In 1927, when he began his courtship of Dorothy Thompson, Sinclair Lewis followed her across Europe, all the way to Moscow. At Moscow Airport . . . the press was waiting to greet him. "What brought you to Russia?" Lewis was asked.
"Dorothy," he said.
"We mean, what's your business here?" the press persisted.
"Dorothy," said Lewis.
"You misunderstand. What do you plan to see in Russia?"
"Dorothy," said Lewis.
A patient complaining of melancholy consulted Dr. John Abernethy. After an examination the doctor pronounced, "You need amusement. Go and hear the comedian Grimaldi; he will make you laugh, and that will be better for you than any drugs." Said the patient, "I am Grimaldi.
By nature, French artist Edgar Degas was conservative. His friend the etcher Jean-Louis Forain believed in progress. Forain had recently installed that newfangled invention, the telephone. Arranging to have a friend phone him during the meal, he invited Degas to dinner. The phone rang; Forain rushed to answer it, then returned, beaming with pride. Degas merely said, "So that's the telephone. It rings and you run.
As a punishment for refusing to serve in the army, poet Robert Lowell was imprisoned for five months by the U.S. courts. While waiting to be transferred to Connecticut to serve the sentence, Lowell spent a few days in New York's West Street Jail. During his stay there he was put in a cell next to Louie Lepke, a convicted member of Murder Incorporated. "I'm in for killing," Lepke told the poet. "What are you in for?" Lowell answered, "Oh, I'm in for refusing to kill.
Censuring Joseph Stalin at a public meeting, Soviet premier Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was interrupted by a voice from the audience. "You were one of Stalin's colleagues," shouted the heckler. "Why didn't you stop him?"
"Who said that?" roared Khrushchev. There was an agonizing silence in the room. Nobody dared moved a muscle. Then, in a quiet voice, Khrushchev said, "Now you know why.
Among the sages whom [Ralph Waldo] Emerson sought out on his visit to Europe was the notoriously reticent and difficult Thomas Carlyle. He called on Carlyle one evening and was given a pipe, while his host took one himself. They sat together smoking in perfect silence until bedtime, and on parting shook hands most cordially, congratulating each other on the fruitful time they had enjoyed together.
A visitor to Niels Bohr's country cottage, noticing a horseshoe hanging on the wall, teased the eminent scientist about this ancient superstition. "Can it be that you, of all people, believe it will bring you luck?" "Of course not," replied Bohr, "but I understand it brings you luck whether you believe or not.
During the contest for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, John F. Kennedy visited a mine in West Virginia. "Is it true you're the son of one of our wealthiest men?" asked one of the miners there. Kennedy admitted that this was true. "Is it true that you've never wanted for anything and had everything you wanted?" "I guess so," Kennedy replied. "Is it true you've never done a day's work with your hands all your life?" Kennedy nodded. "Well, let me tell you this," said the miner. "You haven't missed a thing.
In the latter part of his career, Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate received a visit from a famous music critic who acclaimed him as a genius. . . . "A genius!" Sarasate said. "For thirty-seven years I've practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!