A Spring Sunday | Heywood Broun

This commentary first appeared in the New York World on February 24, 1925.

        It felt like a spring Sunday, and it looked it. Besides, the girl and the young man in the taxi just ahead were kissing. That’s quite in accord with the tradition of spring—and of Sunday.
	But there was a distinctive quality. As far as I could tell from the back of her head, she kissed blithely. There was gayety in the blonde bob which crinkled in the sunlight. That was the distinction. Very few people can be ardent and at the same time merry. It is a rare heroine who can say to the suitor who assails her with somber endearment, “When you call me that, smile!”
	And, after all, the ability to make love frivolously is the chief characteristic which distinguishes human beings form the beasts. Nature made the animals fierce and single-minded about such things. Perhaps the same intention was decreed for us, which makes it all the more fun to dissent and digress. To me the familiar adage, “You can’t cheat nature,” has always been provocative of rebellion. Perhaps you can’t, but anyhow it is possible to try.
	And so, in addition to derision and disapproval, there was something of envy in the attitude of all those who watched the taxicab pass by. The girl and young man seemed indifferent or unaware of the commotion which they had created. Quite possibly they never realized how impellingly they were thrust into the public gaze by the giddy overhead lighting of the noonday sun. At any rate, they continued to kiss.
	I watched no more. I wanted to see the front of the back of the head. When my taxicab swept by I turned, and they saw me turning. The young man blushed, straightened up and scowled. But she grinned. It was a face for which I had hoped. The gayety, inherent in the swing of her head, did go all the way around.
	It was a pleasant grin and the mockery of it contained practically no malice. It was a “So is your old man” sort of look. “And what are you doing with this excellent afternoon?” seemed to be her challenge.
	I regret to admit that I was wholly alone in my taxicab, and that it wasn’t by any means a singular coincidence. I was on my way to lunch with Aunt Caroline. It was an invitation of a week’s standing. Of course, it would have been entirely reasonable for me to have accepted with the distinct proviso, “Unless there is some sudden accession of spring.” And I’m not at all sure Aunt Caroline would have understood that.
	So I did go to Aunt Caroline’s  and had lunch and discussed immoral plays, concerning which she feels very strongly. But throughout the debate I continued to think of the girl in the taxi. There was never any more than that one glance. I respected the young man’s embarrassment sufficiently to turn my head front almost immediately. He was under scrutiny hardly more than ten seconds. And yet I am entirely certain he’s not the young man for her. A philosophic gulf is fixed between them, and she’s too good for him.
	Fred (I think that would be his name) likes fun as well as the next one. On any bright afternoon he can be depended upon to crook his arm and bend his head, but within his heart he carries an invisible censor. There remains about him the buried conviction that it is wrong to kiss a girl in a taxicab. A sense of sin tempers his cheerfulness. One touch of public opinion will split all his purposes in two.
	Mind you, I had not shouted, “Hey, cut that out!” or expressed any articulate disapproval. I had done no more than look at him, but that was enough. Possibly he misinterpreted my gloomy glance, or I became at that moment church and state and play jury. For him the afternoon was spoiled.
	And maybe for her, but she will live to thank me. If I had not turned to look she could hardly have discovered so soon that Fred cannot, now or ever, love and grin.

Heywood Broun was a columnist for the New York World and other publications. He died in 1939.

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commentary | poetry | fiction | chicago | winter 2008
Like Joe Hill | John M. Anderson
Taking Back Cambodia | Vincent Reusch
Things We Find | Virginia Bell
American Dreamtime | Robert Warrington
After Reading Bernhard | Edward Mc Whinney
A Spring Sunday | Heywood Broun
Three Poems | Amy Groshek

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