Monday, December 24, 2012

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was as a concession to his hypochondriacal imagination that he formed the habit of reading in bed-- it soothed him. He read until he was tired and often fell asleep with the lights still on.

A sense of responsibility would spoil her. She's too pretty.

"You don't want to do anything?"
"I want to sleep."
For a second he was startled, almost as though she had meant this literally.
"Sort of. I want to just be lazy and I want some of the people around me to be doing things, because that makes me feel comfortable and safe-- and I want some of them to be doing nothing at all, because they can be graceful and companionable for me. But I never want to change people or get excited over them."

The stark and unexpected miracle of a night fades out with the lingering death of the last starts and the premature birth of the first newsboys.

The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second portrait, and a third-- before long the best lines cancel out-- and the secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a picture. We must be satisfied with hoping that such fatuous accounts of ourselves as we make to our wives and children and business associates are accepted as true.

A woman should be able to kiss a man beautifully and romantically without any desire to be either his wife or his mistress.

"Don't!" she said quietly. "I don't want that."
She sat down on the far side of the lounge and gazed straight before her. A frown had gathered between her eyes. Anthony sank down beside her and closed his hand over hers. It was lifeless and unresponsive.
"Why, Gloria!" He made a motion as if to put his arm about her but she drew away.
"I don't want that," she repeated.
"I'm very sorry," he said, a little impatiently. "I-- I didn't know you made such fine distinctions."
She did not answer.
"Won't you kiss me, Gloria?"
"I don't want to." It seemed to him she had not moved for hours.
"A sudden change, isn't it?" Annoyance was growing in his voice.
"Is it?" She appeared uninterested. It was almost as though she were looking at some one else.
"Perhaps I'd better go."
No reply. He rose and regarded her angrily, uncertainly. Again he sat down.
"Gloria, Gloria, won't you kiss me?"
"No." Her lips, parting for the word, had just faintly stirred.
Again he got to his feet, this time with less decision, less confidence.
"Then I'll go."
"All right-- I'll go"
He was aware of a certain irremediable lack of originality in his remarks. Indeed he felt that the whole atmosphere had grown oppressive. He wished she would speak, rail at him, cry out upon him, anything but his pervasive and chilling silence. He cursed himself for a weak fool; his clearest desire was to move her, to hurt her, to see her wince. Helplessly, involuntarily, he erred again.
"If you're tired of kissing me I'd better go"
He saw her lips curl slightly and his last dignity left him. She spoke, at length:
"I believe you've made that remark several times before."
He looked about him immediately, saw his hat and coat on a chair-- blundered into them, during an intolerable moment. Looking again at the couch he perceived that she had not turned, not even moved. With a shaken, immediately regretted "good-by" he went quickly but without dignity from the room.
For over a moment Gloria made no sound. Her lips were still curled; her glance was straight, proud, remote. Then her eyes blurred a little, and she murmured three words half aloud to the death-bound fire:
"Good-by, you ass!" she said.

...when she changed her mind and opening a table-drawer brought out a little black book-- a "Line-a-day" diary. This she had kept for seven years. Many of the pencil entries were almost illegible and there were notes and references to nights and afternoons long since forgotten, for it was not an intimate diary, even though it began with the immemorial "I am going to keep a diary for my children." Yet as she thumbed over the pages the eyes of many men seemed to look out at her from their half-obliterated names.

... And, after all, an obsolete list. She was in love now, set for the eternal romance that was to be the synthesis of all romance, yet sad for these men and these moonlights and for the "thrills" she had had-- and the kisses. The past-- her past, oh, what a joy! She had been exuberantly happy.

... After a moment she found a pencil and holding it unsteadily drew three parallel lines beneath the last entry. Then she printed FINIS in large capitals, put the book back in the drawer, and crept into bed.

Love lingered-- by way of long conversations at night into those stark hours when the mind thins and sharpens and the borrowings from dreams become the stuff of all life, by way of deep and intimate kindnesses they developed toward each other, by way of their laughing at the same absurdities and thinking the same things noble and the same things sad.

"I can sleep so well, so well with you in my arms."
Coming into Gloria's arms had a quite different meaning. It required that he should slide one arm under her shoulder, lock both arms about her, and arrange himself as nearly as possible as a sort of three-sided crib, for her luxurious ease. Anthony, who tossed, whose arms went tinglingly to sleep after half an hour of that position, would wait until she was asleep and roll her gently over to her side of the bed-- then, left to his own devices, he would curl himself into his usual knots.

Beautiful things grow to a certain height and then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay.

It seems that we he kissed me he began to think that perhaps he could get away with a little more, that I needn't be "respected".

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