Why I Love Grace Paley

From The Used Boy Raisers by Grace Paley; The Little Disturbances of Man, 1959

There were two husbands disappointed by eggs.

I don’t like them that way either, I said. Make your own eggs. They sighed in unison. One man was livid; one was pallid.

There isn’t a drink around here, is there? asked Livid.

Never find one here, said Pallid. Don’t look; driest damn house.

Pallid pushed the eggs away, pain and disgust his escutcheon.

Livid said, Now really, isn’t there a drink? Beer? he hoped.

Nothing, said Pallid, who’d been through the pantries, closets, and refrigerators looking for a white shirt.

You’re damn right, I said. I buttoned the high button of my powder-blue duster. I reached under the kitchen table for a brown paper bag full of an embroidery which asked God to Bless Our Home.

I was completing this motto for the protection of my sons, who were also Livid’s. It is true that some months earlier, from a far place—the British plains in Africa—he had written hospitably to Pallid: I do think they’re fine boys, you understand. I love them too, but Faith is their mother and now Faith is your wife. I’m so much away. If you want to think of them as yours, old man, go ahead.

Why, thank you, Pallid had replied, airmail, overwhelmed. Then he implored the boys, when not in use, to play in their own room. He made all efforts to be kind.

Now as we talked of time past and upon us, I pierced the ranch house that nestles in the shade of a cloud and a Norway maple, just under the golden script.

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