“That was the end of Zoya. She couldn’t forgive the hiccups.”

Madeleine Jeanne Lemaire, “A Gallant Suitor And His Beautiful Lady”

“Why don’t you drink some water,” Zoya counseled.

I walked up and down beside the sofa. I pressed my finger to my throat. Again, I hiccuped. Ma Chère, I was in a terrible bind! Zoya got up and went to the box. I followed. I opened the door to the box for her, hiccuped, and ran to the bar. I drank five glasses of water. The hiccups seemed to have settled down. I smoked a cigarette and headed for the box. Zoya’s brother stood and offered me his seat, a seat beside my Zoya. I sat down and immediately I hiccuped. Five minutes passed, but then I hiccuped again—a strange wheezy hiccup. I got up and went to stand by the door of the box. It is better, ma chère, to hiccup by the door rather than into the ear of a woman one loves! I hiccuped. The schoolboy in the neighboring box looked at me and laughed loudly…Cursing the impertinent schoolboy, I hiccuped again. Laughter came from the neighboring boxes.

“Encore!” hissed the schoolboy.

“What the hell is going on!” Colonel Pepsinov muttered in my ear. “You could have stayed home to hiccup, sir!”

Zoya blushed. Once again I hiccuped, and then I ran out of the box, my fists fiercely clenched. I paced up and down the hallway. I paced, and paced, and paced—and I hiccuped. The things I ate and drank to make the hiccups go away! At the beginning of the fourth act, I called it quits. I went home…

The next evening, I went to dine with the Pepsinovs, as was my habit. Zoya didn’t come down to dinner. She sent a message that she couldn’t see me. She was ill. Colonel Pepsinov gave a long speech about how certain young men do not know how to behave in public…

“Would you have given your daughter, if you had one,” Pepsinov said to me after dinner, “to a man who permits himself to engage in public belching? Well, sir?”

“I would,” I muttered.

“Then you’d be making a mistake, sir!”

That was the end of Zoya. She couldn’t forgive the hiccups. I was done for.

—Anton Chekhov, “A Confession Or, Olya, Zhenya, Zoya (A Letter)”

I’m not feelin’ too good myself…

 

“Feelin’ Alright” (Live At The Fillmore East/1970) by Joe Cocker

The Nose

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “N.Y.C. – Bridges – Brooklyn” (1895)

As he returned, he met Madame Podtotchina with her daughter. He accosted them, and they responded very graciously. The conversation lasted a long time, during which he took more than one pinch of snuff, saying to himself, “No, you haven’t caught me yet, coquettes that you are! And as to the daughter, I shan’t marry her at all.”

After that, the Major resumed his walks on the Neffsky Avenue and his visits to the theatre as if nothing had happened. His nose also remained in its place as if it had never quitted it. From that time he was always to be seen smiling, in a good humour, and paying attentions to pretty girls…

—Nikolai Gogol, The Nose

Better forget him, him with his nose in the air…

“Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual; I’ve noticed it too.”

cf. Carol M. Highsmith, Ominous clouds above Pine Bluffs… (2015)

Nat remarked upon it when hedging was finished for the day. “Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual; I’ve noticed it too. And daring, some of them, taking no notice of the tractor. One or two gulls came so close to my head this afternoon I thought they’d knock my cap off! As it was, I could scarcely see what I was doing when they were overhead and I had the sun in my eyes. I have a notion the weather will change. It will be a hard winter. That’s why the birds are restless.”

—Daphne du Maurier, The Birds

Solid Objects

Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., “…Men’s clothing II” (1953)

“As his eyes passed from one to another, the determination to possess objects that even surpassed these tormented the young man. He devoted himself more and more resolutely to the search…”

—Virginia Woolf, Solid Objects

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe…”

Alfred Stieglitz, Snapshot–from my window, New York (1907)

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe…

–from Dubliners, James Joyce

“I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless…” (“Couldn’t I Just Tell You”)

cf. State Library and Archives of Florida, Northwood Mall on opening day (1969)

I could not find any sixpenny entrance and, fearing that the bazaar would be closed, I passed in quickly through a turnstile, handing a shilling to a weary-looking man. I found myself in a big hall girdled at half its height by a gallery. Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognised a silence like that which pervades a church after a service. I walked into the centre of the bazaar timidly. A few people were gathered about the stalls which were still open. Before a curtain, over which the words Café Chantant were written in coloured lamps, two men were counting money on a salver. I listened to the fall of the coins.

Remembering with difficulty why I had come I went over to one of the stalls and examined porcelain vases and flowered tea-sets. At the door of the stall a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen. I remarked their English accents and listened vaguely to their conversation.
“O, I never said such a thing!”
“O, but you did!”
“O, but I didn’t!”
“Didn’t she say that?”
“Yes. I heard her.”
“O, there’s a … fib!”

Observing me the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy anything. The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall and murmured:
“No, thank you.”

The young lady changed the position of one of the vases and went back to the two young men. They began to talk of the same subject. Once or twice the young lady glanced at me over her shoulder.

I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar. I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now completely dark.

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

–from Dubliners, James Joyce

Couldn’t I just tell you the way I feel?
I can’t keep it bottled up inside
And could we pretend that it’s no big deal
And there’s really nothing left to hide?