“Another orange juice, with a little vodka in it this time” (Donald Barthelme)

SNOW WHITE had another glass of healthy orange juice. “From now on I deny myself to them. These delights. I maintain an esthetic distance. No more do I trip girlishly to their bed in the night, or after lunch, or in the misty mid-morning. Not that I ever did. It was always my whim which governed those gregarious encounters summed up so well by Livy in the phrase, vae victis. I congratulate myself on that score at least. And no more will I chop their onions, boil their fettucini, or marinate their flank steak. No more will I trudge about the house pursuing stain. No more will I fold their lingerie in neat bundles and stuff it away in the highboy. I am not even going to speak to them, now, except through third parties, or if I have something special to announce — a new nuance of my mood, a new vagary, a new extravagant caprice. I don’t know what such a policy will win me. I am not even sure I wish to implement it. It seems small and mean-spirited. I have conflicting ideas. But the main theme that runs through my brain is that what is, is insufficient. Where did that sulky notion come from? From the rental library, doubtless. Perhaps the seven men should have left me in the forest. To perish there, when all the roots and berries and rabbits and robins had been exhausted. If I had perished then, I would not be thinking now. It is true that there is a future in which I shall inevitably perish. There is that. Thinking terminates. One shall not always be leaning on one’s elbow in the bed at a quarter to four in the morning, wondering if the Japanese are happier than their piglike Western contemporaries. Another orange juice, with a little vodka in it this time.”

From Donald Barthelme’s novel Snow White.


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