Simple Summaries

The Achieve of, the Mastery of the Thing

Laurie Colwin

Simple Summary by Sarah Frank

·      Once upon a time, I was Professor Thorne Speizer’s stoned wife

o  “I took his Introduction to Modern European History—a class I was compelled to take and he was forced to teach.”

o  “I employed the tricks childish adolescents useto make the substitute math teacher in high school nervous. I stared at hisfly.”

·      “Thorne was not so hard to get. He was only waiting for me to stop being his student and then he pounced on me. I was high during our courtship so I did not actually notice when things got out of hand. I was looking for a little fun. Thorne wanted to get married”

·      Still smokin that pot a lot

·      Kenny = supplier

·      “Faculty wives looked at me with fear—the fear that I knew something they did not know.”

o  “he did not mind having a flashy wife, and since I never misbehaved I caused him no pain, but I looked as if I were the sort to misbehave and this secretly pleased him”

·      Lionel “expanded from a self-supplier to a purveyor of the finest grass to only the finest heads”

o  “The dregs of this Linnie would sell to what hecalled the lower forms of life. The lower forms included almost everyone oncampus. The higher forms included people he liked.”

·      She smoked alone before Lionel but they are now “one mind” when they smoke

·      one of the campus’s married couples, Jill and Bill Benson.

·      “I got home late, having forgotten to do the shopping. Since I had freely opted to be Thorne’s housewife, he was perfectly justified in getting angry with me. My problem was, he thought I was having an affair.”

o  “When he looked as if he were about to shout, I would either get a very dangerous look in my eyes, or I would make him laugh, which was one of my prime functions in his life. The other was to behave in public”

·      She says something weird at a faculty dinner

·      “There were marriages that seemed propped up with toothpicks, and ones in which the wife was present but functionless, like a vestigial organ”

o  “The thought of Thorne and my becoming any of these people was so frightful that I had no choice but to get immediately high.”

·      Marv = dealer

o  Offers up all kinds of drugs

·      “When Thorne came back from his conference, the axe, which had been poised so delicately over the back of my neck, fell. This marked the end of my old life, and the beginning of the new. Thorne had called me from Chicago—he had called all night—and I had not been home. “You are sleeping with Lionel Browning,” he said”

o  She denies it

·      “If you stay high enough you never wonder what will become of you”

·      “The thing that divides the children from the adults is that children know it’s us against them—how right they are—and adults are children who grew up and are comfortable being them.”

·      She reveals she is always stoned

o  ““Thorne,” I said. “I have been stoned from the first minute you laid eyes on me and I am stoned now.” He regarded me for a moment. “You mean, you came to my class high?” Thorne said. “And you’re high now?””

·      “Ann, in other words, this is not normal reality. You have not been perceiving normal reality. How long has it been, Ann, since you actually perceived normal reality?” – Thorne

·      “in honor of Lionel and in the interests of further study, let’s have a little more of this stuff, okay?” – Thorne

·      “Ann, this mind-impairing substance has impaired your mind. Lionel Browning and you look nothing alike. Now are you going to roll those things all night or are you going to smoke them?” – Thorne

·     " The decade was fairly new, and just about everything was about to happen. In what other era could a nice young thing pass a marijuana cigarette to her straight-laced husband?"

o  "I felt full of achievement and mastery—Thorne being the victim and beneficiary of both. Getting him stoned was a definite achievement of some sort or other"