There is also a love that is even more powerful, in whose world this is only the lamp that illuminates the hut; or only moonlight that bathes mountains and valleys. Once there were two women. They played a piece that I could watch in daylight. They had been friends since they were girls, until the usual trouble appeared on the horizon: the man. Sweet, pretty lad; worthy of no one’s thought; but women love the undeserving. Overpopulation wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t want it. Due to some misfortune, both of them had to be a poor human specimen.
Their rivalry brought out the worst in them. It is a mistake to say that love only ennobles; you can also lower it. It was a very ordinary struggle that developed between the two for a price that the observer could not find satisfactory. The losing side could easily have been consoled by the joy of the winner, even if it was not the most correct way to win. But ancient, old, dirty passions were stirred up in these women; the wedding bell closed only the first scene.
It’s not a big deal to figure out the second one. It would have ended at the divorce court if the abandoned wife didn’t feel that a better revenge would come from keeping silent.
Act three – barely eighteen months – the man dies; – by the way, it’s the first lucky turn we’ve personally had in the entire game. His situation must have been very worrisome from the start. Despite its shallowness, one cannot look at it without a certain regret; – some amusing serenity is also mixed in this pity. Most of the dramas of life can be seen as farce or tragedy according to the viewer’s own whim. Dramatists always play it as a tragedy; but this is the secret of true farce.-117-
Thus was true, lawful virtue victorious; thus, those who set the play aside would have punished the irregularity as an uninteresting sermon on virtue, if it hadn’t been for the fourth scene, in which it turns out that the abandoned wife comes to the one with whom she once treated her to ask for forgiveness. He will get it. Strangely enough, they find that their love for each other has not changed. They lived without each other for a long time; so sweet that now they can hold hands again. Two lonely women; they will live together, for each other. Those who knew them well in later times said of them that their lives were very beautiful; full of charm, nobility.
I’m not saying that such a story happens often, but it is much more plausible than one might think. Sometimes “it’s better to be alone”; for woman and without “man”.