Portraits & Passages

Chapter 46


She loves her throne, but it actually keeps her from passing through the doorway that leads to a true majesty.


Below the Salt

The thing about me that most bothered Pam Newhouse, and for that matter, most other people, was that I felt special – a singularly gifted person equal to her or anybody. That was  the real rub. I don’t recall ever stating it like so, but even when unspoken that was clear, and I could sense that it irritated her. Sometimes one could see the rage rising up to her eyes and boiling down her cheeks.

To be honest, one of the attractions of knowing her was the fantasy that we could sit back and watch together objectively the cultural fabric being played out before us. For in a certain sense  I had always felt beyond it, distant from the contemporary needs of the moment, and so looked forward to the company of someone also removed from the need to react to what is mostly a big carnival.

For me knowing Pam wasn’t about receiving favors but that I was going to be received on an equal footing. Well, ultimately she would make it very clear that that was too big a favor to ask . As much as she put down her own family’s pretensions, she was very much partial to it. She was never going to allow my own self worth to intrude upon her position in the form of her accepting me as her equal.

That is why whenever I would mention my interactions with one or another of the celebrated people I knew she would be so dismissive as to be short with me. But if I was indulging a  shallow vanity of knowing a Herbert Simon or an Alexander Calder, they were people who accepted me with kindness and in some cases with interest. Of course they were my elders,  and yes, I wasn’t at their lives’ center, but I felt their affection for me, and I loved them for it. I also felt equal to them, and that time would demonstrate that. She would have none of that!




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