This Pearl story part should have been posted before the last one I posted.
Don’t bother Pearl! I’m just standing next to Pearl. Pearl has got me on the verge of a nervous breakdown in five minutes!
This goes on until the end of the third week, and finally, we’re beginning to work out what they call in novels, “a relationship.” Up to then in my life there had been no relationships, just, “Hey, Esther Jane, wanna go to the dance?” Is this a relationship?
We begin to work out this reciprocal thing between the two of us where, one hour out of the day, in Biology 3, I am Noel Coward, and, in Biology 3, she is Margot Fontaine. How it worked out I don’t know, but I’d talk differently. I’d say, “Hello, Pearl.” Josway would yell from up front, “Hey, shut up!” I’d say back, “Hello, Alex.”
Back to the frog. We had worked this thing out. And that Friday afternoon, I say, “Pearl, would you like…ah…, do you want me to sharpen your pencil?”
And she says, “Yes.” Something is sacred, even about the girl’s pencil. It’s so clean, while mine’s a mess. I sharpen her pencil. I bring it back. “Thank you.”
I sense in the air, something. I am getting a signal. And I don’t know what to do about it. Like a guy who’s hearing code on a pair of earphones—and he can’t read code, and you know they’re calling you.
I don’t know how to say it. I don’t know whether women know this, how fantastically difficult it is to say, “Do you want to go out with me?” You can’t even get it out! So I’m standing there, trying to figure it out. And I say, “Pearl, it’s a nice day, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” And hanging on the end of the “Yes” are little tassels. And there are little sparkly pieces on it, maybe diamonds. You know the Disney cartoons, where the good fairy waves her wand and it goes ping! That “Yes” hangs in the air. Pearl is not talking about the sky and the wind and the rain and the rotten blast furnace dust that is coming down through the open window. She says, “Yes.”
I go back to my end of the table and now I am really scared. When you get the “Yes.” What do you do now? What would you do if right now the phone rang and it’s Darryl Zanuck on the line. He says, “We’ve been watching you. When can you get out to the Coast?” All these years you’ve been saying, “Ah, if I was gonna make a movie, I know what I’d do! I know what I’d do!” What would you do if tomorrow the Senator gets up at the national convention and says, “And I want to place in nomination the name of that great American, Charlie W. Schmidlap!”—and you’re Charlie? Would you go? Well, I am getting the “Yes.” Pearl has said “Yes.”
More to come.