The Yanks Are Coming

Dear Michael,

Your last letter was so sweet. I even showed it to my mother. You know she has had her doubts about you and me and about how young we are and what will you ever do for work when you come back home and also about your parents and that dreadful little sister of yours and her carousing and her smoking and how she never sends anyone thank you notes even for that wonderful tea set my mother sent her for her sixteenth birthday. The one with the tiny pink roses on the inside edges of the cups and saucers which cost my mother a fortune in her ration stamps. Although mama would never have used the gasoline stamps anyway since we sold the car and bought war bonds with the money she made. She says we will be set for life when the war is over, over there—get it? Like the “Yanks are coming over there!” But when she says we will be set for life I don’t think she means you and me set for life but she means herself and her new beau, if you can call him that, what with his two ex-wives and his soon-to-be third, and the fact that he is twenty-two years older than her, and by her I mean his third wife, not my mother, since she and Kaufman, that’s the new beau’s name, who is a Jew writer of songs or books or something and who she says is the smartest man she has ever met and maybe the smartest man in the entire world, are actually the same age. And this is so unbelievable, they were born on the same exact day in the same year in the exact same hospital in Manhattan, which makes them almost twins she says, and they wear the same kind of underwear made from the same fabric as the U.S. army underwear. And they both love orange juice. And even though he is a Dodger fan and they have their little spats, as she calls them, over who is the best short stop in the National league after which they make up and have lunch in the Russian Tea Room, which is a very fancy place in Manhattan where they first met, where she was working then, and he was there with his second wife signing their divorce papers over bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Brut even though he says that it is not the best they have but he likes it for its well-knit acidity, with notes of ripe black cherry, grated ginger, toast point, and minerality, and she doesn’t, by she I mean his second wife who he was divorcing to be with his third wife who he is on the rocks with now while he is seeing my mother on the sly and promises to marry and brings her roses every Monday evening when his third wife is taking steno classes so that she has a back-up career, in case her gig with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes doesn’t pan out. And mama says when he leaves her, the third one, then she and Kaufman will be free to move away, to Greece or someplace like that and start anew and they will travel and read books, except that he told mama he never reads any new books because nobody has ever written any book anywhere near as good as the stories of the Greek gods and the god-humans and the philosophers like Socrates and Plato or the writers like Euripides and Pericles. Have you ever heard of them? And he said that there are no new stories to tell that the Greeks had not already told. And mama said that when he said to her, “What more can the human mind conjure than what these people have already told us?” she saw tears in his eyes and she says that made her love him so much. Have you ever read those books? I tried to read one. Agamemnon or something like that. But it was not very good because it was all about one country attacking another and invading armies and morality while they did such terrible things to their families and their parents and all the kings and empires and the generals. It was all so horrible back then. It is all so depressing. I don’t want to think about. But Mr. Kaufman tells mama that this is the way of the world and it has always, always been this way and will be this way for ever. But mama doesn’t think so and says she thinks if it were not for the Jews now, we would not be in this mess in Europe. She is not anti-Semitic, surely, but she thinks “why would someone want to live in a place where they were not wanted?” Doesn’t that make sense? You don’t think she is anti-Semitic, do you? We are so lucky that we live in a country like America where everyone is welcome and free. Oh, Michael, I can hardly wait to see you again. Please write again soon. I hope all goes well in France.

Miss you, love you.

Your very own,

Mary Pat


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