Sunday, June 05, 2005

from "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant"

by Anne Tyler

The baby chewed on a curtain pull. Jane, the nine-year-old, perched on Ezra’s knee as casually as if he were a piece of furniture. She smelled of crayons and peanut butter – homely smells that warmed his heart. “What are you fixing in your restaurant tonight?” she asked.
“Cold things. Salads. Soups.”
“Soups are hot,” she said.
“Not necessarily.”
She paused, perhaps to store this information in some tidy filing cabinet inside her head. Ezra was touched by her willingness to adjust – by her amiable adaptability. Was it possible, he sometimes wondered, that children humored grown-ups? If grown-ups insisted on toilet training, on please and thank you – well, all right, since it seemed to mean so much to them. It wasn’t important enough to argue about. This is a transitive verb, some grown-up would say, and the children would go along with it; though to them it was immaterial, frankly. Transitive, intransitive, who cared? What difference did it make? It was all a foreign language anyhow.


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