Friday, April 25, 2008

We don't get older, we just get riper

Here is a lovely little memory that Janet Flanner, former Paris correspondant for The New Yorker, writes in the introduction to a collection of her segments from the 1920s and '30s.  She tells of one day when she met Picasso after seeing him in the same caf√© nearly every night years before but never having the courage to speak to him.  


"As I walked into the salon, which was as crowded with varied art works as an auction room, Picasso turned to me with his hand outstretched in greeting, and then, with a loud cry of astonishment, shouted, 'You!  Why didn't you ever speak to me in the old days at the Flore?  For years we saw each other and never spoke, until now.  Are you just the same as you were?  you look it!'  By this time he had his arms around me and was thumping me enthusiastically on the shoulders.  'You look fine; not a day older,' and I said, "Nor do you,' and he said, "That's true; that's the way you and I are.  We don't get older, we just get riper.  Do you still love life the way you used to, and love people the way you did?  I watched you and always wanted to know what you were thinking ... Tell me, do you still love the human race, especially your best friends?   Do you still love love?'  'I do,' I said, astonished at the turn the monologue was taking.  'And so do I!' he shouted, laughing.  'Oh, we're great ones for that, you and I.  Isn't love the greatest refreshment in life?'  And he embraced me with his strong arms, in farewell."

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