The Girls In Their Summer Dresses By Irwin Shaw | Book Report

Added on - 30 Sep 2019

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The Girls in Their Summer DressesBYIRWIN SHAWFifth Avenue was shining in the sun when they left the Brevoort and started walking towardWashington Square. The sun was warm, even though it was November, and everything lookedlike Sunday morning--the buses, and the well-dressed people walking slowly in couples and thequiet buildings with the windows closed.Michael held Frances' arm tightly as they walked downtown in the sunlight. They walked lightly,almost smiling, because they had slept late and had a good breakfast and it was Sunday. Michaelunbuttoned his coat and let it flap around him in the mild wind. They walked, without sayinganything, among the young and pleasant-looking people who somehow seem to make up most ofthe population of that section of New York City."Look out," Frances said, as they crossed Eighth Street. "You'll break your neck."Michael laughed and Frances laughed with him."She's not so pretty, anyway," Frances said. "Anyway, not pretty enough to take a chancebreaking your neck looking at her."Michael laughed again. He laughed louder this time, but not as solidly. "She wasn't a bad-looking girl. She had a nice complexion. Country-girl complexion. How did you know I waslooking at her?" Frances cocked her head to one side and smiled at her husband under the tip-tilted brim of her hat. "Mike, darling . . ." she said.Michael laughed, just a little laugh this time. "Okay," he said. "The evidence is in. Excuse me. Itwas the complexion. It's not the sort of complexion you see much in New York. Excuse me."Frances patted his arm lightly and pulled him along a little faster toward Washington Square."This is a nice morning," she said. "This is a wonderful morning. When I have breakfast withyou it makes me feel good all day.""Tonic," Michael said. "Morning pickup. Rolls and coffee with Mike and you're on the alkaliside, guaranteed.""That's the story. Also, I slept all night, wound around you like a rope.""Saturday night," he said. "I permit such liberties only when the week's work is done.""You're getting fat," she said."Isn't it the truth? The lean man from Ohio."
"I love it," she said, "an extra five pounds of husband.""I love it, too," Michael said gravely."I have an idea," Frances said."My wife has an idea. That pretty girl.""Let's not see anybody all day," Frances said. "Let's just hang around with each other. You andme. We're always up to our neck in people, drinking their Scotch, or drinking our Scotch, weonly see each other in bed . . .""The Great Meeting Place," Michael said. "Stay in bed long enough and everybody you everknew will show up there.""Wise guy," Frances said. "I'm talking serious.""Okay, I'm listening serious.""I want to go out with my husband all day long. I want him to talk only to me and listen only tome.""What's to stop us?" Michael asked. "What party intends to prevent me from seeing my wifealone on Sunday? What party?""The Stevensons. They want us to drop by around one o'clock and they'll drive us into thecountry.""The lousy Stevensons," Mike said. "Transparent. They can whistle. They can go driving in thecountry by themselves. My wife and I have to stay in New York and bore each other tete a tete.""Is it a date?""It's a date."Frances leaned over and kissed him on the tip of the ear."Darling," Michael said. "This is Fifth Avenue.""Let me arrange a program," Frances said. "A planned Sunday in New York for a young couplewith money to throw away.""Go easy.""First let's go see a football game. A professional football game," Frances said, because she knewMichael loved to watch them. "The Giants are playing. And it'll be nice to be outside all day
today and get hungry and later we'll go down to Cavanagh's and get a steak as big as ablacksmith's apron, with a bottle of wine, and after that, there's a new French picture at theFilmarte that everybody says... Say, are you listening to me?""Sure," he said. He took his eyes off the hatless girl with the dark hair, cut dancer-style, like ahelmet, who was walking past him with the self-conscious strength and grace dancers have. Shewas walking without a coat and she looked very solid and strong and her belly was flat, like aboy's, under her skirt, and her hips swung boldly because she was a dancer and also because sheknew Michael was looking at her. She smiled a little to herself as she went past and Michaelnoticed all these things before he looked back at his wife. "Sure," he said, "we're going to watchthe Giants and we're going to eat steak and we're going to see a French picture. How do you likethat?""That's it," Frances said flatly. "That's the program for the day. Or maybe you'd just rather walkup and down Fifth Avenue.""No," Michael said carefully. "Not at all.""You always look at other women," Frances said. "At every damn woman in the city of NewYork.""Oh, come now," Michael said, pretending to joke. "Only pretty ones. And, after all, how manypretty women are there in New York? Seventeen?""More. At least you seem to think so. Wherever you go.""Not the truth. Occasionally, maybe, I look at a woman as she passes. In the street. I admit,perhaps in the street I look at a woman once in a while. . . .""Everywhere," Frances said. "Every damned place we go. Restaurants, subways, theaters,lectures, concerts.""Now, darling," Michael said. "I look at everything. God gave me eyes and I look at women andmen and subway excavations and moving pictures and the little flowers of the field. I casuallyinspect the universe.""You ought to see the look in your eye," Frances said, "as you casually inspect the universe onFifth Avenue.""I'm a happily married man." Michael pressed her elbow tenderly, knowing what he was doing."Example for the whole twentieth century, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Loomis.""You mean it?""Frances, baby . . ."
"Are you really happily married?""Sure," Michael said, feeling the whole Sunday morning sinking like lead inside him. "Now whatthe hell is the sense in talking like that?""I would like to know." Frances walked faster now, looking straight ahead, her face showingnothing, which was the way she always managed it when she was arguing or feeling bad."I'm wonderfully happily married," Michael said patiently. "I am the envy of all men between theages of fifteen and sixty in the state of New York.""Stop kidding," Frances said."I have a fine home," Michael said. "I got nice books and a phonograph and nice friends. I live ina town I like the way I like and I do the work I like and I live with the woman I like. Wheneversomething good happens, don't I run to you? When something bad happens, don't I cry on yourshoulder?""Yes," Frances said. "You look at every woman that passes.""That's an exaggeration.""Every woman." Frances took her hand off Michael's arm. "If she's not pretty you turn awayfairly quickly. If she's halfway pretty you watch her for about seven steps. . . .""My Lord, Frances!""If she's pretty you practically break your neck . . .""Hey, let's have a drink," Michael said, stopping."We just had breakfast.""Now, listen, darling," Mike said, choosing his words with care, "it's a nice day and we both feelgood and there's no reason why we have to break it up. Let's have a nice Sunday.""I could have a fine Sunday if you didn't look as though you were dying to run after every skirton Fifth Avenue.""Let's have a drink," Michael said."I don't want a drink.""What do you want, a fight?""No," Frances said, so unhappily that Michael felt terribly sorry for her. "I don't want a fight. I
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