Oh, God, you must read her theater reviews. If she was reviewing the theater right now, you’d go, just so you could compare the experience to the reviews. Consider this one for A.A. Milne’s (of Winnie the PoohÂ fame) Give Me Yesterday.Â
The cabinet minister is, like Melisande, not happy. His wife is proud, cold, and ambitious; his daughter is a Bright Young Thing, his son has gone Socialist; and, to crown it all, it is rumored that Mowbrey is to be appointed to the coveted position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. “Ah,” I said to myself, for I love a responsive audience, “so, it’s one of those plays. All right, it’s one of those plays. At least we shall have no Christopher Robins cocking their heads on the lawn.” For a moment, you see, I had forgotten the title, and hope tormented me…It appeared his boyhood sweetheart, Sally – called by Mr. Louis Calhern, who has gone British or something “Selly” just as he says, and as yearningly, “heppy” – had used to occupy the adjoining room, and he had a nasty habit of tapping o the wall between, to communicate with her. The code was not essentially difficult. There was one tap for “a”, two for “b” and so on. I ask you, kind reader, but to bear this in mind for rougher times… the cabinet minister goes into a dream – I do not pretend to follow this argument – and meets with his boyhood sweetheart, who wears, and becomingly, the dress of her day. And then, believe it or not, things get worse. The cabinet minister talks softly and embarrassingly to Sally – “Ah, Selly, Selly, Selly” – but that is not enough. He must tap out to her, on the garden wall, his message, though she is right there beside him. First he taps, and at the length it would take, the letter “I.” Then he goes on to “L” and, though she surely everyone in the audience has caught the idea, he carries through to “O”. “Oh, he’s not going to “V”" I Â told myself, “Even Milne wouldn’t do that to you.” But he did. He tapped on through “V” and then he did an “E.”
There is, unfortunately, as far as I can tell, no complete set of Dorothy Parker’s theater reviews, but you can read a lot of them in The Portable Dorothy Parker.Â
One day, Dorothy arrived at Vanity Fair to find that her office was now being shared by the new managing editor. His name was Robert Benchely. He was 29, a former Boy Scout who went to bed at 10, and spent his weekend clipping hedges and playing the mandolin for his wife and children. He wore long underwear year round and immediately warned Dorothy against drinking saying “alcohol will coarsen you.”
God, he sounds awful. Dorothy disliked him immediately.
That man was the famous humorist Robert Benchley. He was soon to become Dorothy’s best friend for life.