mad in pursuit: letters from james & orpha, summer of '26

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They say that the key to a successful marriage is the man always admitting he is wrong...

Postmarked Wednesday 8.25.26, from James in Lynbrook NY

I’ll accept your "pitilessly unsympathetic,” but you must share with me the “pathetically blind,” for I cannot see how you could take as serious the amusement-brimming letter I sent a few days ago. Feeling ashamed of the unsympathy I had shown to all your arrangements, and realizing that we were both taking the coordinating of our ideas on the subject of weddings a little too seriously, I sought to apologize. Very foolishly, I included a fanfare of gasconadery and fustian, little dreaming as I laughingly looked in Webster for the spelling of “arraignment” (I’m not looking it up now, so it may be wrong) that you would think I was upbraiding you more seriously than I would if you took a spoonful of mashed potato off my plate while I was reaching under the table for my fork.

I merely thought it would be too bad to spoil Mom’s chances with you through a misunderstanding; so I very jargonesquely admitted my ignorance only should be the subject of your scathing anger, withering scorn, demolishing ridicule, furious tirade, crusade of enlightenment, or what have you. And how, oh how, could you take seriously my array of prodigious wedding feats – I’m cured forever of attempted wit, when you consider my list of a lancers dance, three rounds of boxing with the best man, and a bathing suit plus a silk hat, or some such juvenile foolishness as I wrote, as constituting a reproach, plus a sigh and a hasty tear, for too involved ceremony?

If you still have that letter around bothering you, please nourish the stove with it, for I plainly perceive that the halcyon days of my levity, if ever there were any, are over. I am become a gracious elephant, toying with a cup of tea, being coyly arch the while…

An end to this most woeful misunderstanding, and my cumbersome stupidity.

Orpha – I am sorry.

If you still have that letter around bothering you, please nourish the stove with it

It is, I suppose, too late to make the wedding time earlier than 8 P.M. For some unknown reason, I was taking noon for granted. Ed Dooley is supposed to be in Hanover on the 7th, and will have to get there that night; I suppose he can make it somehow. I don’t quite understand your plans – is there to be a reception after the wedding at 8 P.M.? That is, I suppose we couldn’t get away until ten o’clock, which wouldn’t leave much time to get anywhere. And your reference to where I’ll stay – please explain what you are planning.

We had planned to start early Monday, stay over night in Albany or G.F., then my folks would come down here on the Tuesday night-boat, so as to get here Wednesday morning, to attend to the myriad things afoot here. They did not want to drive both ways by themselves, as motoring is no pleasure when you cover 100 miles a day every day in the week. So I planned to drive them up, but we can’t do that on Tuesday if I have to get there in the afternoon to go to the city hall. Could you find out if there’s any other way to get the license than by appearing in person? If you know the license clerk’s residence, perhaps we might arrange to get it from him in the evening. Shall I plan to wear a tuxedo? Please explain it all to my addled mind, and forgive my harshness; I have had a week of painful sinus trouble and have been very busy.




Gasconade: boastfulness; bravado; swagger

Fustian: Pretentious speech or writing; pompous language.



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