The Blue Notebook
But now, suddenly, the tiny blonde woman (who has drunk at least three-quarters of a bottle of Scotch and is as cool and controlled as a soft little kitten with sweet, just-open misty blue eyes) gets up and says, ‘Bill, Bill, I want to dance. I want to dance, baby.’ And Bill jumps up towards the record-player, and the room is full of late Armstrong, the cynical trumpet and the cynical good-humoured voice of the older Armstrong. And Bill has gathered his beautiful little wife in his arms, and they are dancing. But it is a parody, a parody of good-humoured sexy dancing. Now everyone is dancing, and Nelson and his wife are away on the edge of the group, ignored. No one is listening to them, people can’t stand it any more. And then Nelson says, loud, jerking his thumb at me: ‘I’m going to dance with Anna. I can’t dance, I can’t do anything, you don’t have to tell me that, but I’m going to dance with Anna.’ I stand up, because everyone is looking at me, saying with their eyes: Go on, you’ve got to dance, you’ve got to.
Nelson comes over, and says loudly in parody: ‘I’m going to dance with Anna. Dance with m-e-e-! Da-a-a-ance with me, Anna.’
His eyes are desperate with self-dislike, misery, pain. And then, in parody: ‘Com’n, let’s fuck, baby, I like your style.’
I laugh. (I hear my laugh, shrill and pleading.) They all laugh, in relief, because I’m playing my role; and the dangerous moment is passed. And Nelson’s wife laughs loudest. She gives me, however, an acute, fearful, inspection; and I know that I’ve already become part of the marital battle; and that the whole point of me, Anna, was probably to add fuel to the battle. They’ve probably fought over me, interminably, in the terrible hours between four and seven in the morning, when they wake in anxiety (but anxiety about what?) and fight to the death. I can even hear the dialogue: I dance with Nelson, while his wife watches, smiling in painful anxiety, and listen to the dialogue:
SHE: Yes, I suppose you think I don’t know about you and Anna Wulf.
HE: That’s right, you don’t know and you’ll never know, will you?
SHE: So you think I don’t know, well I do know, I’ve just got to look at you!
HE: Look at me, baby! Look at me, doll! Look at me, honey, look, look, look! What do you see? Lothario? Don Juan? Yes, that’s me. That’s right. I’ve been screwing Anna Wulf, she’s just my style, my analyst says she is, and who am I to argue with my analyst?