Sunday, February 20, 2005

Q and A

A question and a wonderful answer:

Q. You had a large handbag with you at the [Yankees World Series] game. What was in it?

A. A Hermes address book with an extensible very thin silver pencil; and two other pencils--a black ball-point (my name stamped in gold), retractable, made by a veteran who is paralyzed below the chest, who makes and sells a variety of eye-catchers as a living--Hal McColl, 101 West Club Boulevard, Durham, North Carolina. I occasionally order a pen set of him since it doesn't scratch or exude spiders. In case it gave out, I had a Dixon Ticonderoga with brass cap; had a Standard ring-topped notebook and a little thing of fifteen pages with a glazed white cover, souvenir of Unz & Co., Stationers, 24 Beaver Street, New York City--given me for a trip but saved for a single special event. Then I had a miniature pair of black plastic binoculars weighing an ounce and three-quarters--bought by mail to watch a bluejay that for two or three years had preempted a catalpa tree in a backyard adjacent to my back windows. I like to startle it by imitating it, so that it gives a sharp look round and answers uncertainly. It stays all winter.
Question by man of letters George Plimpton, answer by poet Marianne Moore, from "Ten Answers: Letters from an October Afternoon, Part II," Harper’s (November 1964).

[Moore's "spiders" seems to refer to the way fountain-pen ink will sometimes spread out on highly porous paper.]

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