Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1931, Sept. 11: HMK to RH -- Personal Banter

London Terrace
In Old Chelsea

September Eleventh. [1931]

My dear R.H. [Rena Harrell],

I do not smoke a pipe. I never saw Ruby Farrel in my life and I never worked with Jim Kirkwood and so there goes your long arm of circumstance. Women are strange creatures and seem ready always to change a thousand charming possibilities for one grim fact or the recording page of some family Bible. I hope you never come knocking at my door or if you do that you will only find Peter who will mystify you even more and tell you nothing. I have not told you what happened when I was baptized but I will say that I squirmed about and got water in my ear for my pains even though what was going on did concern me to some extent. That curiosity cost me years of pain and the loss of hearing in my left ear so you see what become of being curious. As for the names tacked onto an innocent and defenseless child, I do not tell them to you for they open the way by their significance to a world of questions that would be painful to me in that they recall a wicked injustice to my sainted Mother who suffered from the stupidity of the pride of blood that has made me hate the name. And that is that.

What a lovely summer you must have had and how lovely your little Japanese friend must have been. Its true about their grace. I felt when I was in Japan altho I knew a little of the usage of polite society like the proverbial bull let loose in a shop filled with satsuma and cloisonne. I must tell you sometime about a house in which I was a guest there and how utterly conceited we are in thinking that we represent all that there is of culture and civilization and the fine thing of life. Have you read "The Book of Tea?" If not do so.

The Griffith picture is a sad thing I'm afraid and your young friend will find much to criticize. I hate to think that D.W. is dated but he is and definitely and there were signs of it in Abraham Lincoln. But this thing is so banal, so sentimental and East Lynnish that its pathetic. But not so pathetic as if you were to succumb and get yourself one of these frightful Eugenie hats or as my friend Madame Volavy calls them "eugenic" hats. And don't speak of shaggy little yellow and bronze chrysanthemums. I adore them and they come at the time of year I love the most, brave little things freezing with smiles upon their faces, laughing in the face of death.

And I don't even smoke cigars or cigarettes, what do you think of that? And all my life I've known only the very wickedest kind of people and if you must know it I'm six feet high and my hair is getting quite white altho my youngest sister beat me to it at 28. And that again is that.


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