Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Funniest Line in American Lit

Sometimes I think it is in this bit from Bernard Malamud's Magic Barrel.  Salzman the marriage broker has come to call on Finkel, aspiring rabbi perhaps in need of a wife:
"So good evening, I am invited?"
Leo nodded, disturbed to see him again, yet unwilling to ask the man to leave.
Beaming still, Salzman laid his portfolio on the table. "Rabbi, I got for you tonight good news."
"I've asked you not to call me rabbi.  I'm still a student."
"Your worries are finished.  I have for you a first-class bride."
"Leave me in peace concerning the subject."  Leo pretended lack of interest.
"The world will dance at your wedding."
"Please, Mr. Salzman, no more."
 "But first must come back my strength.," Salzman said weakly.  He fumbled with the portfolio straps and took out of the leather case an oily paper bag, from which he extracted a hard seeded roll and a small smoked whitefish.  With a quick motion of his hand he stripped the fish out of its skin  and began ravenously to chew.  "All day in a rush," he muttered.
Leo watched him eat.
"A sliced tomato you have maybe?  Salzman hesitantly inquired.
Well, I guess you had to have been there.   Anyway, Finkel answers "no."

1 comment:

The New York Crank said...

There's nothing new about this. Marriage brokers grab you and won't let go. Just try sometime to get them to take down your picture and posting from a dating website.

You don't want to be on one in the first place. Tell that to, say, Christian Mingle, which is advertising that GOD WANTS YOU TO DO THIS because it's part of "God's plan for you."

By comparison to which, asking for a piece tomato is maybe not such an aggressive move.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank