‘Two Turtledoves’ by John O’Hara

Two Turtledoves by John O’Hara, 1961

The magic trick:

Compare-contrast two sets of pairs

It’s that time of year. SSMT holiday tales of warmth and loneliness in equal measure.

This is a classic magic trick. Set up two sets of pairs. Double the opportunity for extracting compare/contrast meanings. Put it on Christmas Eve in a bar? Even better. And that’s quite a trick on O’Hara’s part.

The selection:

“Oh, there’s none of that. I won’t have that in my place. These are just a man and woman in their forties, sitting there and talking and looking at one another.”

“Do you know them?”

“I seen him come in once in a while. She’s a stranger to me. He come in a little before ten and went straight to the back room, and then a few minutes later she drove up in a taxi. Nobody here know her or him. And now they been sitting and talking for over three hours. There’s nothing going on. They ain’t even sitting on the same side of the table, and a couple times I went in and they weren’t even talking.”

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