Friday, April 25, 2008

Canadian Literary Orgies: Anecdote #1

Bennett Cerf writes in Living to Laugh of a party at John O'Hara's house; a party attended by Sinclair Ross, Robert J.C. Stead, and Sheila Watson. O'Hara, the author of Appointment in Samarra, Butterfield 8, and Hope of Heaven, had read Watson's The Double Hook and had asked Cerf to dig up the author's address and pay her fare to Philadelphia, which was where O'Hara was living at the time. Cerf obliged, and soon Watson and O'Hara were conducting a friendly correspondence. Watson would come to O'Hara's party; she looked forward to meeting her new friend.

O'Hara, who was not a patient man, was expecting Watson's train at five o'clock on a Saturday. She'd sent him a telegraph Friday afternoon letting him know when she'd be arriving and where to meet her on the platform. The next day he went to 30th Street Station, following her instructions, and was incensed when the express arrived and Watson was not on board. He waited for an hour, hoping that Watson would be on a subsequent train, but the next one came...and still no Watson.

O'Hara sped home, railing against the Canadian author all the way. When he pulled into his driveway there was Watson at the foot of the steps, sitting on her suitcase. "I missed my transfer in Allentown," Watson said, "so I had to drive down. I hope you weren't just waiting for me."

O'Hara feigned delight, but was secretly fuming. "Oh, don't worry about it. It's alright. I'm just glad you're here."

Later that night, during the party, William Styron got drunk and made a pass at Watson. O'Hara, who had been hanging on Sheila's elbow all night, watched in horror as Styron twisted his pinky into the corner of her mouth, his other hand massaging her ass through layers of turquoise silk interwoven with a pattern of bowing Japanese virgins. O'Hara turned his back to vent, and when he looked again for Styron and Watson they were gone.

As the night progressed, more and more guests began disappearing; disappearing upstairs into O'Hara's large carpeted bedroom. O'Hara navigated his way through the writhing literary bodies, finding Styron and Watson half-way under his mahogany bedstead, their legs locked in embrace. Both were obviously smashed.

O'Hara did the only thing he could do: he dropped his pants and joined in. "Nice to see you, John," Styron said. "There's a little room north of the shoulders."

Watson fellated O'Hara, but was still lucid enough to insist on one condition: "Don't come in my mouth."

"Don't worry," O'Hara said. "Just stop talking. I don't smoke cigars, and I don't come in women's mouths."

But, a few minutes later, O'Hara's limbs shuddered, and he ejaculated on Watson's hard palate. She pulled back, shocked, slapping her palm against his bare thigh.

"You said you wouldn't!"

"And you said you'd meet me at the train station," O'Hara said, reaching under the bed to dig into his pocket. "Now have a cigar."


Richard Rabicoff said...

This is rather curious. I do not find a book by Bennett Cerf titled Living to Laugh, though Amazon lists some 80 titles of his with the word laugh. Is Mr. Adler referring to a book or an article; or is the anecdotist someone other than Cerf?

Watson's The Double Hook came out in 1959 and was an experimental fiction of the type O'Hara would never read, much less admire, especially at age 54.

In 1959 O'Hara was happily married to his final wife and was notoriously faithful to her. While such an orgy could have taken place during his various bachelorhoods, or especially in Hollywood, it is terribly unlikely he would have partied like this in 1959 or thereafter. (He died in 1970.)

That said, it is a delightful anecdote delightfully told. But is sure sounds spurious.

Anonymous said...

Philadelphia::1 May 2008

Rubbish, of course. Facts don't square. Never mind. Good story.

Richard CarreƱo
John O'Hara Society

Leo Fisher said...

Clearly a joke. But a good joke. I don't think that anyone's going to take it too seriously.

All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
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