MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES
Part 23 – YOU WERE PERFECTLY FINE
Alcohol does different things to different persons. There was a friend of mine whose alcohol tolerance was so low that he would get pleasantly drunk after just a drink or two or even one glass of beer. He was the live wire of every party as he would get happily high very quickly and then amuse all of us with his drunken antics. Surprisingly, his wife did not seem to be ashamed of her husband’s drunkenness and his embarrassing behaviour. She never scolded him or nagged her husband for making a comic spectacle of himself. She just enjoyed his frolics and laughed it off as good fun. Maybe she thought it was best to play along and take her husband’s drinking problem with a pinch of salt in the spirit of fun. Maybe she felt that humour was the best antidote to relieve her stress. Any other wife in her position would have nagged, rebuked and fought with her husband and made his life miserable and ruined their marital relationship.
A few years later I read a story called You Were Perfectly Fine by Dorothy Parker and remembered this delightful couple. This story is a satire on the effects of alcohol. It shows the consequences of a man getting gloriously drunk and the unexpected reaction of his lover to his drunken antics.
You Were Perfectly Fine is freely available to read on the internet and I am giving a few url links below and also pasting the story below for your convenience. Do enjoy this delightful story, and don’t forget to read between the lines.
YOU WERE PERFECTLY FINE
by DOROTHY PARKER
The pale young man eased himself carefully into the low chair, and rolled his head to the side, so that the cool chintz comforted his cheek and temple.
"Oh, dear," he said. "Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. Oh."
The clear-eyed girl, sitting light and erect on the couch, smiled brightly at him.
"Not feeling so well today?" she said.
"Oh, I'm great," he said. "Corking, I am. Know what time I got up? Four o'clock this afternoon, sharp. I kept trying to make it, and every time I took my head off the pillow, it would roll under the bed. This isn't my head I've got on now. I think this is something that used to belong to Walt Whitman. Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear."
"Do you think maybe a drink would make you feel better?" she said.
"The hair of the mastiff that bit me?" he said. "Oh, no, thank you. Please never speak of anything like that again. I'm through. I'm all, all through. Look at that hand; steady as a hummingbird. Tell me, was I very terrible last night?"
"Oh, goodness," she said, "everybody was feeling pretty high. You were all right."
"Yeah," he said. "I must have been dandy. Is everybody sore at me?"
"Good heavens, no," she said. "Everyone thought you were terribly funny. Of course, Jim Pierson was a little stuffy, there for a minute at dinner. But people sort of held him back in his chair, and got him calmed down. I don't think anybody at the other tables noticed at all. Hardly anybody."
"He was going to sock me?" he said. "Oh, Lord. What did I do to him?"
"Why, you didn't do a thing," she said. "You were perfectly fine. But you know how silly Jim gets when he thinks anybody is making too much fuss over Elinor."
"Was I making a pass at Elinor?" he said. "Did I do that?""Of course you didn't," she said. "You were only fooling, that's all. She thought you were awfully amusing. She was having a marvelous time. She only got a little tiny bit annoyed just once, when you poured the clam juice down her back."
"My God," he said. "Clam juice down that back. And every vertebra a little Cabot. What'll I ever do?"
"Oh, she'll be all right," she said. "Just send her some flowers or something. Don't worry about it. It isn't anything."
"No, I won't worry," he said. "I haven't got a care in the world. I'm sitting pretty. Oh, dear, oh, dear. Did I do any other fascinating tricks at dinner?"
"You were fine," she said. "Don't be so foolish about it. Everybody was crazy about you. The owner was a little worried because you wouldn't stop singing, but he really didn't mind. All he said was, he was afraid they'd close the place again, if there was so much noise. But he didn't care a bit, himself. I think he loved seeing you have such a good time. Oh, you were just singing away there, for about an hour. It wasn't so terribly loud, at all."
"So I sang," he said. "That must have been a treat. I sang."
"Don't you remember?" she said. "You sang one song after another. Everybody in the place was listening. They loved it. Only you kept insisting that you wanted to sing some song about some kind of fusiliers or other, and everybody kept shushing you, and you'd keep trying to start it again. You were wonderful. We were all trying to make you stop singing for a minute, and eat something, but you wouldn't hear of it. My, you were funny."
"Didn't I eat any dinner?" he said.
"Oh, not a thing," she said. "Every time the waiter would offer you something, you'd give it right back to him because you said that he was your long-lost brother, changed in the cradle by a gypsy band, and that anything you had was his. You had him simply roaring at you."
"I bet I did," he said. "I bet I was comical. Society's Pet, I must have been. And what happened then, after my overwhelming success with the waiter?"
