Thursday, August 8, 2013

Others are equally obsessed with Dorothy Parker.

I joined the library in my new neighborhood today. Brought in a zoning permit as proof of residence because I still haven't gotten around to ordering up a new driver's license. Left said zoning permit at the front desk. My cell rang while I was browsing the audiobook selection. I've gotten back into the deal of listening to books. (Thank you, Manova.) It's not what I prefer and I'm not particularly good at it—a  visual person, I sort of need to see things in print—but I least at allows me to absorb stories while I do the dishes.

"... I forgot to give back your zoning permit," the librarian said apologetically.
"No worries. I'm still here." On my cell. Faux pas. 

So I head back up to the desk, taking a quick detour through the new arrivals. Fiction. And I spot this title: Farewell, Dorothy Parker. How could I have possibly have missed this? I'm sort of obsessed with Dorothy Parker. (Answer: Two kids, one job, three pets. I miss everything.) I checked out the book. It didn't look like the kind of novel I'd typically read. Still, it was about Dorothy Parker. So then I actually checked out the book. It's the normal, printed book. Perhaps someone will read it to me while I do dishes.

Dottie walking with Digs.
Today, I also learned that a friend's friend
 distills "Dorothy Parker" gin. In Brooklyn.
My admiration for Dorothy Parker started in Mrs. Olson's 10th grade English class with "One Perfect Rose." Among the gushy sonnets and other, less memorable poetry we were reading, this sarcastic bit struck me as brilliant. I was hooked. The love affair continued:

  • As an undergrad, I wrote an entire thesis on Dorothy Parker's short stories.
  • When I first moved to New York, I made a mecca to the brownstone where she lived on the Upper West Side.
  • My friend John Loecke and I would go for cocktails at the Algonquin, fancying ourselves a modern-day "Park Bench." (Except we worked at Ladies' Home Journal and not the New Yorker.)
  • I have Dorothy Parker martini glasses (Thank you, Ronda).
  • There's a large framed photograph of Dorothy Parker's cat, lounging on Dorothy Parker's bed hanging behind my head—in our living room—right now. (Thank you, Kate.)
But here's the thing: I "loved" Dorothy Parker the first time I read her words. But the more I learned about her, the more this affinity made sense. The woman wasn't just witty; she was awesome. She was a major champion for civil rights. She left her entire estate to Martin Luther King and willed that it be turned over to the NAACP if something should happen to him. (And it did - he was assassinated the year after her death.) She loved animals. If you read her short stories, her empathy is obvious. She "got" people. She demanded authenticity. All of these things are important to me. Could I possibly have read that between the few lines of "One Perfect Rose"? 

No, I don't really know Dorothy Parker - but I do know this: Those people with whom I seem to have an instant connection... I can't think of one time when it was just a superficial spark. Over time, the reasons have always been revealed. I find that fascinating. 


  1. I only know Ms. Parker through pithy quotes and anecdotes, but what I have seen I love. I may have to delve a little deeper! Thanks for the insight. :)
    Oh, and I think I need to try the gin.

  2. Here's the distillery: