Saturday, February 15, 2020

clever minds

I am still reading through my book of poems by Phyllis McGinley. And I'm still amazed at her seemingly limitless ability to make rhymes on every subject - not just rhymes, of course, but intelligent, clever, witty and other things.

Incident in the Afternoon

I heard two ladies at a play - 
A comedy considered witty -
It was a Wednesday matinee
And they had come from Garden City.
Their frocks were rather arts-and-crafts,
And they had lunched, I learned, at Schrafft's.

Although we did not speak or bow
Or comment even on the weather,
More intimate I know them now
Than if we'd gone to school together.
(As you must presently divine,
their seats were rather near to mine.)

Before the curtain rose I heard
What each had told her spouse that morning.
I learned the history, word for word,
Of why three cooks had given warning.
Also that neither cared a straw
For domineering sons-in-law.

I heard a bridge hand, play by play.
I heard how all's not gold that glitters.
I heard a moral resume
Of half a dozen baby-sitters.
I learned beyond the slightest question
Shrimps are a trial to digestion.

The lights went down. The stage was set.
Still, in the dusk that fans the senses,
Those ladies I had never met
Poured out their swollen confidences.
The dialogue was smart. It stirred them
To conversation. And I heard them.

Above each stylish epigram
Wherewith the hero mocked his rival,
They proved how nicely curried lamb
Might justify a roast's revival,
That some best-selling author's recent
Book was lively. But indecent.

I heard a list of maladies
Their all too solid flesh was heir to.
I heard that one, in her deep freeze,
Could store a steer, but did not care to.
A neighbor's delicate condition
I heard of, all through intermission.

They laid their lives, like open tomes,
Upon my lap and turned the pages.
I heard their taste in hats and homes,
their politics, but not their ages.
So much I heard of strange and true
Almost it reconciled me to
One fact, unseemly to recall:
I did not hear the play at all.

I swear this woman was every bit as brilliantly clever as Jane Austen, in her way. And that's saying something (although just my opinion).

And speaking of Jane, the ladies' group at church gave a Jane Austen tea and luncheon today, with a speaker. And it was very enjoyable. The attention to detail was surprising; over eighty attended, and it must have been a lot of work.

First of all, we were given pre-printed name tags - not to wear, but to put in for a raffle if we wanted. There were four or five choices. There were tea party-ish hats there and a mirror, if you wanted to be hatted during the program. Each table was set for eight and everyone had a favor at their seat. Inside was a teabag and a Ghirardelli square of chocolate; the little gold box was closed with a little cameo pin!

Not fine jewelry, but still -
Each table had two or three little papers elegantly printed with quotations from famous people - quotes about love:

I took these photos at home. I can't believe I forgot my camera! The decorations were so pretty.

Each table was labeled with the names of couples from Jane Austen novels: ours were John and Isabella Knightley. They called us up to get our food by table. There was cream of mushroom soup or one with beans and kale - that was good. And if you asked, a gluten-free one with carrots and ginger. Three croissant sandwiches: tuna, chicken or tomato and mozzarella.  Salad greens with several toppings and ranch or Italian dressing. And the desserts - I wondered if they'd come from a bakery, they looked so perfect. But everything was homemade.

In between the meal and dessert a young woman gave a talk about Jane Austen's vision of what real romance in a novel should look like  in comparison with overly emotional, melodramatic depictions which were popular in her day. Lastly, they had the raffle. Everyone was delighted with the whole affair.


  1. The ladies' group at your church obviously know a thing or two about putting together such an elegant affair. I can't help wondering if you chose to be fitted with a hat.

    1. No, I did not want to mess the hair. ;-) But, I was amazed at the attention to detail that went into this.

  2. Replies
    1. It really was! But I was sorry that it was ninety nine percent older women. There was one (who I know from the library) who is probably mid-thirties, but she was the youngest.

  3. That sounds such fun! A literary lunch with gorgeous food, favours and facts.
    I loved Phyllis McGinley's poem - so clever!

    1. I'm glad you liked it, Clare. All her work is clever like that, but not all is timely, after all these years.

  4. Oh, my, that poem is funny. I must look her up. And your lunch sounds just the most delightful ;-) There are many younger women at my church who would probably dominate that sort of event. I was just talking to one yesterday who is hosting a book club among her co-workers and they are starting with "Jane Austen Classics You Missed." I didn't know of the titles she mentioned. She is also a librarian ;-)

    1. Do you mean they weren't really Jane Austen classics, Gretchen? :D It's interesting how popular she is now.

  5. A splendid affair! I liked your pictures and descriptions. You probably enjoyed this even more without your camera.

    1. But when one has a blog, one must remember the camera! :D