BOTH PARTIES CONCERNED
I followed her out to the floor, but just as we got there the orchestra got sneaky on us. They started playing
Moonlight Becomes You.
It’s old now, but it’s a swell song. I mean it isn’t a bad song. We used to hear it once in a while on the radio in the car or the one at home. Once in a while Ruthie used to sing the words. But it wasn’t so hot, hearing it at Jake’s that night. It was embarrassing. And they must of played eighty-five choruses of it. I mean they kept playing it. Ruthie danced about ten miles away from me, and we didn’t look at each other much. Finally, they stopped. Then Ruthie broke away from me like. She walks back to the table, but she don’t sit down. She just picks up her coat and beats it. She was crying.
BLUE MELODY (scratchy needle on a phonograph record.)
“Why you like this little ole boy like you do?” Lida Louise asked Peggy.
“I don’t know,” Peggy said. “I like the way he stands at the blackboard.”
Rudford considered the remark disgusting, but Lida Louise’s threnodic eyes picked it up and looked away with it. She said to Black Charles, “Uncle, you hear what this little ole Margar-reet say?”
“No. What she say?” said Black Charles. He had the cover of his piano raised and was looking for something in the strings—a cigarette butt, perhaps, or the top of a catsup bottle.
“She say she like this ole boy on accounta the way he stands at the blackboard.”
“That right?” said Black Charles, taking his head out of the piano. “You sing somethin’ for these here chillern Lida Louise,” he said.
“Okay. What song they like?…Who stole my cigarettes? I had ‘em right here by my side.”
“You smoke too much. You a too-much gal. Sing,” said her uncle. He sat down at his piano. “Sing ‘Nobody Good Around.’ ”
“That ain’t no song for kiddies.”
“These here kiddies like that kinda song real good.”
“Okay,” said Lida Louise. She stood up, in close to the piano. She was a very tall girl. Rudford and Peggy, already sitting on the floor, had to look way up at her.
“What key you want it?”
Lida Louise shrugged. “A, B, C, D, E, F, F,” she said and winked at the children. “Who cares? Gimme a green one. Gotta match my shoes.”
Black Charles struck a chord, and his niece’s voice slipped into it. She sang “Nobody Good Around.” When she was finished, Rudford had gooseflesh from his neck to his waist. Peggy’s fist was in his coat pocket. He hadn’t felt it go in, and he didn’t make her take it out.
Now, years later, Rudford was making a great point of explaining to me that Lida Louise’s voice can’t be described, until I told him that I happened to own most of her records and knew what he meant. Actually, though, a fair attempt to describe Lida Louise’s voice can be made. She had a powerful, soft voice. Every note she sang was detonated individually. She blasted you tenderly to pieces. In saying her voice can’t be described, Rudford probably meant that it can’t be classified. And that’s true.
A GIRL I KNEW
probably for every man there is at least one city that sooner or later turns into a girl. how well or how badly the man actually knew the girl doesn't necessarily affect the transformation. she was there, and she was the whole city, and that was that.
i had a phonograph and two american phonograph records in my room.
on one of the records dorothy lamour sang moonlight and shadows, and on the other connee boswell sang
(elle chantait where are you? dans la nouvelle de salinger, mais je ne l'ai pas trouvée)
one evening i was in my sitting room, writing a long letter to a girl in pennsylvania, suggesting that she quit school and come to europe to marry me—a not infrequent suggestion of mine in those days. my phonograph was not playing. but suddenly the words to miss boswell’s song floated, just slightly damaged, through my open window:
"where are you?
where have you gone wissout me?
isought you cared about me.
where are you?”
thoroughly excited, i sprang to my feet, then rushed to my window and leaned out.
A YOUNG GIRL IN 1942 WITH NO WAIST AT ALL
Ray put his arm around Barbara’s waist to steady her. She has no waist at all,” said Mrs. Woodruff and looked gently at Ray. “How perfect it must be for you to be out on a night like this with somebody who has absolutely no waist at all.”