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We’re already up to Week 40 in the Deal Me In 2014 short story project and the Seven of Diamonds brought me to Dorothy Parker’s “The Waltz”. This is the first time I’ve read anything by Parker but I don’t think it will be the last. My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here. DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
“The Waltz” is a glance at a young lady (I think she’s relatively young) and her thoughts as she dances with a gentleman at a party. We get to “hear” what she says out loud to the man because it’s in italics. This is only a small part of the story. The real part is the rest of it in which she expresses silently to herself (and to the reader) what she really thinks.
Of course this provides huge laughs in Parker’s Southern style because what is said out loud is drastically different from what is thought. The story is well worth reading for the humor and doesn’t take a long time to get through. While it was written for the New Yorker in 1933, I couldn’t help thinking of Jane Austen situations. The significance of “The Waltz” apart from it’s funny side most likely comes from the circumstances in which many women have found themselves over the years, decades and centuries where they must pretend to be something they are not. The man in the story doesn’t really say or think much. He doesn’t have to.
Here’s a snippet of the lady’s thoughts when she replies out loud that she would love to dance:
What can you say, when a man asks you to dance with him? I most certainly will not dance with you, I’ll see you in hell first…Oh, yes, do let’s dance together. It’s so nice to meet a man who isn’t a scaredy-cat about catching my beri-beri.
I confess I was a little afraid to find out what beri-beri was.