"Why, nothing much," she said. "You took a sort of dislike to some old man with white hair, sitting across the room, because you didn't like his necktie, and you wanted to tell him about it. But we got you out before he got really mad."
"Oh, we got out," he said. "Did I walk?"
"Walk! Of course you did," she said. "You were absolutely all right. There was that nasty stretch of ice on the sidewalk, and you did sit down awfully hard, you poor dear. But good heavens, that might have happened to anybody."
"Oh, sure," he said. "Louisa Alcott or anybody. So I fell down on the sidewalk. That would explain what's the matter with my -- Yes, I see. And then what, if you don't mind?"
"Ah, now, Peter!" she said. "You can't sit there and say you don't remember what happened after that! I did think that maybe you were just a little tight at dinner -- Oh, you were perfectly all right, and all that, but I did know you were feeling pretty gay. But you were so serious, from the time that you fell down -- I never knew you to be that way. Don't you know, how you told me I had never seen your real self before? Oh, Peter, I just couldn't bear it, if you didn't remember that lovely long ride we took together in the taxi! Please, you do remember that, don't you? I think it would simply kill me, if you didn't."
"Oh, yes," he said. "Riding in the taxi. Oh, yes, sure. Pretty long ride, hmm?"
"Round and round the park," she said. "Oh and the trees were shining so in the moonlight. And you said you never knew before that you really had a soul."
"Yes," he said. "I said that. That was me."
"You said such lovely things," she said. "And I'd never known, all this time, how you had been feeling about me, and I'd never dared to let you see how I felt about you. And then last night -- oh, Peter dear, I think that taxi ride was the most important thing that ever happened to us in our lives."
"Yes," he said. "I guess it must have been."
"And we're going to be so happy," she said. "Oh, I just want to tell everybody! But I don't know -- I think maybe it would be sweeter to keep it all to ourselves."
"I think it would be," he said.
"Isn't it lovely?" she said.
"Yes," he said. "Great."
"Lovely!" she said.
"Look here," he said. "Do you mind if I have a drink? I mean, just medicinally, you know. I'm off the stuff for life, so help me. But I think I feel a collapse coming on."
"Oh, I think it would do you good," she said. "You poor boy. It's a shame you feel so awful. I'll go make you a whiskey and soda."
"Honestly," he said. "I don't see how you could ever want to speak to me again, after I made such a fool of myself last night. I think I'd better go join a monastery in
"You crazy idiot!" she said. "As if I could ever let you go away now! Stop talking like that. You were perfectly fine!"
She jumped up from the couch, kissed him quickly on the forehead, and ran out of the room.
The pale young man looked after her and shook his head long and slowly, then dropped it in his damp and trembling hands.
"Oh, dear," he said. "Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear."
They say that if you want to know the true character of a man, get him drunk. When intoxicated, whatever is hidden inside him, his pent up emotions, will be released and his true inner self will be exposed. Alcohol loosens inhibitions and sometimes acts as a lie detector. Alcohol makes you animated in speech and movement, and it encourages you to be expansive, makes you a bit reckless, and tell the truth, even reveal your secret thoughts.
This story is a simple conversation which takes place between a man and a woman on the morning after a party. The man, nursing a terrible hangover, who was so drunk the previous night that he does not even remember his actions under the influence of alcohol, is worried, ashamed and remorseful about his drunken behaviour but his companion (who is in love with him) reassures him: “you were perfectly fine”.
The woman is happy because under his inebriated spell the man has told her such lovely things (maybe she too believes that a man speaks the truth and reveals his true feelings when drunk and she is delighted that her love for the man is not unrequited after all and he too has reciprocal feelings for her which he is otherwise too shy to express). The woman tries to justify all his drunken actions because she also wants to justify his confession of love for her.
I love this simple story. The narration is superb. The interplay between the two characters, the man contrite and trying to explain himself for his drunken behaviour and the woman full of joy having heard “lovely” things from the man and trying to rationalize his antics, is a delight to read.
Do let me know how you liked this story, and the other 22 stories in this series on My Favourite Short Stories.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
Did you like this story? I am sure you will like the stories in my recently published book COCKTAIL comprising twenty seven short stories about relationships. To know more please click the links below:
Do try out this delicious, heady and exciting COCKTAIL
About Vikram Karve
A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and he is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune
with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. India
Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
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Fiction Short Stories Book
Foodie Book: Appetite for a Stroll
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
I'm a Dorothy Parker fan, and this was a wonderful story.
@ Braja - Yes, Dorothy Parker has written beautifully drawing upon her own life experiences, including this story.
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