Tuesday, October 21, 2008


And there is the face, which is the most important experience for me and which seems to escape me. I am waiting for someone to arrive on the train. It is toward the end of the afternoon. The train is late. The taxi driver leaves his cab. He is youngish. There is really nothing very specific about him. If he ever went to a dance - which I doubt he would - he would have trouble getting a date. So, to this stranger, whom I very likely will never see again, I bring a bulky and extended burden of anxieties like the baggage train of some early army. Does he live with his wife, his girl, his mother, his drunken father? Does he live alone? Does he have a small bank account, a big cock, is his underwear clean? Does he throw low dice, has he paid his dentist's bills - or has he ever been to the dentist's? We see the light of the approaching train in the distance, burning gratuitously in the full light of day. At this sight, he takes a comb out of his pocket and runs it through his hair...What I do see in this gesture is the man - his essence, his independence; see in his homely face the beauty of a velocity that does not apprehend the angle of repose. Here in this gesture of combing his hair is a marvel of self-possession, and the thrill is mutual, it seems, the key to this time of life.

Journals, John Cheever

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