Today’s words come to us from American writer and satirist, Dorothy Parker. These particular words appeared in a piece called, But the One on the Right, published in The New Yorker, in October of 1929.
The piece is a first-person internal monologue about a dinner party the narrator (Parker herself) would rather not be attending. It’s all the things we don’t say out loud. And it’s hilarious. (If you have a couple of minutes, click on the link above and read the whole piece.) Parker is seated next to a dolt (on her left) who spends the evening talking about salad and potatoes.
She would much rather be talking to the one on the right, but the woman sitting on the other side of him won’t share.
Parker decides to get vin triste (this is French for I’m about to drink like a fish) and reaches for the glass of white wine in front of her:
Oh my God, it’s Chablis. And of a year when the grapes failed, and they used Summer squash instead.
I really, really like this woman.
Eventually, the dinner course arrives and the wine switches to red.
Here’s the quote in its entirety, for context:
I’m glad there’s red wine now. Even if it isn’t good, I’m glad. Red wine gives me courage. The Red Badge of Courage. I need courage. I’m in a thin way, here. Nobody knows what a filthy time I’m having. My precious evening, that can never come again, ruined, ruined, ruined, and all because of this Somewhat Different Monologist on my left. But he can’t lick me. The night is not dead, no, nor dying. You know, this really isn’t bad wine.
Eventually, the one on the right finally turns and engages Parker in conversation. They bond over their mutual boredom and make plans to leave the party together.
Here’s to the Red Badge of Courage.