Friday, August 17, 2007

Sunday Aug 17

I outfitted her to the station
because she forced herself upon
me. I deserted my friends
in order to accommodate her,
what was the reward?



I shall not be fooled
by trickery again.

Owing to a cold I went to
bed early, and had my sisters
visit me for the first time in
a long while.


Matt's Notes

By "her," I assume Papa means Clara, the mysterious woman who has both fascinated and, it seems, tormented Papa since well before he started his 1924 diary. (The story of his disappointing, ongoing relationship with her showed up in full flower a week ago without introduction. He seems intimately familiar with her foibles and behavior, so he surely had a long history with her. She might even be one of the distant cousins he lived with when he first came to America.)

What type of disappointment and humiliation befell Papa when he changed his Sunday plans to see her off on a trip? Did she imply he'd get a kiss? An invitation to join her? A hint of a deeper romance? Or did they have an unspoken understanding in which she fed his appetite for hopes and dreams (remember, until this point Papa's dreams and romantically unrequited hopes were important food for his poet's soul, perhaps even more important to him than much of his real life) in exchange for assistance with her luggage and other odd jobs?

Whatever the particulars of their relationship, Papa and Clara manage to at least partly fill each others' needs through a well-established, pseudo-intimate routine. I imagine Papa has vowed a million times before to "not be fooled by trickery again" in the course of his association with her, but I expect he'll keep allowing it until he establishes a truer, more productive romance with someone else.


Additional note:

Papa writes "I outfitted her to the station" in the first line of this entry. It's an odd phrase but the word "outfitted" is quite clear:

I've always thought the verb "outfit" referred specifically to the collection or preparation of equipment and clothing, as in "Admiral Peary outfitted himself for his expedition to the North pole." But, Papa uses it here in a more general way to indicate that he brought Clara's stuff to a train station and perhaps loaded it onto a train. Was the word used more broadly this way back in the 20's?

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