Lemonade & A Tomato Sandwich

There was, for example, her stomach. She was used to certain dishes, and she had a strong conviction that she could not possibly eat anything else. There must be a lemonade and a tomato sandwich late in the morning, then a light lunch with a stuffed tomato. Not only did she require food from a selection of a dozen dishes, but in addition this food must be prepared in just a certain way. One of the most annoying half hours of the first fortnight occurred in Los Angeles, when an unhappy waiter brought her a tomato stuffed with chicken salad instead of celery.

“We always serve it that way, madame,” he quavered to the gray eyes that regarded him wrathfully.

Gloria made no answer, but when the waiter had turned discreetly away she banged both fists upon the table until the china and silver rattled.

“Poor Gloria!” laughed Anthony unwittingly, “you can’t get what you want ever, can you?”

“I can’t eat stuff!” she flared up.

“I’ll call back the waiter.”

“I don’t want you to! He doesn’t know anything, the darn fool!”

“Well, it isn’t the hotel’s fault. Either send it back, forget it, or be a sport and eat it.”

“Shut up!” she said succinctly.

“Why take it out on me?”

“Oh, I’m not,” she wailed, “but I simply can’t eat it.”

Anthony subsided helplessly.

“We’ll go somewhere else,” he suggested.

“I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’m tired of being trotted around to a dozen cafes and not getting one thing fit to eat.”

“When did we go around to a dozen cafes?”

“You’d have to in this town,” insisted Gloria with ready sophistry.

Anthony, bewildered, tried another tack.

“Why don’t you try to eat it? It can’t be as bad as you think.”

“Just–because–I–don’t–like–chicken!”

She picked up her fork and began poking contemptuously at the tomato, and Anthony expected her to begin flinging the stuffings in all directions. He was sure that she was approximately as angry as she had ever been–for an instant he had detected a spark of hate directed as much toward him as toward any one else–and Gloria angry was, for the present, unapproachable.

Then, surprisingly, he saw that she had tentatively raised the fork to her lips and tasted the chicken salad. Her frown had not abated and he stared at her anxiously, making no comment and daring scarcely to breathe. She tasted another forkful–in another moment she was eating. With difficulty Anthony restrained a chuckle; when at length he spoke his words had no possible connection with chicken salad.

The Beautiful and The  Damned – F.  Scott Fitzgerald.

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