Inside an Opium Den with Dorothy Parker

Image‘So now I should like to tell you a story of the dead days. It seems that some years ago, Wilson Mizner and two chums engaged a room at an hotel at about Forty-fifth Street and Broadway, where the costliest suite was three dollars a week. There they stayed and went on an opium bender. Along in the afternoon of the third day, when the air in the room was like veined marble, one of the gentlemen lifted his head and said, “Do you hear a little bell ringing?” The others removed their pipes and listened: no, they said, there wasn’t a sound. But, half an hour later, the die-hard again looked up and said, “I could swear I hear a little bell.” Once more the other two listened and assured him it was nonsense– all was peace and silence. The next morning, they sort of finished up, and put on their clothes and went out. Well, Mr. W., it seems that the World War had just ended on the day before, and that the little bell the gentleman could have sworn he heard ringing was New York celebrating the Armistice.’

Dorothy Parker, January, 1935, letter to Alexander Wollcott, the founder of the Algonquin Round Table.

The Portable Dorothy Parker, Edited by Marion Meade, Revised edition 2006, Penguin.

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