On that same trip to the Americana at Brand in the city of Glendale, these two stylish people, my sister Autumn and our brother James, took pause from their efforts for refreshment.
“How about a milk?” said Autumn. (Scratch that--Autumn, who is slightly allergic to milk, would never say that.)
“I’m thirsty,” Autumn said, “let’s get something to drink.”
“I would like something,” James paused to think for a moment before saying, “something bubbly.”
And it happened that the pair came upon a soda pop seller in the very peopled courtyard of the Americana. She was very cheerful and wearing an all-white outfit. In fact, her whole ensemble was white, her shirt and pants, the cart that was really a cooler to keep the different flavored sodas cold, and the large umbrella that shaded them, lending an appeal that was altogether pristine and old-fashioned. Autumn and James decided together that this young lady was delightful, because with the smiles that she generously gave her customers who lined up to tell her which flavor they would like, she made it seem as if she wanted nothing other or else in the world than to be "the soda pop girl."
Autumn indeed looks elegant in her black silhouette, and with her lovely hair and wrist accessories! But, it's James' hat that I want to talk about--doesn't my brother look debonair in his cloth band straw hat? It was a fine find from an old-time-y men's hat shop on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, which my brother got first for a singing performance. (No, he didn't sing "Give Me a Straw Hat and a Cane;" the song was more along the lines of Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz.")
James likes his hat--so much that he exclaimed, "Please watch my hat!" when he wasn't wearing it for pictures. Such a unique thing would be difficult to replace if lost. I once heard someone say, "You can be anything that you would like to be, but you cannot be everything." It's true--and I think that this saying also applies to clothes. Besides, there is a certain pleasure in having just the right accent item.
Back to debonair: that word always reminds me of a charming and funny anecdotal read, Life with Father by Clarence Day, Jr. A favorite part of the book is when the author talks about the French language Bible that he chooses to read:
The French were notoriously godless, however. It made me laugh, though it frightened me, too, to see the liberties they had taken. In my English Bible, David was a fine Anglo-Saxon-type, 'a youth ruddy and of fair countenance.' In the French, he was a revolting little snip from the boulevards, 'un enfant blond, et d'une belle figure.' Where my Bible spoke of 'leviathan,' the French said 'le crocodile,' which ruined the grandeur and mystery of that famous beast. And where mine said, 'Behold now behemoth,' they said, 'Voici l'hippopotame!'
As hilarious as that part is, I enjoy this part even better:
But before putting the books back on my shelf, I hunted up the one place in the French Bible that I really liked. 'Blessed are the meek,' my English Bible said, 'for they shall inherit the earth.' I had always hated that verse. It made all religion so difficult.... But poring over the French Bible one evening, I had found to my delight that some daring Frenchman had altered this passage and had changed the Sermon on the Mount into something that a fellow could stand. 'Heureux les debonnaires,' he had represented Jesus as saying, 'car ils heriteront de la terre.'
The debonair! That was more like it! I cheerfully jumped into bed.